Meeting Charles Pétillon

French photographer Charles Pétillon, truly captivates and mesmerises us with his series ‘Invasions.’ From Shanghai to Etna, Pétillon takes us on a journey across the globe through his magical installations.

However, who is the man behind the white balloons ?

Your work is extraordinary and very identifiable, especially your Invasions series. Why did you choose to work with white balloons?

It was during research into my applied art work. As I was experimenting with various mediums, it dawned on me that balloons could be used as a raw artistic material like paint. I very quickly turned my curiosity into practice, and began also addressing societal and philosophical questions in my work. These questions forced me to examine the meaning behind my use of material, and view balloons according to the formations they could create. I find that balloons allow me to materialise ideas or concepts in a poetic way.

Balloons allow me to materialise ideas or concepts in a poetic way.

Your installations question our perception of space and our environment, whilst occasionally making us lift our heads. Was this your intention?

Balloons are surprisingly captivating no matter how many or few are used. When you put them in a particular space they congregate like the fingers on a hand, pointing our attention towards something usually unnoticed. I find this completely refreshes our outlook on our environment, because balloons provide a new element to our spaces by altering the way we see things. The viewer no longer merely “views” but actually sees.

How do you decide which location to use for your installations?

I associate an enormous importance between my subject and my location, they are one, so it is fundamental I choose the right place when creating my installations. Where I assemble my balloons is integral to the piece as a whole. It is the installation that opens and maintains a dialogue and relationship with the space.

It is the installation that opens and maintains a dialogue and relationship with the space.

Do you have any favourite artists? If so, which ones?

Yes, there are a lot of artists and designers who fascinate me. I collaborated with Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for many years, and I’m a huge fan of Georges Rousse, Robert Smithson, James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson.