Stéphane Cipre

Paris, 1968. The beginning of winter, the end of year festivities have just concluded. In the city the tense atmosphere is increasingly palpable. The young couple are waiting for the arrival of their second child. A daughter this time, the king’s choice … It is this first Sunday of the year that Stéphanie decides will be D-day. But to his parent’s great surprise, as it turns out, it is clear that Stéphanie is in fact a boy. Stéphane Cipre was born on 7 January, at the dawn of the breakdown of a system ensnared by the underside of its consumer society. At home, the two boys occupied their affectionate and devoted mother’s full attention while their father carved out a demanding career. At that time head of a design/stylist workshop, the plan was to take over the manager’s Paris business while the latter pursued his business in Nice. But, due to a sudden change of mind, it was in the end the Cipre family that left the capital to start their family business in the Côte d’Azur. It was a blessing for this Nice family dating back several generations to “come home”. For the parents, it was a case of juggling between the workshop, its creations and its development; the household and its day to day running; and the kids growing up at a great rate, with a sporting emphasis between the sea and the mountains, as much as possible. For the little ones this was the start of social life, going to school.

For Stéphane, this was the beginning of swimming upstream against the current. As child he was by nature calm, and went where life led him without making a fuss. At school he was present, was not disruptive and in a peaceful reverie as often as not. The rules of grammar and other pre-established abstract formulae did not interest him. He was however very alert when manual activities were involved. At the end of primary school, the teacher gave her pupils the artwork project of making a doll. Forty years later, she still remembers the one Stéphane made. A strangely competent and rather fine result for such a young boy… He packed these years with extra-curricular activities, with the Éclaireurs (scouts) above all, and above all with sport. He tried his hand at judo, and rugby, and produced some excellent performances in skiing. He joined the federal tam and achieved sixth potion in the French ski jump championships at the age of 14.

The transition to secondary school marked a turning point for Stéphane. And nothing trivial either. A period of confrontation in the face of his first failures and an authority that he found difficult to accept. Discipline problems that were by no means ordinary. Stéphane was a polite and respectful boy. The problem was that he tended to regard himself as an adult and was unable to accept the hierarchical operation of the system in which he was told what to do and how. He was aware that there are many different ways of learning, he had his own opinions, and no doubts about how to express himself. He truanted from school and his time spent on sport was replaced by meeting girls and his friends. He did not spend more than three years at secondary school, of which two were spent in the sixième (~ first year) before he was permanently excluded.

His parents, lacking in resources, thought that a boarding school would be the solution to his disciplinary problems. At the Marist school, which was strict, and Catholic, from this experience Stéphane recalls his pranks after lights out, and his encounters with Père Doucin, who had retired to live in the establishment. A number of warm and welcoming discussions between the two individuals could sum up the situation. Stéphane was not a bad lad, but this place was not for him. The institution did not renew his registration for a second year.

Given the reality of the situation, it seemed clear that Stéphane was not made for sitting down and listening, so there had to be another plan. When he was 15, by means of a special dispensation, the parent-child negotiations hit on the solution of a CAP [certificate of professional competence, vocational qualification] as a designer-stylist, to be undertaken in the family business. With the CAP studied on an apprenticeship basis, less was more. Applying his dexterity to manual work gave meaning to his days. Alongside his father, who had achieved Meilleur Ouvrier de France [Best Craftsman in France award] 8 years previously, Stéphane learned the demanding standards and precision of craftsmanship, and acquitted himself remarkably well. Having an interest in things is not the same when one feels free to do them, and free to act. At 18 he passed his examinations with panache, and was awarded a distinction.

He began his young adult life in a somewhat hyperactive way, following on his day job as a designer with evening work in restoration, and then with regular outings with his friends at night. These were friends who are in some cases still with him in his mid-life, and at the time found it amusing to see Stéphane involved with painting… As he did not just think about earning living and enjoying himself. He was also interested in art. When he had a spare moment, he went to the Villa Thiole to make sketches for his own enjoyment, and enrolled in local classes run by the Ecole du Louvre to learn art history. He was a young, good-looking boy, life was smiling upon him and he smiled back. Stéphane has a dynamic, cheerful, generous temperament, and is more of a leader than a follower. One year, he took the initiative of doing everything to ensure that the end of year festivities should a moment of joy for the disadvantaged in the area near where he lived; another year, he dived in without hesitation to save a man from drowning. Almost a decade went by for Stéphane, who was very close to enjoying an equilibrium in his life. His future seemed to be mapped out. Professionally, he was following in his father’s footsteps, had shown himself to be serious minded, his work was done with great care, he took part in project creations at the workshop and became an important element in the family business. Having been in relationship for several years, his marriage added to the auguries of a successful life in all respects.

But it was not to be so. Bad times lurked around the corner. Crushed by the extent of deceit, his points of reference collapsed. His marriage fell apart and Stéphane became ill. The distress caused by the emotional shock led to a lifetime of medication. Nothing mattered any more. The next step, whether social or involving family, mattered little. He left the family business and shut himself away in his little apartment and started his treatment. Twelve tablets a day and a psychotherapist. He gave himself totally to this painful but necessary introspection, and found the answers to the questions sensitively asked by his therapist. It was at this time that he started to create his first artefacts. He discovered a new well-being, and rediscovered a serenity, which, this time, was authentic, almost like art therapy. A number of years of medical analysis and modified prescriptions culminated in a liberating diagnosis. The distress and other imbalances disappeared. The treatment ended.

Stéphane rose up from his peril that could have stunned him, with a new perspective on existence and having found a new energy. At the time he was living off minimum unemployment benefit, and he continued to create his artefacts that he sold on the art markets. But he needed to learn how to weld, in order to make progress to the next level. So he joined a plumbing company as a trainee to learn how to put metal together. Having noted Stéphane’s competency, his manager offered him a contract, a profession in effect. Even though one day he was to collect the works of Cipre, being a sculptor was not, in his view a very serious ambition. But even so…
Stéphane knew what he wanted to do now. He was 29 and he aspired to create.

Twenty years later, Stéphane Cipre has become an artist, and is free to turn the codes of an established language on their head. An artist, free to express his sensitivity concerning aspects of baseness of a real world. An artist, free to communicate his refined thoughts through the raw aspect of metals.

Works by Stéphane Cipre:

9 products

9 products