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Cyril Lancelin: Creating dream worlds through public art

In Singapore for his latest installation, Remember Your Dreams, architect-turned-artist Cyril Lancelin talks about how public art can inspire creativity and convey meaningful messages.

Cyril Lancelin: Creating dream worlds through public art

Architect-turned-artist Cyril Lancelin with his installation ‘Remember Your Dreams'

As a child, Cyril Lancelin would tear apart cardboard boxes – much to his mother’s dismay – and re-construct them into ‘installations’ or dreams worlds, laying the foundation for the kind of artist he is today. When he got older, the dream of becoming an artist was temporarily cast aside. Lancelin would go on to become an architect for 15 years, specialising in 3D renderings, essentially realising visions of spaces. Apart from the architecture itself, his former job sometimes included rendering mock artistic installations that bring a space to life. 

Knot, Hangzhou (2017). Photography by Sam Hsueh.

“A lot of architects read art books and artists read architecture books – both are complementary and connecting,” says the Lyon-born artist. He found himself enjoying the process of rendering installations and started creating 3D drawings of imaginary public sculptures and sharing them on Instagram. House ‘hemi’ was a piece based on his old home. His first client saw it and brought it to life, paving the way for a new career path. To date, Lancelin has created multiple installations in physical spaces and virtual reality environments. 

His latest public installation, Remember Your Dreams – conceived as part of The Art of Dreams, a global art initiative by Porsche – is a larger-than-life lilac form spotting multiple curves inspired by the vintage Porsche 911“I like to work with arches because it is classical architecture,” he says. At 12.4-metre-wide, the installation is visible from afar, designed for people to enter from various sides to experience it not just from the outside but from the inside. The lack of enclosure also invites light and shadow to come through from everywhere. 

inflatable installation for The Art of Dreams initiative by Porsche
The immersive artwork was commissioned by Porsche as part of its ‘The Art of Dreams’ initiative

Unlike architecture, public art is not necessarily site-specific. In fact, public art tends to stand out to prompt the viewer to rethink their surroundings. Making its second stop in Singapore, the installation is set in the open lawn of The Promontory@Marina Bay, which offers a different experience compared to its debut in Paris where it sat next to a classical building. The presence of a temporary foreign object in a familiar environment makes one rethink their perception. As the artwork title suggests, Remember Your Dreams, invites the viewers to return to the very thing that makes their hearts soar. The inflatable structure is  of a light and durable fabric that makes it easy to transport and reuse as the intention was for it to tour other major cultural cities. 

“I like to bring people to different peoples so it opens up creativity,” Lancelin says. For him, public art is not meant to be concealed or observed behind a line. People should be able to touch, feel and become a part of it. “[The] public is part of the artwork, which is connected to the landscape, surroundings and sound,” he says, drawing similarities to theatre art where something is always happening, or the work of graffiti artists who would imprint their names in unexpected places. In that sense, public art is contextual even if it was not necessarily driven by context.

Cyril Lancelin Mix IOMA Art Centerr,
Mix, IOMA Art Center, Beijing (2021). Photo courtesy of IOMA.

Instead, Lancelin draws a lot from the larger society. Exploring the increasing consumption of technology and data is a common thread across his work. A permanent collection of the IOMA Art Center in Beijing, China, ‘mix’ is composed of melons that straddle reality and the virtual world in an artificial environment. Likewise, ‘Flamingo One Arch’ portrays a stylised representation of a flamingo, inspired by inflatable floats and pop art. It represents the endangered species and the limits of our planet, although ironically, “its image is multiplying in the figurative universe as it is often erected as a symbol of heavenly place in the world of tourism among others,” says the artist. 

Despite the sense of optimism brought about by the bright colours and primitive shapes of his installations – to that effect, his work has been used as a backdrop for yoga classes or even wedding proposals, which he enjoys – Lancelin’s pieces possess a dark undertone as they invite one to mindfully meditate and contemplate their place in the world.

Cyril Lancelin Flamingo One Arch
Flamingo One Arch- Dubai International Financial Center (2019). Photography by Maciej Frej

As part of Porsche’s global ‘The Art of Dreams’ iinitiative, Remember Your dreams by Cyril Lancelin is showcased at The Promontory@Marina Bay from 21 – 29 January 2022, as part of Singapore Art Week 2022. Admission is complimentary.

The next stop for The Art of Dreams will be a public exhibition held in Milan, coinciding with the Salone del Mobile 2022. 

Related: Singapore Art Week 2022: 10 exciting events not to be missed

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