Thoughts on Art Today
We could have long debates when it comes to define art, and I certainly don’t pretend to have the right definition. However, due to my choice to paint rather than follow the contemporary artistic trend, I must stand by my position on painting in the world of art today in order to remain honest and rational as a painter, knowing that my remarks are not unanimously supported. I must also say that I have the highest regard for all the artists currently working, regardless of their evolving path.
Evidently, current Visual Arts no longer have anything to do with techniques from earlier centuries; evolution naturally defines its own path as evolution and progress are inherently in constant motion. In this regard, I think that the painting technique and language have changed their role in today’s contemporary social reality and no longer relate to the development level of our era. The art of painting has moved on – the progressive separation between the modern world and traditional art was inevitable. As for painting, this reality remains puzzling to me; I still have a hard time defining today’s art. I am no art specialist, but in my opinion, the Cybernetic Artist Nicolas Schoffer came up with the most accurate definition of art and its application: "Art is the creation-invention, on the level of the mechanisms of thought and imagination, of an original idea having an aesthetic content that can be translated into effects perceptible to human senses.
In order to achieve this end, the creator must use a language and techniques which correspond to the true level of development of his time." It is therefore logic to say that Visual Arts must either go through cybernetics or installations involving original & mixed media, photography, animation, digital media, painting and any other current available innovative technologies. I am aware of the need to be guided by contemporary creativity and I have respect for today’s creative artists, but I wonder if such virtuous creations-innovations have ever occurred since the end of traditional arts to claim that art is the backbone of human activities. An impressive and extremely interesting cybernetic artwork, called ‘Cloaca #5’, was introduced during a recent artistic protest in Montreal, which was also referred to as the “poop machine” making food-based feces and, if I’m not mistaken, it even wrapped its own production.
In my opinion, that is the artwork that best represents contemporary art and perfectly aligns with Schoffer’s description, and yet, I still remain puzzled in front of such creation. I am among those who believe that art has the uplifting power to take you through noble feelings or sensations from a different angle – art must also claim the best and the worst of what human nature has to offer. Only the magic of art can lead us to feel emotions and sensations that make us reach parts that are both greater and lower than ourselves. Surely, there are other artists, art specialists and lovers with the same view wondering what the role and the place of painting is in the world of Visual Arts; I would love to know their points of view and those who think differently. I wrote this text for professional ethics purposes as I have to admit that my views complicate things, and I am aware that I might be wrong somehow.
Thus, my own perception does not make me a Contemporary Artist – just like many other painters, I live as a paradoxical artist still painting in the 21st century. Although I give the impression of linking painting to folklore, far be it from me to criticize any artists. I chose to paint in a figurative style – ‘sentimental painting’ as Fernand Léger would say; my work simply needs to make sense, despite its humble result. Whether it seems to be folklorist work or no longer aligns with today’s development level, one thing remains the same: drawing, painting or sculpting is and will always give rise to pure happiness, both for the creator of the artwork and the audience. Henry Miller fully understood when he associated the act of painting with the verb “to love” – to me, the act of “loving” still fully accounts for the act of painting, and I believe that painting plays a key role in the social function, no matter how folkloristic it is. I must confess that my position is paradoxical, but today, it is done in all honesty and I embrace it – I prefer to paint. This reasoning needed to be done in order to resolve a paradox that has been haunting me ever since I left the School of Fine Arts several years ago. I started painting again on a permanent basis in the spring of 2008 and I firmly believe that the best is yet to come.
As an artist painter, subjects as well as my traditional & figurative style clearly reveal my influences. Works from Corot, Pissaro and Sisley have always resonated with me and I must say that I particularly admire or am greatly inspired by Canada’s Group of Seven artists (G-7), such as Jackson and Lismer and Tom Thompson’s incredibly amazing magical touch. The arts of drawing and painting have always been vibrant to me, now considered as Rock Art. I don’t know how I can describe this sensation that takes over me whenever I’m in front of artworks, including artist friends, even famous, classical or modern artists – Vermeer, Klee, Gustave Klimt, Max Ernst or even in front of Malevitch’s famous white square on a white background, I’ve always felt like I was among “friends” or “in collegiality” with an instinctive understanding of everyone’s process, whatever that may be. And this I say in all modesty, without a trace of pretension because, as I mentioned earlier, I am no expert in art history nor in arts in general – I am simply in harmony with my world when it comes to drawing and painting. Furthermore, I’ve never felt the need to have anyone explain to me how the intellectual side was linked to the meaning of an artwork; I prefer to hear or read about the artist and scholar art historians. There is no need to explain and evaluate everything. Clearly, any serious artwork is consistent with the intellect, the heart and the technique, but chances are that, when describing his/her work, the artist may claim that he/she simply did his/her best while carrying out his/her work.
For uncontrollable reasons, I kept my artistic side quiet for several years, but it was nevertheless filled with rich life experiences. Needless to say that all these years playing little with charcoals and paintbrushes resulted in becoming slightly rusty, but on the other hand, this time made me step away from some drawing skills that technically restricted me. Today, I feel that being less technically skilled makes me pay more attention to the rendering effect rather than the effect of a skillful technical reproduction of the subject. Indeed, even after some unproductive decades, I now see that, in the light of my work, these years made me evolve, first in accepting the backward state of painting in today’s artistic world and then going along with simplicity (rather naive) in my artistic process. This is not intellectual laziness but rather a pursuit to simple sensations, poetry, tributes that are simply inspired by the beauty of nature revealed by the light – a shareable contemplation.
I feel that grasping my own artistic trait in my artistic approach is merely a matter of time. I can feel pre-existing artworks within me bursting with light, atmosphere and sensations. Who knows where this journey will take me, but it doesn’t really matter because I know where I stand in terms of painting, and I am in perfect harmony with myself.
- September 2008