ARTI’VIEW by ARCHES Youri Messen-Jaschin, an illusionist with immeasurable talent!

In a few words, how would you describe your art?

It’s art in motion. To grasp that, all you have to do is sit or stand – it doesn’t matter which – with your eyes riveted on one of my pictures. Quickly, sometimes very quickly, the world tips out of kilter. Some views will just be impressed by the exercise in patience that it took for the artist to invent these shapes repeated ad infinitum and which, taken together, give the work a whole other dimension. Others will feel engulfed or drawn in by these airy, optical curls formed from shadow and light, arranged so that they take on shapes that exist only for the person looking at them. Others will even feel queasy. They have to look away to avoid a kind of nausea due to the reeling and pitching of the brain. This is something quite specific to kinetic art or controlled Op Art.

Youri Messen-Jaschin

Can you explain what Op Art is?

Op Art, short for Optical Art, which uses optical illusions, is a mathematical form of art. Colours, lines, circles, sophisticated patterns of lines of different thicknesses and the optical illusion vibrates so vividly as to be felt almost physically.

Everything is calculated to the hundredth of a millimetre to trick your vision and have your brain detect things that are not actually there. And this can be in different shades, depending on the disposition of the person looking at the image, their way of perceiving it and the impact that it can have on such and such an area of the brain. It takes an incredible mastery of freehand drawing to arrive at a successful finished work.

Youri Messen-Jaschin art optique

What are the subjects that inspire you?

In Op Art, inspiration doesn’t come from any precise subject. This art form is entirely based on the use of geometric and mathematical shapes. When I create a work, I already have the next one I’m going to make in mind, and so forth. However, when I start sketching out my next piece, I won’t know what the final medium is going to be yet.

Youri Messen-Jaschin art optique

Swiss postage stamps

It’s as I progress with my drawings or models that the ideas take shape. Finally, it is at the end of this creative process that I decide what type of work it will be: it may turn into an oil painting, a sculpture, a screen print, a wall tapestry, an installation or a collage.

Youri Messen-Jaschin Optic Art
Youri Messen-Jaschin Op Art

In your opinion, who is the greatest artist of all time?

In architecture: Ruy Ohtake, a Brazilian architect I met in Sāo Paolo and Oscar Niemeyer whom I met in Rio de Janeiro.

In art: Henry Moore, who is famous for his bronze sculptures with slender, sensual forms, managed to capture a striking beauty in every one of his works. Known for his abstract bronzes, he mainly explored abstractions of human silhouettes, transforming each piece into a powerful metaphor of the body and the landscape. His monumental figures almost seem to be alive and bear witness to an impressive mastery of form and space.

Moore’s works often feature intriguing openings and cavities, reminiscent of excavations that captivate the eye and stimulate the imagination. These undulating and stretched-out forms evoke the landscape itself, creating a powerful resonance between the human body and natural features like cliffs, caves and hillsides. Moore weaves a subtle dialogue between the body and organic shapes, in particular by including references to human and animal bones, which give his sculptures a deep, universal resonance.

These profound analogies invite us to reflect on the essential connection between humans and nature. Moore’s works celebrate life in all its complexity and splendour, offering a unique perspective on our place in the world. When we gaze at a Moore sculpture, we are invited to meditate on the interconnection between life, art and the environment, making his work a fascinating exploration of the human condition.

Tell us about a decisive moment in your career as an artist

When I was studying at the University of Gothenburg, where I was already immersing myself in the textile art world through geometric shapes, I hadn’t decided yet what style of art I would go for. Pointillism, abstraction, surrealism… The options seemed to be endless. However, everything changed when I visited the Konsthall for the first exhibition in Sweden dedicated to optical and kinetic art, featuring works by masters like Jesús Rafael Soto, Cruz-Diez and Julio Le Parc. As soon as I walked into that museum, I was enthralled by the art, an art in motion, a world where every work seemed to breathe as it created illusions before my eyes.

It was a revelation: from that moment I knew that I would spend my entire life creating art in motion. At the preview, I had the privilege of meeting those visionary artists. Their presence and our discussions on the roots of this art in motion were profoundly inspiring. I even had the honour of inviting them to my home, where they shared the foundations of their in even more depth.

Since this transformative meeting, I have dedicated myself to Op Art, continually exploring new ways of captivating and thrilling my audience with optical illusions. Every piece I create is an invitation to plunge into a world where perception becomes a game, where illusion and reality are set in motion.

Youri Messen-Jaschin en Face à Face (youtube.com)

What was your first experience of ARCHES® paper?

My exploration of different fibres in the creation of my works, especially woodcuts and screen prints, is a good illustration of how the choice of paper is crucially important in the graphic arts. My experience at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, guided by my professor Robert Cami, taught me the importance of experimenting with various types of paper in order to find the one that best brings out the qualities of my printing inks.

I have always prioritised the use of noble hand-made papers made of different fibres such as rice, cotton and other plants. This commitment to the quality and authenticity of my works is reflected in the choice of these papers, which, thanks to their special fibres, offer textures, weights and ink absorption capacities that have a profound influence on the final rendering of the printed work.

Discovering Arches paper was a turning point, the revelation of a superior substrate for my works, in terms of structure and quality. Its ability to improve the depth of the blacks in woodcuts and intensify the luminosity of the colours in screen prints highlights its exceptional properties. These characteristics are probably due to it being made of long cotton fibres, which improve absorption and ink retention without compromising the brilliance of colours. In addition, the remarkable durability of Arches paper, capable of retaining its quality for 50 years or more, sets it aside as an unrivalled choice for life.

ARCHES® paper in one word?

Intensity and depth of colours, and durability over time.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’m putting the final touches to a wall tapestry that I started in June 2023, which will be completed this autumn, on my low-warp loom.
At the same time, I’m working on a new screen printed Op Art work on the largest format Arches paper available, 120 x160 cm, 400 gsm Velin d’ARCHES® in a collaboration with an Austrian screen printing workshop, Stainer Co. in St. Martin/Lofer.
At the end of this year, I’m also going to have the pleasure of creating a screen print with Lorenz Boegli, who has been my favourite screen printer for over ten years.

Added to this, there are also two new oil paintings on linen canvas, which explore new dimensions in Op Art and my optical illusions hidden in my works.

At the same time, I’m also writing a novel inspired by a trip I made during the dictatorship in Argentina, a book that promises to be as rich in emotions as it is in reflections.

Each of these projects represents a facet of my artistic quest, a journey through different techniques and media, all of them united by the desire to capture and communicate moments in time, stories and unique experiences.

Do you have any other projects on the go or planned?

In 2025, I hope to make a large Op Art sculpture for a major exhibition planned by a foundation situated in the Neuchâtel area of the Jura, as long as the sponsor agrees to fund the project. This work will include stainless steel, screen printed perspex and indestructible wire, combining durability and a modern aesthetic.

In the coming years, I also plan to continue my research work exploring movement and my optical illusions, especially with more new oil paintings, screen prints and wall tapestries. My creativity is boundless and I am determined to keep pushing back the boundaries of art, to keep dizzying my audience.

Alongside my artistic work, I’m also continuing with my research in neuroscience with the “Brain Project 2” project, in collaboration with Lausanne University Hospital, the Inselspital in Bern, the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and my team of neuroscience researchers.

We hope to find the funding we need to launch “Brain Project 3”. In the scientific field, research never ends.

Youri Messen-Jaschin livre

L’Op art rencontre les neurosciences – Éditions Favre (editionsfavre.com)

My scientists and I regularly share new ideas to develop and enrich our project. This synergy between art and science is opening up exciting new horizons and contributing to a better understanding of the human brain and Op Art.

“Science and art, an excellent combination”

Youri Messen-Jaschin

Youri Messen-Jaschin (yourimessenjaschinopart.com)
Youri Messen-Jaschin (@messenjaschin) • Photos et vidéos Instagram
Youri Messen-Jaschin – Book ” Op art meets neurosciences ” Brain Project ” – PM. Favre (editor) & Association Brain Project | LinkedIn

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