Mimesis (artistic approach)

Μíμησις, 1998, 30 x 90 cm, oil on canvas, sold

Of course, the chameleon was not a random choice: O artist, are you there?

My work concerns μíμησις (mimesis), i.e., imitation, mimicry, miming, representation, reproduction or copying, to cite just a few derivations or translations of the Greek term. The word refers to a μíμoς (mimos), that is, a clown or poor actor. Is oil painting, which is still rather traditional in style, still a valid medium in these times of exponential proliferation of the media? Manual work can hardly compete with the current techniques.

Even photography seems a bit old-fashioned compared with the computer animations used in films. And yet, as Marcel Duchamp observed, any artist creating an oil painting these days necessarily produces a ready-made work since industrially manufactured paint is beyond the artist’s control.

Artists can therefore focus on materiality, make their own pigments, work on different techniques, or highlight the brush strokes, thickness, gloss or matte of a painting, in short, develop its pictoriality. But what about its realism? Of course, I simply like to paint. Unfortunately, however, this is not enough to constitute an artistic practice which is … not too stupid (Duchamp rightly rebelled against the expression, bête comme un peintre (stupid as a painter). Yet, no matter how obsolete, old-fashioned or even untimely it is, oil painting can be used to divert images produced by other media. Painting over a photograph allows one to display the distance between the representation and its object, while the photo itself seems to capture what is real.

However, painting does not escape this diversion of photography or other technologies (computer manipulations, Internet, etc.) unscathed. The idea of painting conscientiously from photographs seems a bit ludicrous in itself, but I like this aspect because it is seriousness that I find truly boring.

As I have already mentioned, painting cannot compete with photography or other current reproduction techniques. That would be the height of absurdity. But a certain amount of technical quality refutes the commonly-held theory that anyone is capable of producing modern art.

Of course, the chameleon was not a random choice: O artist, are you there?

My paintings are never imitations of nature, which has been imitating art for a long time. They emerge from an endless universe of images. Codes, stereotypes of art history or mass culture, geometrical objects, I use them all as materials.

These images, which to my mind are problematic, take on various forms: multiplications, series, duplications, combinations of discordant modes of representation, order and disorder. By playing with the scale, or writing incoherent classifications or words on the painting, a certain tension is produced within the image.

To play means to create playful art that produces delight and pleasure to be shared with the audience, but which is also thought-provoking.

So it is for fun that some more or less discordant elements sometimes coexist in one work. The idea is to produce a crisis within the picture, or to generate critical pictures by introducing displaced elements in the paintings. The critique does not necessarily flow from a modernistic reduction to pure materials or components of the painting, but rather from slightly subversive gestures (a small, red fish contemplates a vanitas at the bottom of the sea).

Each painting is thus a result of iconoclastic controversy. As a worshiper of images, I save the pictures as I enclose the iconoclastic violence within them; and yet this violence does not disappear.

Sometimes I explore the limits of pictorial representation in the strict sense of the term. Painting gives way to writing; writing fades away before near nothingness to suggest death, the unrepresentable. At other times I allude to censorship, which is an integral part of the μíμησις. Other hobbies: ghosts, doubles, and dematerialisations added to a stereotypically realistic approach.

Finally, I occasionally use ready-mades in the strict sense of the term – I take advantage of all available means.

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