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Laurence JENKELL decorated with the medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by Franck RIESTER, Minister for Culture.

official ceremony held on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm at the Ministry of Culture in Paris that Laurence JENKELL was awarded the medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by Franck RIESTER, Minister of Culture, in presence of personalities from the world of Art.
Photo credit: Sebastien Valiela / Bestimage

By Decree of September 16, 2019 appointing and promoting in the Order of Arts and Letters, Laurence JENKELL was appointed Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

It was therefore during an official ceremony held on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm at the Ministry of Culture in Paris that Laurence JENKELL was awarded the medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by Franck RIESTER, Minister for Culture, in presence of personalities from the world of Art.

Laurence JENKELL, woman self-taught artist led her international career with a simple subject, the Candy and her famous twist that she has imposed in the world of contemporary art.

Speech by Franck RIESTER, French Minister for Culture:

(…) This is a recognition that goes straight to my heart, this beautiful medal. (…) I never imagined such a moment. It is somewhere like a little consecration, at least a real recognition, that is certain! (…) A revenge and a snook. It is true that it suits me quite well because I am still a rather rebellious woman and my subject of the moment, I really wore it alone. I imposed it all over the world. (…) It was a real test.

Contemporary Art, we can say that you may have discovered it late compared to others, but you have caught up well. You did not go to art school, I think, and in a way you claim it, as a form of determination to demonstrate that you can be a great artist without necessarily going through the “usual” stages of the artistic world.

You built yourself on your own, off the beaten path, and we must really value it as I’ve said at the beginning. It was in your kitchen in the early ’90s, I was told, that you started creating, experimenting, working on materials (…) packaging cartons, wallpapers, jean cloths, lipstick tubes, and then the famous Candy. (…) that you melt in your oven.

(…) Then you discover plexiglas, you heat it, twist it, sculpt it, in a way domesticate it. You make it a flexible, smooth, malleable, lightweight material as you have in hand. Finally, you make it your material. You give it the shape of a candy that you decorate and that is declined to infinity.

Those candies are your signature. And they have become, in a way like your signature your language, your way of expressing your artistic sensitivity. A universal commitment that is Art and that echoes a universal experience. Because to each one, each of these candies has particular memories or rather each has particular candy memories, each of us.

I have more or less ancient memories. They evoke a certain pleasure. To others like you, I think, it is deprivation I really believe that you did not have access to these famous candy. That is why you wanted to put them at the heart of your artistic creation. (…) It’s true that I have very specific ideas about candy I was a big fan of ‘car-en-sac’.

(…) And then by making it and packaging in the four corners of the world, you make France shine because your artworks have travelled around the world, its galleries, its fairs and also its streets, its squares. You occupied the space with your Candies so recognizable. And so these artistic creations, your artworks have occupied the public space, they are exhibited in many places near each of the audiences that can contemplate them, and so somewhere they were at the heart of our daily lives. And that is why this meeting is very important for me.

(…) You put art at the heart of the G20 in Cannes in 2011 a hedge of honor of your Candy Flags (…) to welcome the Heads of State. I saw the pictures during the ceremonies. (…) It really reminded me of memories of that time.

(…) In a way you also represent the audacity of creation, the creative audacity and the daring to represent emotion in a very special way for all to see. And I really believe that mixing audacity while representing France as you do is really exceptional. So I pass, because I know that it is not necessarily appreciated by the receivers, I pass the human qualities that are yours.

As I’ve heard a lot, you have very important human qualities that make you a truly unique artist. And it is for me, as Minister of Culture, beyond all pleasure a real pleasure to give you this decoration because France, once again today, shows its gratitude for the artist you are, but also the woman with all the human qualities you have, and that is recognized and celebrated. Dear Laurence JENKELL, we make you a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.’

official ceremony held on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm at the Ministry of Culture in Paris that Laurence JENKELL was awarded the medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by Franck RIESTER, Minister of Culture, in presence of personalities from the world of Art.
Photo credit: Photo credit: Sebastien Valiela / Bestimage
official ceremony held on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm at the Ministry of Culture in Paris that Laurence JENKELL was awarded the medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by Franck RIESTER, Minister of Culture, in presence of personalities from the world of Art.
Photo credit: Photo credit: Sebastien Valiela / Bestimage

Laurence JENKELL's acceptance speech:

(…) This is a recognition that goes straight to my heart, this beautiful medal. (…) I never imagined such a moment. It is somewhere like a little consecration, at least a real recognition, that is certain! (…) A revenge and a snook. It is true that it suits me quite well because I am still a rather rebellious woman and my subject of the moment, I really wore it alone. I imposed it all over the world. (…) It was a real test.

Candy is so much a subject that goes in my deepest self, as you rightly said, I had been deprived of it during my childhood. But I think we all have a very special relationship with candies.

So for me, it was a deprivation. Why? I never really understood. Nevertheless, it is the reality and I r suffered from it. And Mom took a great pleasure in taking me to the dentist who showed me super decayed teeth. I had nightmares as a child. Well, it was pretty dramatic and tragic.

So this subject of candy, I carried it all around the world and I realized that everywhere, precisely, internationally, that subject that is present in all the countries of the world, everyone has a special relationship with it. And from a simple everyday object, to manage to carry it on the scene of International Art, it is somewhere something quite strong in itself.

Candy, certainly it was initially thought to be a decorative object, but I proved that it was not at all a decorative object. (…) They are all different. They are unique pieces each time (..) and a unique twist.

(..) There is something very strong that emerges from this Candy and especially from the twist. It is important to know that it is not only the Candy at the end, it is the twist in itself that is my favorite subject. And it is this twist that I export today throughout the world. It is also a strong subject, a rebellion in relation to  subject of society that touches me deeply: Topics on the environment, on the consumer society, on violence against women.  By the way, we have an event about violence against women taking place today. That is true that by this twist, I can express myself and I believe that it will go very, very far.  Above all the Candy made me known internationally but the twist is a gateway to new horizons.