To celebrate the launch Antwan Horfee's latest publication, Buzzard Control, we sat down and caught up with the Parisian artist. Talking all things QSL cards, painting, the avante-garde art movement, books, and more. Check it...
GOODHOOD: Can you talk us through what QSL cards are, what does QSL mean?
ANTWAN HORFEE: QSL is a radio code from the list of a Q codes based on 3 letters mainly. Starting by Q, meaning “can you acknowledge receipt?”. Others like QRA or QSM can be find elsewhere on the info of the cards, meaning the interest of the practitioner. So basically once you have the necessary material, CB transmitter, antenna and lots of cables then you could reach frequencies that others could hear and even answer using certain channels. If you decided to make an amateur radio show back in the days, then you had to design yourself some sort of a business card, but without business. Pure wish to share and make people aware of your existence. Cards are mostly the size of a postcard, referring to the first transmission witness telegram back in 1918. The first received signal needed to be mentioned so they sent a postcard as a proof. I guess they kept that format as history and standard of communication for the network. We can observe how much pleasure people had to declare their ideas, to create avatars and to transmit the wish of listening to them; graphical composition and how information and images are collapsing is super refreshing, intriguing and sometimes incredible.
GH: What are your favourite things that you collect?
AH: Right now I look at animation cells and a bit of architecture books. Big subjects hah! My friend put me into cells, and I fell in love. Part of a movie in my hand, just wow. When I say right now I mean since 10 years, but these days I focus a bit on what to do with it. I already showed 40 of my favourite ones recently, it only gave me the wish to have more. Vampire Hunter D, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Future Boy Conan or Devilman. Weird framing in the middle of actions, flat colours and evolved background made to receive heroes and variant subjects over them.
"WE CAN OBSERVE HOW MUCH PLEASURE PEOPLE HAD TO DECLARE THEIR IDEAS, TO CREATE"
GH: Favourite books you’ve bought this year, and why?
AH: This year I bought so many books, damn! But let’s say “The art of Tohl Narita”, “Creeping Death from Neptune” from Basil Wolverton, and “La Memoire Du Futur“ from Moebius. Only intense classics. I always search escape ways, image books such as comics or illustrated novels. They can be used easily to block reality, to dive straight into a hole like Alice haha. I use and touch books everyday. I am never tired, it is probably because my generation still had books and 5 TV channels as only source of distraction at home. Re-reading the same one over and over that you had in your hands because your grandad let this one go. Very romantic but very true. I kind of kept that reassuring feeling of peeling one frame, one scene with the size of the lines, the half-toned colours etc etc. Reading one text page until you know exactly what you see when you read it many times, when you’re in your living room, you think of that book, then you see automatically this picture in your head. That is the type of object I research. It doesn’t mean the rest doesn't interest me haha.
GH: What are you listening to currently?
AH: Currently I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks, and trippy sound illustrations. Intergalactic FM, you guys know them? The Best. From masters to unknown, I love how chaptering gives rhythm on a OST album.
"THEY CAN BE USED EASILY TO BLOCK REALITY, TO DIVE STRAIGHT INTO A HOLE LIKE ALICE"
GH: What drew you to QSL cards, how did you initially discover them?
AH: I discovered the QSL cards on a Tumblr, back in maybe 2008. I was trying to remember all the Tumblr names by heart, I was so bad at computers. I am still bad to be honest. So absolute no chance to save a http. So that one struck me, I saw this strength of drawings I had never seen before, with letter types etc etc. I saved some in a file so I could check them without being online. The more I looked at it the more I realised no one specially made it, no one had a recognisable style, no way to identify anything. So that weird list of images never left that file. I still have it, funny it is. But in the US I found some real ones on tables in flea market. I bought a few there, then a few binders, then a few shoeboxes online hahaha.
GH: Who are your design heroes?
AH: The designers I prefer are mostly drawers that made designs, or customised stuff. Cars or buildings. Maybe considered as artist first. Sometimes they are sketches only, sometimes they actually made the object. Peter Cook from Archigram, Tadanori Yokoo or Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. I see an amount of work where it’s possible to observe that they created trends, they took the risk, they mixed it all, and nothing was fabricated to reach an audience, things were made to explore and innovate. Now it is just the standard world language, that’s it!
"THAT ONE STRUCK ME, I SAW THIS STRENGTH OF DRAWINGS I HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE"
GH: You’re inspired by the Avant-Garde art movement, do any other art movements inspire you?
AH: Well I love movies science fiction novels, worlds created to shake our lives. Movies use visual effects, all sort of bluffing techniques, matte paintings and animatronics. All these specials components well organised to create a serious piece of memory sometimes. It is not really a movement, but this is my favourite thing after I leave the studio. If we consider the term movement, then for my concern we look into all sort of little niche passions. They are called culture for some, they don’t even exist for others. Furniture design, Hawaiian shirt fabrics or Aquarium organisation, I love it all.
GH: Favourite cities or areas to paint?
AH: I don’t paint cities I don’t know what you mean. But right now I want to go to the desert of Tunisia, it's amazing going to the desert.
GH: What does your creative process look like, how do you find your inspiration?
AH: I combine all sort of things or authors I like. Building compilations of many emotions or sensations in one format. It’s quite thrilling to adjust space, dynamism, shapes and masses following your own rules. Sometimes I am seriously into a series, to profile techniques better, and then I turn and change and add the next language I learned recently. Colour mixes, layers and density are sciences like plants, water and soil. I paint a few paintings simultaneously, sometimes I block myself on a series of drawings. I also produce books with friends. All kinds of formats can fit the pleasure of putting art together. The more I do, the better I feel. These days I mostly do panoramic paintings in a huge collective garage called “La Volonté 93” in the suburbs of north Paris. 15 people together sharing experiences and trying to build projects. It has an exhibition space, it’s exciting! Inspiration comes from what I have on my plate everyday of course, I dig history and lots of objects from the flea market too. I always combine a few printed images, atmosphere and the wish of breaking my habits from one painting to another. Honest aspect of the expression of someone is what makes me stop on a form of art. Singularity is very hard to find and as an example QSL cards are full of it. It’s fascinating how we creatives are trying to reach singular identity when each person in certain conditions can express simply his own.
GH: Can you tell us about any projects in the works?
AH: I am aiming to make more movies, animation, etc. Art movies rare and fragile. It is such a diverse world, I really want to explore more. I will do another book soon about purple drawings. Then there are a few shows I’m participating in in Belgium and in Germany. So no time to waste!