My speech at the WEF Davos 2001

Somebody 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 composition.
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 western civilisation.

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
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