My speech at
the WEF Davos 2001
asked CHRISTO : “ What is ART ” ? He gave the answer : “ ART is
the abbreviation of Arthur ! ” ART is
not a death serious thing. It is the joy of creating. Nothing
complicated, mystic, confused or esoteric. ART is a clear will
to create. When I paint, I never think about making ART.
ART is more than ugly or beautiful. You cannot make bad ART, but
bad painting. Most people love nice paintings, they prefer the
easy things, but PLEASING pictures are boring. ART does not make
much noise. Sometimes it surpasses us, so let’s approach it with
humility. After so many years I still do not know exactly what
ART is. You cannot explain EVERYTHING.
I believe ART is being able to create and transmit emotions in a
VERY PERSONAL WAY specificly HUMAN. To paint is to communicate.
I do not ask you to break down into tears in front of my
pictures ! This means : I paint just for painting. I do not make
my psychoanalysis, I do not moralise nor accuse in my work, and
I do not have a political mission to accomplish.
Figurative painting tells us a story : This is a mountain, this
is a house, this is a cow ! It reproduces an OUTER reality.
NON-figurative painting does not tell us a story. There is
nothing to understand. You listen to music with your EARS, you
look at my pictures with your EYES. It appeals to the instinct
and not to the intellect, to IMAGINATION and not IMITATION.
The NON-figurative artist creates something which does not
exist. In doing so, he asks the spectator to participate and be
creative himself. It is wrong to classify man in artist or
non-artist. We are all called to be creators, this is not only
for a few privileged people.
To paint non-figurative is a terrible challenge. Everything is
possible ! You meet the UNKNOWN. It’s like climbing a mountain
without a handrail. In figurative painting you can hold on to a
face, a nose in the middle and a mouth underneath.
Non-figurative ART is a risk and an adventure everytime. At the
beginning I have an idea, but soon forms and colours do whatever
they want. Things happen through me and I let it go. Too much
WILL is prejudicial to the artistic expression, as is also too
much technical skill. Nevertheless there is a lot of discipline
in my work. First of all there is the struggle for a perfect
I “dance” on and around the canvas on the floor. With broad
GESTURAL brush strokes (I make my huge brushes myself) I search
for a form, wich figths against another form. The result is a
painting. In trying to make it better and better, I often overdo
and kill it. To paint is a constant selfcritique, I cannot work
every day. My biggest aim is LESS IS MORE, a sort of ascetism.
If I succeed in having less on the canvas but with a stronger
expression, I am very happy.
Earlier I never used black in my paintings, but now I have found
that black is beautiful. Pierre Soulages says : “Le noir rend la
couleur plus lumineuse”, which means : Black renders the colours
more luminous and makes them sing. Would the stars shine if they
were not surrounded by a dark sky ? Black is calmness, silence
and serenity. It can be sign or script, or the spine of a
composition. Black is not sadness. This is a prejudice of
I do not want to pretend that non-figurative painting is ART and
figurative is not art. Every painting is ART, if it is true.
I work in Paris, in the former studio of MAN RAY, in the heart
of Saint-Germain des Près.
2 bis rue Férou, F-75006 Paris Tel+Fax 00 33 1 45 39 95 16
Ob. Hirschberg, 9050 Appenzell – Tel+Fax 071 787 12 85