Bob Tonic offers sculptures in resin, bronze, concrete, one-of-a-kind or limited edition works. BT is a creative team created in New York City in 2018 by two former French advertisers, “because we were already working there, it’s a cradle of urban arts, with a tough audience that has seen it all…” Bob Tonic is an experiment: can we put impeccable technical means at the service of neo-pop works? Can we approach this market – with its dealers and galleries – like a start-up?
Why take a pseudonym, Bob?
“Because we are a duo, our initials are double B’s. Bob makes sense. Bob makes sense. We come from advertising, we spent our lives in a world of marketers, halfway between pure creation and hard business. Our deepest references are advertising and pop culture, an adoration for magazine covers and retro posters; so yes, the name Bob Tonic is a vintage collage, an ironic and retro facade, which allows us not to take ourselves seriously in a committed attitude, it’s anti-nombrilist; what we propose should be more interesting than “who we are”. Bob, first of all, is the same perfect symmetry as pop, so it is our vision, our proposal. Tonic, because we both have a great positive energy, we have often risen from the bad blows of life. There is this bitterness in the tonic which resembles the real life… And then it mixes well with gin, vodka; urban art is a giant cocktail where everything would be ideally well dosed. We mix, we cut, we put back together pieces that touch us. We worked a lot on the basic idea before starting at the end of 2018.
And what is the idea exactly?
“Urban art is the antithesis of our former profession. It’s “No Display”. All this weed that grew in the 60s, counter-culture, protest, explosion of the big consumption. It was totally on the fringe, and of the art market, and of legality. It’s funny to see how today, in the 2020s, that margin has become the norm. And the weed has become this vast, well-cultivated field. We like the idea of getting into that, when everything, absolutely everything, has already been done, and done very well in this great pop iconography. We just thought: let’s produce something. But let’s reason with our background; let’s not start from the posture of an artist, but from an urban art start-up, a “st’art up”. Let’s start in New York to go back to the roots, let’s approach sculpture because it’s complicated, technically and financially, and let’s learn to work with materials. Let’s start from popular iconography, let’s go back to the foundations of pop. For example, Banksy’s “Girl with a Balloon” has become one of the mythical images of the beginning of the 21st century, just like the Coke bottle in the previous century. If urban art becomes iconic and self-parodying, the circle is wonderfully closed. So we do Escape From The Wall, the girl with the balloon, who takes off from her wall.”
So the guiding thread would be a detour of the great figures of urban art?
“Maybe. We inserted Robert Indiana’s Love into a concrete boxing glove. It’s called ‘love is not a fight’. We created this giant spider crab, a 4-meter sculpture, prickly and tortured like Louise Bourgeois, but with the glossy red, a bit too much, of a Koons. The real guiding idea, however, is to create unique pieces or very limited series with great rigor in execution and finishing. The splash effect is a classic, but we have made it a spectacular and perfectly finished object, our production process is expensive. Beyond resin, bronze and concrete, we will explore, torture and test new materials for this type of work. Thinking like a start-up allows us to free ourselves from a style, from the famous artist’s touch, from his line of conduct… And why not, to put tech innovation at the heart of it all.”