Brussels based artist Oli-B shares his experience as the first artist to take part in the ‘Art Seat’ project launched by Belgian interior house Marie’s Corner. The painter transformed the Butler armchair into his characteristic urban style with pop colours. “I’m proud of the result”, he says.
Text by Mirte Spaey – Photo’s by Sophie Dubois and Nicolas Coulon
Oli-B and I walk past his Art Seat to a quiet spot to talk. The armchair has been displayed at eye-level and is very impressive with all the colorful shapes painted on it. Oli-B sits back next to me into the white-green couch and takes a sip of his champagne. He looks very relaxed. But when he starts talking, something inside of him seems to awaken as he leans forward and his face becomes more and more expressive. His enthusiasm about his creation is tangible.
Did you have fun creating this piece?
Oli-B: “Ooh, yes. It was very different from my other work, because I usually make my art on a flat surface like a canvas. So it was very different to work on an object, on a chair. I really liked it.”
Are you happy with the result?
Oli-B: “Very often when I’m finished I think: I like it, but it’s not perfect, that’s not exactly what I had in mind. But with this piece, I didn’t. I think it’s very nice. When I was painting I was already thinking: this is going to be dope. I’m proud of it. But without too much ego. It’s just that feeling of doing something that you’re happy with. If I see that chair somewhere I’m going to think: that’s nice. And I made it. So it’s quite fun, it’s a great feeling. I’m happy to share this piece.”
“You can’t love all you’ve done.”
Are you sometimes unhappy with the result?
Oli-B: “Barely, because I try always to correct it or to find a way to be happy with it. But of all the things I’ve made, I prefer some works over others. I think that’s normal: you can’t love all you’ve done. So it happens. Sometimes I think: this is not my favorite canvas. But you keep rolling, you keep creating. It’s part of the creation process.”
“I can almost say that there is always a point where I’m unsatisfied.”
During the process, were you ever thinking: this is not going the way I want it to?
Oli-B: “It happens a lot, even when I work on canvases or murals. I can almost say that there is always a point where I’m unsatisfied. I’m like: phew… I need to take it easy. I almost always get that feeling. But it’s a great feeling too, because it’s risky. I always apply a few layers on each color to get it that powerful. You have to put layers on layers on layers. Sometimes five layers to get it right. And if I don’t feel that risk of not knowing how it will turn out, painting would be boring. If I design a work on the computer, I take no risks. Working like that would feel like a waste of energy, because you already know the story of the painting and how it will turn out.”
How long did it take you to paint the chair?
Oli-B: “Three to four days. But I didn’t paint it in one sitting. I take breaks to eat and to watch social media. But not that much: I’m a worker. I like to feel that things are moving. And I really like what I do, so I’m always thinking: okay, let’s finish that part and… I want to keep going.”
Do you work with music on the background?
Oli-B: “Yes, always. Mostly funk, hiphop, soul… Sometimes rock too. Beats and bass. I don’t listen to techno or metal.”
“I don’t use colors so people would enjoy my work. I do it for myself. I am super selfish.”
You always use quite bright colors. Why is that?
Oli-B: “Just because I love it. I work with colors of honesty. I try to find a balance with pop colours and pastels. If I would only use pop colors, the work would look like something from a kids shop. I try to use colors in a more mature way. I don’t use colors so people would enjoy my work. I do it for myself. I am super selfish. I just love color and color combinations. I’m not looking especially for people to be happy when they look at my work, but I understand it brings positivity.”
Did you ever hesitate when they asked you to paint the chair?
Oli-B: “No. It’s indoor design: a world that I really like. So painting on a seat is something I really wanted to do. I saw this project as a kind of workshop. I know some day I will do another move on interior art – I don’t know, launch an interior collection or something. I’m ready to paint other furniture. I feel lucky of having the possibility of doing stuff like this.”
“My interior is all white.”
Is your interior as colorful as your work?
Oli-B: (laughs) “No, it’s all white! White and wood, with a few pops of color of my work. But not much, I don’t want to be surrounded by my own stuff. I love sober interior with white gray and small pops of color.”
We’re already curious to see who will be the next artist Marie’s Corner invites to transform one of their pieces. Owners Serge Silber and Philippe Vanhemelen plan on doing this project once a year, so we’ll have to be patient.
Check out Oli-B’s work at https://oli-b.be/works/ or @oli_b.art
For more about Marie’s Corner, go to https://www.mariescorner.com/