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Courtesy of Maxime Besnard

November, 2nd 2020

Aesthetics, ancient sculptures, electronic music, fashion. What ties these words together? Earlier this fall, our Staiy editor, Daria Müller Velasquez, had the opportunity to (digitally) meet with one of the most up and coming collage artists, Maxime Besnard, and talk about the inspiration behind his work, issues of sustainability and ancient civilizations.

Words By Daria Müller Velasquez

Maxime Besnard, or Mime, is a French collage artist based in Paris. After studying digital marketing and contemporary art and design, he decided to express himself through the medium of collage, cutting and sticking papers together to create a pure aesthetic and inviting the viewer to reflect on themselves through individual interpretations. All of his pieces are created depending on his mood at the time. Subjects and forms are delicately cut from old books he collects from second-hand bookstores, in France or abroad.

Courtesy of Maxime Besnard

The idea of using collage as a means to channel his creative self first sparked in Mime’s mind when he created an Instagram account dedicated to collecting his favourite works of art. “In this account, I mark things that I would like to exhibit in my ‘Imaginary Gallery’. I have assembled a very interesting collection by various artists. After a while, my attention was drawn to one particular technique – collage,” Mime explains. “This technique became a necessary visual language that allowed me to express my artistic point of view. Collage can be viewed as a symbiosis of classical art and innovative technologies, because here, over the papers, you can easily layer different materials such as stones, leaves, metals. This technique taught me how I can express my feelings properly.

“All my works are unique and reflect important features of humanity. Through my work, I can show my audience how fragile and vulnerable we can be, but how beautiful we remain.”

It is also interesting that most of his work is made from old books. When asked when it all began, Mime replies with a nostalgic smile: “It started about three and a half years ago. I was looking for suitable tools: scissors, wire cutters, etc. Then I was faced with the task of finding suitable pictures, and that’s what led me to this old second-hand bookshop. I remember my first impressions… The shop, imbued with the spirit of history, felt exactly like a museum to me. There, I managed to get the illustrations I needed for my collage, taken from books that were printed over a hundred years ago. It is noteworthy that my first book was found in Hungary. I would love to go back there again because on every street, you can find a library filled with old books that nobody wants to read. This is the root of my inspiration.”

Courtesy of Maxime Besnard

But this is not the only source of inspiration for the young artist. “I am in love with the aesthetics of ancient Egypt. I’m particularly attracted to humanity with its flaws. In fact, we humans are all the same in many ways: we make mistakes, we have vices, and every day we try to correct them. Humanity makes me happy, enlightens me, hurts me and at times, forgives me, as I must forgive others – without discrimination. I strive to illustrate this through my work,” the Parisian reveals. “Ancient civilizations inspire me and serve as my special, spiritual case studies, representing both universal and eternal identities in a modern context. I wonder if these Greco-Roman statues and Egyptian sculptures were really free from any flaws? How would they react to the changes taking place in the modern world? Through all these inspirations and my own experiences, I feel the need to confront and unite these two different worlds.”

Sustainability is the artist’s main priority in his work, and in life. All of Mime’s work is constructed from the remains of paper used from previous collages: “Each time I cut a paper, I collect the scraps so that I can use it for other collages. I try to waste as little as possible and recycle everything I can.”

Mime’s work has been displayed in Paris twice as part of a collective exhibition comprising five other collagists from Paris, Tel Aviv and Madrid, back in September 2018 and May 2019. His work was also featured in the Antigalerie in Paris in May 2019. More recently, his work was exhibited in the In Art We Trust gallery in Paris, from November 2019 to May 2020. Currently, his work is being represented by two art galleries, La Galerie des Curiosités in Bordeaux, and La Galerie Martin Sauvage in Nice. 

Courtesy of Maxime Besnard

Courtesy of Maxime Besnard

Mime hopes to develop and apply his collage technique in other creative projects. “I would like to do video projects devoted to collage. I want to make video clips as well as create an identity through the techno music I produce. Besides that, I’m always open for collaboration with fashion brands,” Mime states. The artist emphasizes that collaborating with fashion brands does not involve printing his collages on textiles, but rather incorporating them into the garment’s intrinsic design. His future work promises to be an intriguing, animated, and most certainly experimental blend of creative mediums. And who knows, perhaps Mime’s next exhibition will be seen strutting down the catwalk of Paris’ next Fashion Week!