Constantin Chopin is French artist based in Los Angeles. Chopin was was born in Puyricard, a small village near Aix en Provence in the south of France. He was introduced to Graphic Design at Cambridge’s School of Art, United Kingdom. Early tensions involved his discernment of associations and affinities for various histories and mythologies. In this regard, Chopin is something of a classicis who finds a veracity of expression in more ancient forms. As a creature of the modern, Chopin takes on a difficult task which he describes as, “finding way to draw on these ancient influences in a way that finds relevance in contemporary and future-casted designs.” This emphasis on “future-casted designs” speaks to his multidimensionality as an artist: He is concerned not only with past forms and their relevance to the present, but for what how both might shape future unfoldings.
Following completion of his bachelor’s degree, Constantin spent a year in London honing his creative, intellectual, and technical fundamentals. He did so by interfacing and working in various collaborative and visionary contexts. This involved the strengthening of associations with various artists, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs.
In 2016, Constantin desired carry his craft to the next level of academic engagement. This prompted him to begin his MFA in graphic design at ArtCenter College of Design in California, USA. Constantin accomplished his degree with vivacity and seriousness — an accomplishment which led to a feature in Graphic Design USA as one of the “Students to Watch 2019.”
Throughout his time at ArtCenter, Chopin revisited those ancient influences and developed his own creative philosophy. Using traditional and modern creative languages, Constantin employed a vast cultural heritage to nurture inspiration. From branding exercises and storytelling, to experiential installations, Chopin questioned and explored the space that exists between the physical and the digital. Now a faculty member at ArtCenter, Constantin shares his influences and thoughts on the nature and future of Creativity.
The town of Puyricard has a geographic and social relationship with Aix en Provence that closely resembles a constellated form. It’s unsurprising that Chopin’s work is concerned with the classical constellations. The grandeur of Chopin’s work in this regard belies his humble roots. Such a dynamic hearkens to a deeply meaningful truth: that sweeping macrocosmic visions are often born from microcosmic spaces. This is not enough for the oft three-dimensional Chopin, whose work also explores the mesocosms which lie between macro and micro. These liminalities also abound in his exploration of the spaces between physicality and digitality.
The embodiment of these visions lies in Chopin’s Aratea series. Aratea contains fourteen prints that use a modern lens in order to depict constellations and their associated mythologies. Chopin describes Aratea as “a multi-generational poetic map of the heavens.” The utilizes a “mixed-medium approach to revive the thoughts of the ancient poets Aratus of Soli (315 B.C.E.), and Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.E.).
“In the early 3rd BC, flourished in Macedonia, a young greek poet named Aratus of Soli,” says Chopin. “His only surviving work; Phaenomena – a book aiming at describing the constellations and weather signs — used didactic poetry as a medium to communicate practical information.” Chopin’s website is more of a interactive experience of poesis than an online gallery. The section containing Aratea commences with a passage from Aratus of Soli. The passage in question reads:
“From Zeus let us begin, him do we mortals never leave unnamed, full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men, full is the sea and the heavens thereof, always we all have need of Zeus.”
Chopin’s says, “The idea is that, knowledge of the stars allows you to recognize changes of season, to anticipate weather changes, and to navigate through space.”
Chopin continues his exposition of Aratus’ biography, noting Cicero’s translations:
“For the next hundred of years, Aratus’ Phaenomena served as a framework for various ancient poets and scholars that all independently revived the story through poems and mythological stories. In 106BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero translated Aratus’ work from Greek to Latin, greatly influencing thinkers of the throughout the middle ages.”
Chopin taps into this tradition for Aratea, noting that:
“In a true Aratean fashion, I used materials from both Aratus and Cicero to form the core of the illustrations while integrating adjacently information about the stars and the heavens from complimentary ancient sources and NASA’s. Fascinated by this creative process that defies time and space. I wanted to carry this knowledge further, into the modern world, and shed a new light on this ancient wisdom.”
So… We arrive at Chopin’s first constellation print, entitled Centaurus:
The Centaurus constellation depicts an centaur wielding a bow. The piece not only depicts the constellation itself, but a stunning and original representation of the archer in the act. The work is then interceded with precise astronomical details, using modern information sourced from NASA. For example, the image below lists the characteristics of the Proxima Centauri star, which forms a node on the constellation Centaurus. It details size, brightness, color, and more:
Passages from Aratus’ work itself are also woven into the piece, with close regard to the negative space within the representation. Here, another navigational text related to Zeus can be seen and beheld against the golden-bronze representation of Centaurus:
Chopin’s piece shimmers with splendor. The work exudes a sense of magnitude that reflects the towering nature of the star-forms we call constellations. Lucky for us, there are thirteen more prints in the series which we will continue to explore. Stay posted for Chopin’s equally impressive Aquarius.
Constantin Chopin can be found via his website, hieros.io
Images and art via Constantin Chopin © Reproduction strictly prohibited.
Images of Château Grimaldi and Aratus of Soli via WIkimedia Commons. Works in public domain.