Robb Interview: Richard Orlinski, Artist
Richard Orlinski doesn’t care if you think his art is ugly. Here, Robb Report chats to the artist, provocateur, and undeniably divisive figure.
Richard Orlinski doesn’t make art for everyone. But that’s kind of the point. His facetted pop art-style beasts have graced the Croisette in Cannes and basked in the sunshine of the Miami Design District, with his ability to delight and divide in equal measure making the French contemporary artist the ideal fit for the house of Hublot.
Robb Report: There’s obvious pop art influences in your work. And if we touch specifically on Warhol having an impact—he’s someone who laughed at the art world in many ways, who went in new and unique directions with a different approach and an up-yours attitude. Can we say not dissimilar to yourself and how you go about things?
Richard Orlinski: That’s my mantra—fuck them, fuck them all, take the best fuck the rest. And that’s what I did—I wrote a book on this called Pourquoi J’ai Cassé Les Codes [Why I Broke The Codes]. I didn’t have the choice to do that because at the beginning, when I tried to start in this culture, I was going just to see people to help me and the door was always closed. So I say, “Okay, I will find another way.” And I find my own way… We have in France, in Paris, a very small “intelligentsia” and if you don’t follow their rules, it’s not possible to succeed. I don’t have “the card”. I still don’t have the card, but I don’t want to have the card because maybe if I had a card, it wouldn’t be such a success. So I’m okay with that.
You’re the rebel artist.
Yeah, but I assume it’s okay. And I’m popular. And I’m very proud to be popular because when you’re popular, you’re close to the people, you’re close to everybody. Even if there is special magazines, art magazines who tell us so many bad things about me. And there are very few people who read that. But then I do Paris Match and I have 800,000 reading. It’s okay for me if 90 percent people love you and 10 percent hates you. It’s okay. For me it works. The opposite would be a problem.
I feel a sense of fun whenever I see one of your pieces. And I feel that’s what life’s about for you as an artist. You’re having fun, right?
Fun, life, sharing, being positive. And even the kids when they’re two years old, they can love my sculptures. They can feel these sculptures, they can touch it. It’s not like in the museum, it’s not possible to touch. [My work] is easy understanding, easy reading, easy sharing, and also about emotion—and even if they don’t like it, that’s okay.
Because it’s still elicited an emotional response?
Yes, it’s emotion. Even when people say, “Oh, it’s ugly.” It’s okay for me, it gives something focused. And some people say, “Oh, this is not art. This is ugly.” But why are you noticing that? Because I have some magazine or some article? They’re very mad at me because I’m everywhere. They say, “Oh, Orlinski is everywhere and that is ugly…” Okay, so just follow your road and whatever.
We imagine you are offered many differing collaborations—why work with Hublot?
To be honest, Hublot was the biggest brand that’s allowed me to do what I want. I was free to create what I wanted. And to be honest, if you know the watch industry, there are very few collabs where you can do that—they might allow an artist to make some customisation, but that’s it, and that’s not creation. It’s just you put some stuff in, some painting in the watch and say, “Oh, this is the collab.” But with Hublot, we go further and we share a DNA. Also, I was a watch collector, so I know some things and I want to create a watch that you can wear.
The new piece you’ve released is your fourth for Hublot. Talk us through the appealing elements of design and what you like about the Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski.
I love it. And I have a saying—less is more. And I think this is really the inspiration with this. It’s elegant, simple, not “bling bling”, and it’s easy to wear. I think an evolution [from previous versions] and we’ve gone deeper and I think any watch collector can buy this watch. It’s not because of Hublot, it’s not because of Orlinski, it’s because of the watch.
Classic Fusion Chronograph Orlinski is available now, from $20,400; hublot.com
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