Some Words on What I Do

A close friend recently asked me what my paintings were about. I would say they are about many things, about paint, for example. There is a physical contact with the medium and I feel that it is important that the images that I create are communicated through the paint itself. I work with my hands and I want this to show. This is not a romantic rejection of all that is machine-made. Given the subject matter of my paintings it is a necessity.

I believe there is a link between the body and paint. I am not concerned with a realistic portrayal of the physical details of the body, but rather with the creation of a physical presence from which « something else » will emerge. This « something else » I can only call the « soul ». My paintings express a feeling of being connected to life, to a certain visual reality I must come to terms with in making a painting. I consider drawing from life fundamentally important because through drawing I have developed a real feeling for the human body. Not just for its structure, but also for its expressive power and its ability to bring us into contact with the energy and vitality within us. I do not see the body strictly as an object. Because I am primarily interested in the spiritual meaning of the human form, I usually paint from memory. I only begin a painting once the initial source of inspiration has had time to filter through me.

I see life as, amongst other things, a quest for understanding the meaning of our existence. My paintings are perhaps a visual record of my own quest, the gradual creation of a certain vision of the world. Putting this vision down on canvas is a real struggle at times, and so my paintings are also a record of this struggle.

Have I answered my friend’s question? It is difficult to write about painting for if I have chosen to paint it is because I wish to express myself in a way I cannot with words. This may appear something of a contradiction and yet there are moments when I step back and ask myself the same question. One of the characters in Laurence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, in speaking about writing, says that first one must understand intellectually what it is one wants to do, then sleepwalk to reach it. I feel this could be applied to all artistic creation.

Montreuil, February 1992