As an artist Jean Charles de Castelbajac depicts everything we here at Rock the Tribes stand for. His work demonstrates a culture that speaks volumes for the youth of today. Using slogans from pop culture recognisable around the world he brings together cultures to inspire and cultivate a collective view of the world accessible to all. He uses both classic imagery and key icons of popular life such as Snow White [seen below] to add humour, relevance and a new angle merging timescales within one art form.
Although his images are popular the world over, purchased by film and pop stars alike and although his designs are worn by stars like Beyonce, Madonna and Lady Gaga, it is perhaps his less obvious work which caught our attention.
To give you an idea of the context of JC/DC’s work he was asked to dress 5,000 priests, 500 bishops and the Pope for their visit to Paris for ‘World Youth Day’ The basis of the collection was the rainbow based on the story of Noah and the Arc where God proclaims to Noah that ‘when you see the rainbow in the sky there will be peace between me and the human race’ JC/DC informed Bishop that the rainbow was also the symbol of the gay community to which the Bishop responded ‘nobody owns the copyright of a rainbow’
On recognition of Castelbajac’s work the Pope said to him “Young man, you have used colour as a cement of faith.”
Although his work lands on the world stage each season at Paris Fashion Week it is the underlying sketches and street art which make him differ from other designers of his calibre.
The images seen here are just a couple of examples of how he takes art into the public arena in a quite often silent gesture. As Rock the Tribes discovers through our own ‘Street Culture’ project creativity is never more accessible than when artists take to the streets and bring creations to the people. Here, you don’t need a ticket to get in. You don’t need to purchase a piece yourself. You simply stand back, take it in and be affected.To us, this is what true creativity should be. For every culture, every race, and every gender. From the man who walks his dog day after day to the tourists hoping for a slice of cultural artistry. Lets hope more artists take to the streets, defining what they do so that all can see and here what they intend to say.
Here, Louise Leverett chats to JC/DC to find out more about his process as an artist and what inspires his ideas when it comes to creativity:
LL: So Jean, at what moment in your life did you decide you wanted to be an artist? Can you pinpoint it?
JC/DC: At the beginning of my adolescence when I was in boarding school. The lack of tenderness, the absence of toys, the loneliness, made me create objects and invent stories. I believe my imagination was born on wound and anger mixed with a passion for history.
LL: Has there been a person or particular influence on you which has made an impact on your creativity?
JC/DC: Edgar Allan Poe, Kubrick, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Akira Kurosawa and my late friend Malcolm McLaren.
LL: Does anything surprise you In terms of creativity in the world today?
JC/DC The ideas have become shooting stars. They are copied immediately by karaoke artists.
LL: To me, your work depicts culture from the outset. It is very reflective of our world today. How important do you see culture as a way of defining creativity?
JC/DC: History teaches us more than our proper experience.
LL: And do you use music as a point of reference for your work and if so, what pieces inspire you most?
JC/DC: The next one I will discover on the web, at the moment I listen to artists of Pop Noire, a great London label, Soft Moon and two French artists called Hello Kurt. But my next step will be on stage with Mr No at Europavox in May.
LL: What scares you as an artist in the world today?
JC/DC: The lack of culture, the obscenity of fake.
LL: But is there another culture in particular which your curiosity is drawn to?
JC/DC: Archeology, Esoterism, Ghostbusting.
LL: In what ways does your own culture or place in the world influence you and your work?
JC/DC: I spend my time grabbing history to project in the contempory world to recreate emotion or fears.
LL: You have been doing this for so long now, is there anything as an artist that terrifies you?
JC/DC: Nothing really after 40 years of creativity my favorite sensation is the perpetual vertigo of danger. When I dive in the stormy ocean of ideas.
LL: And finally, If you are the centre of your world, what makes your world turn?
JC/DC: Love. For my family, for Women, for discovering new talents. The love to be a “passeur” for future generations, and faith in the fact that Art can save the world.