To paint things like one would bake Christmas cookies or bread; on a wood fire, homemade, on the farm, naturally, by hand, in a dilettante manner. In a traditional and old-fashioned way as anything done with love, hence potentially beautiful and good. With attention and intention for the gesture that counts, in an almost inherent apologetic approach for the possible defects and poverty of the result. The success-failure ratio is the same as when I make bredeles (Alsatian Christmas cookies). Out of 10: 3 are useless, 4 are correct, 3 not so bad, 2 good or very good. They’re meant to be offered. In terms of painting it’s also a bit like that.
Furniture is quite the kind of thing that loves to be painted in front of a fireplace and it is sometimes the case here when the skylight-windows of the workshop are still covered with snow. A decorative activity that can be seen as inoffensive but also vital and free as all things done when we have time (in a folk imagination that another economy still allowed). To celebrate the possibility, the tranquility of doing nothing... by doing something. And painting is not nothing. A paradox that would be a definition of Sunday and holiday artistic activities, art between 8 pm and midnight when the children have been put to bed, the dishes have been washed... the art of tranquility. After the laundry why not ecstasy.
The time to meditate on the beauty of what is, to stroke one’s cat or paint simple flowers on a chair. To turn that hour into a day, and that day into a life. To fill one’s life by covering furniture... not for fear of emptiness but as an overflow of joy. From there on, everything can be painted and taken care of: shutters, cupboards, bedside tables, stools, misery, wobbly things, decay, invalidity, even IKEA as we aren’t snobbish. All remains visible, just below, under the motive, under the flower, the aura of origin without the “additional element” dear to Malevitch, the vibratory waves, history, scars on the wood: the chair is rotten, the old man’s feet are saggy, no cosmetic surgery, but rather scented oils to massage them. Always add a few drops of essential oils to the works to help them breathe. Even with my bifocal glasses I will see remains of scarifications, imperfections; to obtain a perfect result the pieces would have to be made in a high-tech manufactoring workshop for professional artists or at least use laser-cut stencils and experiment the famous loss of aura so well described by Walter Benjamin.
Here the aura will be present or not, works of art will emerge or not (I do not know), according to the status that one will want to grant to painted objects and found volumes which aren’t quite furniture anymore, half-plinths half-tables, almost on the way to access the coveted role of artworks because of a little confusion as to their use... Here as for Schrödinger’s cat, as long as we don’t sit on the chair, it will be both a chair and a work of art.
To massage, paint the shutters, then the doors, the walls, why not the whole house as in an overflow, as Maudie in her shack. The famous love-glasses provide a filter, a Photoshop filter, not a thick and lumpy layer of meaning that would help the world hold in place, it does not need it, it holds... no matter how... rather a thin layer of attention and silence. In this “that” which must be made visi ble, there is no longer questions of representation/ figuration/abstraction (of what!?). Hilma Af Klimt lived from her naturalistic landscapes and hid her non-figurative paintings; painting under influence can make one shy.
Everything is representation, the white monochrome can also be a close-up on the reflective fiber optic hairs of the legs of my kitty and as light at the end of the tunnel, the monochrome is psychedelic too. And motifs and ornaments were not palliatives to the prohibition of creating visual representation but simply the admission of a failure to serve the image of stupefaction? The motif then becomes an invisible frame made visible, the quantum frame, the frame of visions, the tantra frame. Finally, the motif also comes to silence. Everything at its own speed, daisies, maggots, sacred geometry and monochrome finally all come to silence. I can then be quiet, sit on the floor (no need for a chair after all) and continue drawing invisible patterns, this time in space, with my body, fingertips, breath.
Jean Giono “Letter to the peasants on poverty and peace” 1938: “I do not say that you should be joyous; that is an interior affair and no one can do anything about it except yourselves: but the conditions of joy will never belong more completely to you; no social plan will ever put you in better conditions of joy...” I would like to send this letter to all those who paint, cook, educate, heal, dance, walk, sing, write, rebel, meditate.