I would be happy to paint all of Moscow!
This young artist from Paris has been in Moscow three times over the past three years, and was delighted by his visits. So why does the 36-year-old Frenchman like our city? And how does an artist see the Russian capital? How much has Moscow changed and has it improved from an aesthetic perspective? What’s most impressive to foreigners?
In March 2017, Vesna Shopping Mall on New Arbat Avenue was completely transformed. Muscovites and guests of the capital couldn’t walk by without doing a double take. Romain Froquet, who had been invited to work on the project from france, was in charge of the building’s interior and exterior. Romain was born in 1982, and currently lives and works in Paris. He regularly participates in different exhibitions and art projects all over the world. But Romain is no ordinary artist. He does more than work on paintings in his favorite abstract style in his workshop, spending whole weeks or even months in front of an easel. He also does graffiti and street art on streets, squares, playgrounds, and department stores. If he had the opportunity, he was would paint the whole city, filling even the greyest parts of it with color and joy. This shows the extent of his incredible creative freedom, which knows no bounds.
“This my third visit to the Russian capital,” Romain smiles as he talks to journalists during a small press conference, “The first time, I came because I had my own personal exhibition at Askeri Gallery, and the opening was a very special day for me. The second time, I came for a wonderful project on New Arbat. The third time was for the opening of another personal exhibition in Moscow. I’m really grateful to the owner of the gallery, Polina Askeri – she was the one who invited me to Moscow. Polina is a very positive person. She believes in my work, which is especially important for an artist.”
Romain has a unique background in working on shopping centers. In 2015, he painted the ceiling lamps for the Parisian department store Printemps, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary. The store was planning for the change to be temporary, but the lamps fit so well with the interiors management decided to keep them. Froquet was very happy when he for an offer to work on Vesna in Moscow after Printemps. “This was especially interesting, because Printemps is one of the oldest department stores, which opened in 1864 and has the corresponding interiors, while Vesna looks very modern and it’s a fairly new shopping space that has a lot of space and is filled with light,” he said, “When I first came to this store with its multitude of glass displays, I had an association with a greenhouse that contains a lot of blossoming vegetation. Plus, wood is a symbol of the cyclical nature of human existence.”
Romain managed to transform the Vesna’s interiors and create an conceptual art space on every floor. A true garden blossomed here thanks to his work. Froquet worked with a lot of enthusiasm, and really came to appreciate the Russian capital. “I really like Moscow and its residents. I get the feeling that Russians and French people are very similar. How? In the way they perceive beauty. I’m impressed that Russians are open to the world, but at the same time don’t lose their identity. I learned about Moscow step-by-step. The first time, my visit was very short, just a couple of days, and I only saw the city from outside a car window. The second time I was busy with work, completely consumed by my project, and didn’t get a chance to walk along the streets much. Then finally on my third visit I saw Moscow with my own eyes and truly got a feel for the city. So what was I impressed by? The scale! It’s an incredibly huge city, and it’s very energetic. It doesn’t stay in place, it’s always moving, and you feel this insane rhythm immediately. As an artist, I really liked the evening lighting for the buildings and streets. The way the buildings all have different lighting is fantastic! The center is the most impressive part! But you won’t believe what surprised me the most! It’s the intersections and underground crossways – I’ve never seen anything like it. There aren’t a lot of underground crossways in Paris, and they’re usually connected to a metro entrance. But here, underground crossways are often there just for people to cross the street. I walked in the city by myself for a long time, and realized that I want to come back to Moscow again and again. I’ve only managed to walk in the center, saw the Kremlin and the Red Square, visited the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art on Gogol Boulevard. But I dream of visiting other places. For example, the Maxim Gorky Apartment-Museum on Bolshaya Nikitskaya, which is located in the beautiful manor house built by the famous architect Fyodor Schechtel. You could say I’m a big fan of this writer. But unfortunately, the Gorky museum was closed for a holiday the day I went. So I have a goal – to definitely go there next time I’m in Moscow. And of course, I would like to work in your city again. Right now, I’m painting a huge children’s playground in Paris – it’s about 400 square meters – and you’ll be able to see it from space. I like projects like this, because when an artist’s work is seen by not just people who go to the exhibition, but millions of passers-by on the street, this fills you with energy and the feeling that your art brings value to the city.”