On March 7th, at the newly restored La Maison Yves Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane showed what would be his last collection as creative director for Saint Laurent.
Titled ‘La Collection de Paris’, theatrics were stripped bare. As Benedicte de Ginestous read the look numbers – a role she fulfilled for the house’s every couture presentation from 1977-2002 – Slimane sent out a collection that paid tribute to the house’s iconic heritage via forward-thinking modernism – it’s the Yves Saint Laurent way.
“Numero vingt trois” read de Ginestous, as a model appeared wearing a monochrome motorcycle jacket, clad in black scribbled lines crossing each other forming a marble-esque print. Titled Lessons in Dance School 2, this piece adorning the jacket is the work of 23-year-old artist, Alexander Muret.
Working across paintings made from melted crayons (wax encaustic) and self-published books, the New York-based artist paints with subverted expression. Free to communicate without rules or algorithms, Muret’s ambiguous and improvised approach enables him to create immediate art with intimate values. A world within itself, the artist welcomes you to explore.
Here we speak to Muret about Saint Laurent, his artistic background and finding freedom in today’s world.
AJT: How did the collaboration with Saint Laurent for La Collection de Paris come about?
Alexander Muret: I was stacking piles of circles, square and rectangles, like I usually do. And then I was stopped by a person on the street and street cast. That was the start, then they found out that I am a painter. Hedi Slimane then saw some of my paintings and requested to see more.
AJT: What was the inspiration for your painting Lessons in Dance School 2? Why did you feel the work was right for the collection?
AM: But what of those forms themselves? I asked. I crammed a classroom into a painting. It has a little magic realism in there. It’s the gestural idiom of the human condition. There are some famous drawings by Michelangelo that he drew in red chalk, they have some great movement in them.
Alexander Muret, portrait
AJT: How does it feel to have been so closely and creatively involved with Saint Laurent, particularly in what is the final collection to have been designed by Hedi Slimane?
AM: Man, who would have thought it? I don’t know, not me. It feels great. I love it and I love Hedi Slimane, I’m very grateful.
AJT: Can you tell us a bit about your art generally – how did you originally get into painting?
AM: I made the decision when I was seventeen and started painting when I was nineteen after learning about Mönchengladbach types.
AJT: You are quite prolific, working across painting, plus you make and self-publish artist books. What is it about the book medium that draws you to communicate in this way?
AM: Thank you, I was making a lot of paintings and then I got the idea to make books. I can give them to friends, I can have them in my favourite stores. Paintings don’t really work like that. My best friend Laszlo is still nagging for a painting, I gave him books instead. I often make them out of my notebook drawings, I might have an unusual way of ‘sketching’.
AJT: What would you say are the themes that carry most strongly across your work?
AM: The atmospheric pressure. The pressure of scuba diving. The violence of a washing-machine culture industry. There is no unit of measurement for expression. I’m working with loose algorithms here.
AJT: Are you inspired by youth culture of today, or by times past?
AM: Yes, I just walked past Mercer Street yesterday and saw a crowd of youth flooding the street for an up-and-coming star. There was a lot of non-verbal communication. Thirteen is a pretty jarring move. Dorothy Gale is a daring girl.