Surfer Magazine ran a one page feature on the talented and lovely French artist Céline Chat. See the spread and article below…
Article in: SURFER Magazine, Big Issue, August 2008:
People Who Surf
Céline Chat, 33 by Destiny Irons / Photo by: JP Van Swae
The yearning to ‘stick it to the Man’ may be a cliché, but that’s only because every working stiff in the world has sat in his or her gloomy cubicle and fantasized about wasting away in paradise. Of course, there are people out there who actually don’t care about 401K plans, Roth IRAs, and braces kids. Usually they’re gypsies. Or starving artists. Or fanatical surfers. In Céline Chat‘s case, she’s three for three.
But first, Chat is a painter. While attending college in France, she had a revelation. "I painted for long time and drawing my [art]books," she says, "but my parents didn’t want me to be an artist. They wanted me to be a teacher or a doctor. But It wasn’t for me."
So she did it. She up and quit school, took off with her boyfriend, and became a gypsy. Her parents thought it was a phase, a childish rebellion. And the prodigal daughter might well have returned, if she hadn’t set foot on a surfboard.
The ancient Greeks believed that when a Muse sang to an artist or poet, she gifted him with divine inspiration. Ten years ago, when Chat surfed for the first time, the heavens opened up and the Muses sang: The gypsy painter became surfer. "Life on the beach is…freedom," she says, "I like to be inspired buy the ocean."
Chat isn’t exactly a ‘starving artist,’ as surfing and art have proved to be a somewhat lucrative combination for her-at least enough to keep her fed and traveling. She’s also earning a spot in surf culture. The International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach is running her exhibit until the end of August; she has shown her work at the Roxy Jam in Biarritz, France, for the past two years and at the Rip Curl Venus festival in 2005; she’s done posters and greeting cards for Roxy; and in 2007, she exhibited at the Mostra Alma Surf Festival in Brazil and has been invited back again this year.
Traveling widens her perspective. Chat says, "I just take everything I learn in my travels and put it into paintings". While some artists base their work on their mood or subject, the titles of Chat’s series are based on paradisaical locales, sounding more like postcards than pieces of art-‘Spirit of Indonesia’, ‘St Barth experience’, ‘Souvenir of Morocco’, and ‘Caribbean rhythm’, to name a few. Each series is at least a dozen of paintings, all using specific media that communicate the feeling of each destination.
So why ever put down roots? Chat says, "One day, I’d like to buy property and build an art studio". Her base camp right now is in Guadeloupe, a beautiful French Caribbean archipelago that has perfect weather and great surf year-round. It’s downright Utopian, if you can stand the hurricanes and active volcano. She and her boyfriend rent a room on the beach, and simply surf and paint. Having a small space to create art can hardly be called ‘roots’, but it’s the closest she’s come for a while. It seems that Chat’s muses keep calling. "It’s feeling the Ocean all around you and feeling small," she says. "It makes me feel like I am small here on the Earth… I think it’s the true way to be happy."