Meeting Vincent Olinet

Sculptures of ice cream, fruit salads and even floating beds… no it’s not the dessert menu but rather the fascinating world of Vincent Olinet. His works are simultaneously sweet and spicy; exploring a whimsical world of possibility, where large wooden lipsticks and watermelons are carefully crafted with a chainsaw. Artsper went to meet the man behind the power tools.

We’re forever hearing complaints that “time is moving too fast” and that we “no longer have the time” to read, look or interact. Your world manifests that magical wonder from childhood, where viewers can get lost in your installations. Your works exhibited at the Galerie Laurent Godin in particular, are so ephemeral that time seems to be a central concept to your art; where it plays both the role as actor and prop. What is your relationship to time? Was your intention to question the viewer’s relationship to time?

Time for me is another art material. It is a dimension that combines the physical modification of the work into the work’s existence; allowing the sculpture to develop and even change. For example, the floating bed installation, “Pas encore mon histoire,” was given a patina to last months in the open, yet naturally the material changed due to its time in nature. The declining “freshness” of this material isn’t necessarily an “end” to the work, but rather another state of the sculpture. The same goes for “Nature Morte,” where the audience watched crockery made of ice melt in front of them, experiencing first-hand its brief but highly changeable existence. This is still considered a slow process in our time-sensitive lives, where YouTube videos of this process have been fast forwarded to avoid boring the spectator. The relationship between humans and time has been explored throughout art history, especially through concepts such as vanitas. My work also explores the notion of time and its relation to humans, just without the negative and at times sombre associations the West typically attribute to this concept (nostalgia, death etc). I aim to incorporate alternative cultural concepts such as “Wabi-Sabi,” a Japanese view that is defined by the acceptance of transience, decay and imperfection.


The floating bed installation, “Pas encore mon histoire,” was given a patina to last months in the open, yet naturally the material changed due to its time in nature. The declining “freshness” of this material isn’t necessarily an “end” to the work, but rather another state of the sculpture. The same goes for “Nature Morte”, where the audience watched crockery made of ice melt in front of them, experiencing first-hand its brief but highly changeable existence.

You create spectacular wooden sculptures, which are even at times, monumental in size. We also saw that you work with chainsaws to create them… how did you come to work in this way?

Through technology, I seek to understand and find new ways to work with materials. I try to keep my creations fresh with an amateurish charm, which is the case for my cake series and work “Chute d’un Empire, suite et fin”: a piece of furniture reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe. When it comes to working with a chainsaw, it’s the way lipsticks frequently alter in size that inspired me to work directly from tree trunks. I then went on to create “salade de frais”; a salad consisting of slices of watermelon and lemon made out of oak. It’s incredibly laborious, but the process is the same as using a cutter and piece of wood- just a bit more dangerous!

Do you have any favourite museums or galleries? If so, which ones and why?

I love going to the Louvre. Its abundance in work means sometimes i’ll go several times a week to make the most of it. With such vast collections, which cover several millennia, you need all the time you can get. There are naturally some gems I always go to see like, the full-length portait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud, Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint Anne and Rembrandt’s Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. It’s a breath of fresh air to see what other human beings have created and worn for months, even years; adding to and enriching the many perceptions we have of the world.

I seek to understand and find new ways to work with materials. I try to keep my creations fresh with an amateurish charm.

What are your artistic influences?

I draw inspiration from everywhere, ranging from Merovingian art to Makoto Shinkai cartoons. Paul McCarthy and Urs Fischer are my idols, and i’m also a very big fan of other, lesser-known but equally talented artists like, Sara Gassmann, Octave Rimbert-Rivière and Sookoon Ang.

What’s next on the agenda?

I’ll continue my ice crockery experiments, questioning the documentation of work in particular. I’ll also explore other projects like creating wallpaper out of real flowers.

Find his works on Artsper…