Duo behind collective Palefroi on why their work is more interesting together than apart

Damien Tran and Marion Jdanoff are two French artists who together make Palefroi, an art collective based in Berlin. The duo is currently exhibiting their first solo show in Germany at Urban Spree Galerie where they recently finished their residency. The exhibition, “Étalage,” showcases their experimentation and collaboration, encompassing all parts of their practice from drawing and painting to animation and sculpture.

Photo by Lara Beins

A post for Omnified by Arian Bozorg

Damien Tran and Marion Jdanoff are two French artists who together make Palefroi, an art collective based in Berlin. The duo is currently exhibiting their first solo show in Germany at Urban Spree Galerie where they recently finished their residency. The exhibition, “Étalage,” showcases their experimentation and collaboration, encompassing all parts of their practice from drawing and painting to animation and sculpture.

We sat down with Damien and Marion to chat about their art and what drew them to Berlin.

KCRW Berlin: Palefroi spans so many different mediums, from screen printing, video, sculpture and painting. For someone who hasn’t seen your work, how would you describe Palefori?

Damien Tran (DT): I would describe it as a collaboration between me and Marion. I wouldn’t put a style or medium to it, especially since we really tried to open it up to a different lot of different mediums this year. We are still in the process of figuring out what we’re going to do next. What we are showing at this exhibition is a really exciting moment for us, but it’s also a bit early to know exactly how it will turn out in the future.

Marion Jdanoff (MJ): When people ask me, “what is Palefroi?” I think it’s quite important to say that we have two different styles of drawing. Damien is all about energy and gesture and is more abstract, I’m definitely more attached to figuration and storytelling. So, when we work together we have to find balance – a way to negotiate these two approaches. This way of mixing these two different styles is always changing, so we are always approaching it from a new angle.

KCRW Berlin: What have you been working on during this residency?

MJ: Most of the painting in the exhibition was done before I came to the residency but I created all the sculptures and we created two screen prints here in the studio.

DT: This is the first time I worked with a big format. I always draw small on A4, and I took advantage of the big studio here to make bigger drawings. I also worked on my drum performance, even though it’s not really in the show all day, it was important for me to have it for the opening, so I practiced quite a lot to have it ready in time for that.

KCRW Berlin: You both moved to Berlin from France, what drew you to the city?

DT: There are different reasons, but the main reason is I was really attracted to learn more about screen printing. At the time I started a really small studio by myself in France and during a trip to Berlin I met a lot of people doing screen printing and I wanted to meet those people and work with them.

MJ: Yeah, for me is more or less the same, I came here a bit by accident. You know when you throw a dart at a map and then it’s like, “Ok, I go to Berlin!” But I knew there was a big screen printing scene in Berlin and through that I made met Damien and we started Palefroi.

KCRW Berlin: You both still create your own work individually under Palefroi. Where does your own work end and Palefroi begin?

DT: We don’t have a fixed process to work together. Every time we find a collaboration tool we get used to it really fast and get a bit bored with it so we try to renew it a lot. For instance, for the mural we got directly inspired by this technique to separate a sheet, each having our own space to make different images.

DT: It’s a balance between our individual work and the collaboration work, which inspires us in both directions. So we spend some time alone to work on personal projects and when we work on a project together we bring some new influence or new techniques. And by working with somebody else we also get inspired by each other and this really brings a renewal of energy to your own work.

MJ: We couldn’t work together all the time because it’s a constant negotiation and sometimes it’s really good to be on your own and not compromise.

KCRW Berlin: What should people expect to see at your exhibition, “Étalage”?

MJ: There are a series of quite big format paintings. They are really colorful and next to it, is a huge series of black and white drawings by Damien, which are definitely in the energy category because it’s really rough and all about big gestures and making mistakes. So, there is this balance between this rough work and a more detailed, colorful paintings. There’s also a series of animations by Damien which furthers the idea of drawing and in the middle, there is these animals running away aiming for the window and trying to escape.

MJ: In this exhibition it is quite separated, apart from the two screen prints. All the work is clearly made by Damien or myself, but for me the fact that they are standing next to each other is really important. I feel that my work is a lot more interesting when it’s next to Damien’s because they have a kind of dialogue between them. That opens doors in a way.

Palefroi’s exhibition “Étalage” at Urban Spree Galerie continues until Sept. 2.