The mixed population
The numerous artists
I felt at home straight away
Places: L'Armony, La Collecterie, Les Fatalitas
dédé macchabée - FROM RETRO TO cosmic
Multi-disciplinary artist Dédé Macchabée came to Montreuil in the year 2000 and brought several worlds with her in her bags!
Musician and painter Dédé has created very specific universes is both of her disciplines, certainly very different from what we're used to seeing in the mainstream.
Through her paintings she takes us to an imaginary world where creatures live in an enchanted forest.
With her music she takes us back to the 1930s/40s/50s with her blues, jazz, rockabilly and hillbilly repertoires.
And last but not least another art form is the way she dresses because Dédé herself brings us another world with her unique retro look.
It's hard not to stop and admire when you pass her in the street. It's like something straight out of a 1940s film with her pencil skirts, her knits, her silk scarves and her red lipstick.
An artist from head to toe.
Let's meet Dédé, a creative who takes us far, far away
Of Italian origin, Dédé comes from a creative family.
Her grandparents came to France from Italy at the time of the Great Depression. They were milliners, specialised in straw hats. In France they extended their range to create boater hats and felt models.
Her parents, who met at the Italian circle in Paris, also were no strangers to creativity. Dédé's father played guitar in a traditional Italian band and painted at weekends.
Her creative talent surely must have filtered through from her family heritage.
NEEDLE DOWN, PEN UP
Dédé went to art school at 'L'École Duperré, where she specialised in fashion design. After she graduated she worked in fashion but it wasn't for her.
While at art school she started a fanzine/graffzine "Macchabée"with her friend Riri and they published around 30 editions in all.
But it wasn't until she met the founders of the famous music association "Paris Barrocks" Ronan Omnes and Rascal Suquet, that she gained confidence as an artist.
This association organised concerts (rock/ska/hillbilly/punk) in the alternative underground scene in Paris where they mixed art and music.
Dédé was attracted to the rebel spirit of this group of people and it was a source of inspiration. Ronan introduced her to many artists and musicians.
For one of their nights they asked her to design the poster/flyer and create artwork during the concert and that's where she sold her first drawings and her career as an artist really began.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO MONTREUIL
After having been drawing for a while, her first exhibition was... in Montreuil in 1993, rue Paul Éluard, organised by the new President of Paris Barrocks, Charlotte Darnal.
She didn't see herself as a real painter, as so far she had only drawn on paper.
"For me, painting on canvas using an easel was for "classical" or "academic" painters. I thought I could design posters
and so forth but not paintings. It was Ronan who took me to see exhibitions of painters like Capitain Cavern,
where I realised that you could put crazy stuff on a canvas painting, anything you wanted.
I tried and after that it took off from there."
Since then her style hasn't changed greatly. There is a slight evolution but she's stayed loyal to the world she's created.
Her influences come from several sourcess. A little bit of Casimir, some Muppet Show, a dose of Technicolor films, a pinch of Mangas, a dash of cartoon...lots of things fun and brightly colored!
Here in the middle, a commission which shows a grandma and her 6 grandchildren
HER IMAGINARY WORLD
Her imaginary world is composed of several elements. First there is Mr & Mrs Castor, we can see them in this huge painting, he's blue and she's red (which are in fact Dédé and her partner). There is the enchanted forest and the interstellar monsters who come from Venus.
The compositions we see are inspired from Dédé's life, her highs and lows.
"It's my life, it's past experience, people that I've met, places I've been. The themes that I present are very varied, it can be love, eroticism, food, nature, countryside..."
Personally I see religious scenes or reinterpretations of renaissance paintings, and Dédé agrees
"I've done pastiches of the Italian renaissance . I used to go every year to Italy so I've visted plenty of churches and museums
over there so that's definitely been an influence"
Elle fait aussi des pastiches. Elle a fait une série inspirée des "36 vues de Mont Fuji" de Hokusai, elle l''appelle "18 vue du mont Zarbi"
Here is another pastiche, this one of the famous "36 views of Mount Fuji" by Hokusai. She did "18 views of Mount Zourbi".
HEY HEY UKULÉLÉ
When I first met Dédé, I saw her singing and playing her ukelele.
She was singing in a kind of blues/hillybilly style. Her voice was so unique, a bit like everything about Dédé!
I didn't even know she was a painter too!
She started playing music about 20 years ago with her ex boyfriend. They created a rockabilly group together "Cattle Call" and played together for 15 years..
She later created a jazz group called "Pantrouche Poulette & the Pickle Pickers" (no longer together), a blues duo with René Miller and an all-female trio "Coucou Sisters" who sing 'old time' songs.
Performing solo has become very important to her, because she also wants to be recognised as an instrumentalist and not just a singer who harmonises with others!
But surprisingly her 2 worlds have only recently crossed paths.
"For a very long time I didn't mix the two. People who bought my paintings didn't know that
I was a musician too, but for about 4 or 5 years now, they know.
As time goes by, I'm linking them more and more, I'm finally embracing the fact that I'm a multi-disciplinary artist."
And she certainly is multi-talented!
Is there anything she can't do? When I met Dédé I also found out she makes her own clothes too!
The lovely knitted cardigan she's wearing was knitted by her hand. She knits, she sews, she alters, she repairs...
In dressing uniquely in vintage and hand-made clothes for over 20 years it's certainly not Dédé who's contributing to the fast-fashion scurge on our planet..
Her favourite spots in Montreuil for her vintage finds? Emmaüs, la Collecterie and the flea markets.
An exemple to us all!!
"I have a huge respect for clothes and I keep them a really long time,
I do not agree with our throw-away culture."
You can't fit Dédé into any category
She can teletransport us to a 1930s film with her look, take us to the backwaters of Texas with her music or propulse us into an intergalatic stratosphere with her paintings and their interstellar monsters.
But wherever we go with her, we're sure to be surprised every time.
This elegant artist is also an expert in the martial art Vo-Vietnam