Magazine feature article

Friday, February 26, 2016

A beautiful and comprehensive feature article has just been published in the French magazine Hérault Juridique and Economique. Of course it’s all in French but they have been very generous with the visuals as well.

Here it is, and for higher resolution below is a link to the PDF.

Art Aerfeldt hérault Juridique 25 FEV 2016

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Being vulnerable in art and life

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I think too much; over-processing and overwhelm.

Supposedly there is a new category invented to describe us – we are ‘highly sensitive people’. I hate names and catgories, so resist belonging to this group. I don’t want to be highly sensitive. I want to be normal. Well, a bit more normal maybe.

As Grayson Perry says, ‘Artists notice things’. This is a far more civilised way of putting it and I can go along with this. My artworks are where stuff I notice gets mashed up, reorganised in a mental spin dryer and regurgitated in a new composite form. Like making felt from wool. Compressed, condensed down. As truthful as I can make it.

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It’s great listening to other artists talk about their work. I’ve been tuning in to some Yale Lectures this week via the blog of the American painter Angela Fraleigh. Included is a lovely long interview with the New York painter Lisa Yuskavage, who is a peer and friend of John Currin. These are all artists that I find intriguing, people who mess with art history and hijack it rather than running away.

Anway, Lisa is pretty out there and chatty, and I love her generous attitude. She talks about being vulnerable without using the actual word – words like crisis and depression are used. I feel with and for her. Been there too. She says, ‘The art needs to reflect me in my lack of glory… I don’t mean to be well behaved. I want communication.’ Well, her art is certainly not well behaved, and she has been cut down for it. Good for her for sticking to her guns and not caving in. She also says, ‘If it looks like something you’ve seen, then why would you make it?’ It just turns into execution. No matter what you do in life you have to put yourself into it to feel whole; not be afraid of rejection; be happy to say ‘This is the stupidest thing I ever made’ and go with it.  ‘You can’t make an object that you are certain that others will like.’ It boils down to the courage to push forward.

Lisa has a fabulous website with high res images – a gift. And below is a video of a recent artist talk accompanying her show at the Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis.

More vulnerability is needed in all aspects of life. Meaning honesty instead of pretending. Meaning being willing to get cut down.  There’s enough phony stuff in life already.

 

 

 

 

Where the inner journey meets the outer journey…

Friday, February 5, 2016


Not much ever pierces your soul like visiting the place where you were born; where you awoke to the first tender years of life. 

I’ve been away for three short yet eternal years, and my eyes moisten as the jet engined monster slowly hovers to land across the flat, summer-brown Adelaide plains. This is totally unexpected. I’ve been living the south-of-France dream now for almost a decade, racing off to Barcelona each month, gorging on European culture, history and prehistory. The flatness of my childhood landscape is the last thing I ever thought I would miss. It cuts into my core without warning. I am home. 

It almost immediately feels like I have never left. The old life is embedded in muscle memory, scent memory, eye and ear memory; primal sensations entombed in the deepest recesses of my being. And yet I am a slight outsider. I have lost the full Aussie twang. I am deeply embarrassed when I get the one and two dollar coins mixed up and the lady at the Hahndorf strawberry stall kindly counts the excess back into my hand. 

Things are not exactly as I remember them. 

Someone has moved the central iconic Victoria Square fountain, previously a bulls-eye marking the middle of the city, to an asymetrical mis-location somewhere off to the side. It isn’t right. I never liked the drab, modernist fountain in the first place, but moving it is another thing. It messes with my head. 

The cafes on Norwood Parade have changed, or at least the names have. There are new car parks that have sprung up and new gaping holes in the ground where who knows what is about to give birth. At least there is a sign outside the Frank Gehry style new mega-hospital. The old familiar electronic discount warehouses in town are gone – what happened to Strathfield? At least you can still rely on Officeworks, and you can sort of rely on Dick Smith but I hear he is no longer a safe bet either. The Alphütte Restaurant is now painted bright white instead of chalet brown and my mother tells me it is closing.The Southern Expressway now actually goes in two directions at the same time. I don’t recognise the blonde TV newsreader with the helmet bob which splays out from her neck like an anime hero. The hair never moves and I am fascinated. 

I go to the bank to recover my forgotten PIN and the teller asks me to ‘Pay Wave’. What? I figure out what is being said after she has repeated herself twice but the meaning is beyond me. My teller then realises that she is dealing with an imbecile and in a clear, slow voice asks me to tap my card on the machine. 

Each day brings new little reality checks, reminding me that I am no longer quite from here any more. 

On top of this, I now pronounce any French or Spanish labels on food, wines, or menus in a way that startles the locals. 

‘Cab Sav’ has left my vocab, it is now Cabernet Sauvignon. I even pronounce café differently, with the practised abrupt ending of the  French accent aigu. No one has a clue what I’m on about. There are communication blips. It is me who has changed.

When I first arrived in France, tentatively proud of my workable language skills, there were a few totally bizarre words that had me stumped. I had no alternative but to ask people to please repeat very slowly, syllable by syllable. Suddenly the light flashed –  what sounded like ‘brerSHING’ was written as ‘brushing’ (a blow dry) and ‘shomPWAN’ was spelled ‘shampooing’, meaning shampoo, and the same for other pseudo-English words adopted into the local vocabulary. ‘Bargh-MUN’ was spelled as and meant ‘barman’. ‘Coo-stom-ease-air’ (written as ‘customizer’) meant to add your own original touches to a bought item (ie to customize it). The French are just as capable as the Aussies of mangling other languages and messing with the meanings

In Australia I feel like Rip Van Winkle, having woken from a mini time warp.

At least I can do a pretty good job of acting like a local and it is such a joy to have people assume that I belong. My accent doesn’t hang over my head like a red flag. In France I am forever ‘English’ the minute I open my mouth, even though the rough edges of my accent have almost been worn into shape. Tiny subtleties are enough to give away one’s origins.

Where is home? I am eternally homeless; a member of a growing breed of restless expats who are lucky enough to be born in one country yet can choose to experience life in another. Not a refugee like my parents were, having to make a go of a new place with no option of returning to a familiar life. I arrive in Europe (their old country) on totally different terms, with a prestigious art study scholarship. I am a wayward homing pigeon looking for a solid place to land. 

France and Spain now do feel like home. There is still excitement and amazement in the wonders of daily life there, and I have forged some new and beautiful friendships. However, as we all eventually learn, nothing replaces dear old friends. It is almost impossible to mimic the depth, breadth and length of shared struggles and celebrations running the course of many years.

Which brings me to the topic of family. Blood is indeed thicker than water. I never really understood where that saying came from, and the symbolism is still a little beyond my mental capabilities, but nonetheless I have finally learned the true value of family. I miss my Aussie family. I dread to use the words ‘age’ and ‘wisdom’ but struggle to find any other excuse for my recent behaviour. There is now also my Barcelona family (on my husband’s side) which I cherish. It gets complicated.

I am only too aware of the luxury of having options of where to live, but you can’t be in two places at once. 

Flitting about also has its price. People never know where you are, so don’t bother to get in touch the way they would if you were always at home. I am happy to have experienced living in three different cultures, speaking three different languages. It makes you more grateful and appreciative of the good in each place, but also more aware of the negatives. You can’t help comparing in some way. In the end I focus on the best of what each has to offer. I now realise that it’s about relationships more than place. Home is where the relationships are.

So the 24 hours of mega-flights, followed by a criss-crossing from Adelaide to Brisbane and then down to Sydney, turns out to have been more of an inner than an outer journey. A mental and emotional working things out. Ideas of place and home. And most of all heart.

 

Time for connecting

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Life as an artist – and the natural introvert that I am – can be like flying solo. 

So for those of us in largely individual pursuits it’s a much needed breath of oxygen to connect with others on similar paths. 

It was a pleasure to be invited as a guest artist at the recent open studio weekend at Pérols – fifteen minutes from Montpellier and nestled on the edge of a salt water lagoon. The studios were set up a couple of years ago by the sculptor/painter Michel Soubeyrand and, being the dynamic action man that he is, he has expanded and invited other artists to join him. 

Most of the artists in the complex have street or pop art leanings.

This aesthetic has become a huge commercial scene in France today. Probably elsewhere too, but anyway, I can only speak for where I am right now. I have more of a fine art focus, so for me it was a weekend of discovery of different aesthetic approaches and ways of operating. Not that the two can’t mix – they do and they are mixing more and more. My brain is processing it all and ideas are churning…

Surreal is my best attempt to describe the location. 

When I drove past for the first time I wasn’t sure if it was an archeological museum showing a Roman settlement (there actually is one a few kilometres away and the area was on the old Roman road from Italy to Spain), a rubbish dump or an industrial complex. The only visible sign of art studios was the two large banners flanking the entrance. In fact the place was (and still is) a demolition/recycling business for old stonework from bourgeoise buildings that have been renovated, demolished or whatever. So if you happen to be looking for a new bassin or grand archway for your chateau renovations, or just feel like adding a little ambience to the back garden, this is the place. The studios are in the middle of it all.

Each of the resident artists invited guest artists to show with them for the weekend. I was invited by the lovely Rosario Heins, a Colombian painter now in France.

The studios are in the big old sheds behind, and have been divided into individual lock-up spaces of varying sizes. here are some inages from the weekend. I met many people – artists, artisans, collectors, journalists, friends of friends…. It’s good to jump out of one’s hole of daily routine.

Michel Soubeyrand’s studio above, and my wall below. I chose to show mainly works on paper.

Just saying…

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why should figurative art be making a comeback? Because Gagosian says so. Actually it never left, but it’s not my job to push trends one way or another. I just keep doing my thing, making my work…

Here is the link to the article in the Huffington Post. As they say, hell has frozen over. Or whatever.

 

Can beauty help heal the ugly?

Friday, November 20, 2015

I wrote this piece a few days ago and have been sitting on it, wondering whether or not to post. Anyway, here it is (I say nervously.) It’s somewhat after the fact. Or maybe not.

‘The beautiful is as useful as the useful, perhaps more so.’ Victor Hugo

Since the attacks in Paris and ongoing ricochet events I have not been able to concentrate. My studio has become a place for sitting in silence instead of making art. Even though I live in the south of France, six hundred kilometres (as the crow flies) or 3.5 TGV hours away from the epicentre, I feel battered, along with the rest of the nation. In fact the personal shock has accumulated rather than subsided.

To begin with I resorted to logic and delved into left brain analysis to cope. I insanely tried to relativize the barbaric events. I ‘liked’ the Facebook posts that criticised the Western press for unfairly ignoring the Beirut terrorist attacks whilst covering similar events in Paris. And I tried to imagine what the Syrian people must be experiencing each day. But, of course, acknowledging that other people are suffering equally, or even more, is useless in diminishing the horrors and disbelief at home.

The media coverage here is relentless and everyone is spooked.  A firecracker goes off and people jump and run for cover. A poorly parked car is taken as a sign of a bomb and a train station is evacuated, email messages are doing the rounds telling people to beware of #WeAreParis phishing scams (supposedly just scare mongering, well so far at least). It doesn’t matter that more people here are killed on the roads or hit by lightning or whatever; it is the sheer evil that has chilled us to the core, the confronting realisation of what humans are capable of that is so devastating. Kids are freaked out, frightened to go to school. Life feels totally bleak, and it seems to have hit everyone. Alpha males included. Short fuses and frayed tempers are the occasional giveaway – yesterday’s parliamentary debacle being an example.

How to move on? Or at least cope. The touching little French kid (whose interview went viral online) reasoned that flowers could not counteract bombs and guns. Not in a physical sense anyway. What else could his dad say? I too wish flowers and candles could make it all better. They express our love and sorrow, and empathy and solidarity, but as for protecting us…

It can sound like a cliché, but evil is only overcome by good, and at some deep level beauty symbolises good. So in that sense the little boy’s father was right. The precious beauty of flowers as strewn offerings, and symbolic candles lighting up the darkness helps give a face to our grief, and reminds us that there is a flicker of hope, no matter how bad it seems.

This is where Victor Hugo makes sense for me. ‘The beautiful is as useful as the useful, perhaps more so.’ In our daily frenetic lives, it is easy to overlook beauty in deference to utility and the mundane (why is the internet so slow? / where’s my phone? / what happened to my keys? etc). It’s obvious that stuff needs to work and we need to live our lives and get our jobs done, but in the process beauty can get kicked to the sidelines, put on the back burner, or stashed in the cupboard. However when the proverbial s**t hits the fan, and we are surrounded by the train wrecks of life, beauty is one of our first ports of call; beauty being art and music and nature – conduits for our intense emotions and need for connection and communion. And for the spiritual among us, a call to a higher power.

It’s probably not the right time, but I can’t help thinking about how what I am doing as an artist fits into the grand scheme of things. Is it of any use? I’ve been learning about marketing in recent months – something that doesn’t come naturally to me. What comes up over and over is that any product or service needs to solve a problem or relieve a pain. 

So how does art do this? I keep trying to put it into words but it is so elusive. I am motivated by a search for meaning. I want to make a difference. Art is about asking questions rather than providing rote answers. As Antony Gormley puts it, ‘Art can touch us and liberate feelings we didn’t know we had.’ To help see and feel things differently. To share a pain. To feel less alone.

I do believe that what artists (both now and over the millennia) have devoted their lives to creating (including my seemingly puny contribution to humanity) does have precious, not just imagined, value. Of course art and beauty are hardly ever mentioned in the same sentence these days. 

May the beautiful and good prevail  – relativism seems to hit the dust in times such as these and we are suddenly more on the same page than we were before. It would be nice if we could keep remembering to overlook the small stuff. Maybe then we wouldn’t waste so much time ripping out pages from each other’s books.

Wishing you all peace and healing. 

A famous art forger is our new ‘neighbour’

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I’ve been debating whether or not to mention this intriguing story but can’t help myself. 

A hugely successful art forger couple have recently settled in the historic centre of Montpellier. He is Wolfgang Beltracchi, and forged masterpieces for over thirty years with the help and collusion of wife. They recently completed prison terms in Germany, and love the south of France so are now making a new life for themselves here.

Making mileage out of people’s mistakes and miseries is not my thing, but seeing the couple are doing their best to create their own publicity in order to drive up the prices of the new (unforged) works I guess I am helping them. Their tale is compelling. It’s a fable about the contemporary art market – how works sold at major auction houses are not properly checked out, how the buyers themselves prefer to conceal the existence of forged works, and how a bit of good marketing and story telling will get you everywhere.

In a nutshell, Wolfgang wasn’t forging existing paintings, but making works in the style of late nineteenth century masters. The main mistake was signing them with Ernst, Dufy, Derain, and Van Dongen instead of as himself. There’s nothing new about his methods, it’s just that Beltracchi, with the help of his wife, were better at both making the art and doing the marketing. A winning combination for any artist, past or contemporary.

They sorted out the provenance of these new paintings by reinventing missing works.

Now missing paintings were described in old catalogues of the dealer Alfred Flechtheim who fled Berlin in 1933 and died in London in 1937. Beltracchi dreamed up replacement works that matched the text descriptions and looked like they were done by the original artist, and his wife Helene came up with the story that she had inherited these works from her grandfather. Voila, the paintings entered circulation via major auction houses.

How did the couple get caught? Because experts found titanium white pigment present in the works, which only became available for artists after 1920. How could Wolfgang be so stupid you may ask, especially as the couple scoured flea markets and bought authentic old canvases and stretchers from the correct period which they scraped back and reused? (The extent of Beltracchi’s research was truly mind blowing, and he emulated every facet of his targeted artists’ methods.) 

Blame the respected paint manufacturer Old Holland. They didn’t mention on their label that their Zinc White contained a small proportion of titanium pigment. My old friend and art materials expert Maureen says that any self respecting art forger should be grinding their own paints. This being said, I have seen photos of Beltracchi doing his own grinding, so maybe it was actually the powdered pigment that he bought from Old Holland…?

Now Wolfgang has a brand new studio at his home in a spacious hotel particulier in town. He is painting flat out for a series of exhibitions throughout Europe, where his new works supposedly sell for between ten thousand and a hundred thousand euros. His shows are sell outs, which they need to be, because he has to pay back all the collectors who lost out by buying his fakes and has a debt of around thirty million to fulfil. He is confident that it will be paid off within two years. Try to do the math… 

Actually I just did the math – thirty million divided by one hundred thousand (taking the most optimistic position) means he has to sell three hundred paintings to come up with thirty million. But then there is the gallery commission of fifty percent (unless he has negotiated a better deal) so that takes the required total to six hundred paintings. One per day. I guess it is actually possible that he could do it. But he has to sell them at one hundred thousand, not ten thousand. 

By the way, I would love to be invited for a studio visit, but first I’ve got to meet them. I guess he’ll be too busy in his studio now to attend local exhibition openings…

 

The lightness of paper / Pocket camera chase

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I often drown in ideas and possibilities. I have far more ideas than time to make the works.

Each large painting I produce takes a whole month to complete, and this excludes the planning and preparation time, which can be quite considerable. This means that I only produce a maximum of twelve major works each year, and it is usually far fewer. OK, it’s a consolation that artists like Lucian Freud would happily spend a couple of years on a work. Recently I have found myself doing the same – putting down and pulling out the same work over a period of three years until it is finally finished.

My brain, however, is constantly presenting me with new images. They turn into scratchings in my sketchbook, but relatively few see the light of day. It’s been something I’ve wanted to reconcile, to find a solution to. My problem is that I just can’t manage to make small paintings that satisfy me. Maybe it’s a lack of fine motor control, but it is more likely an inner need to produce work on a grand scale; using my whole body in large arm movements to create heroic characters and narratives, all literally larger than life. It’s about making contemporary history and mythological paintings.

So I end up with a welling up of excess images, like a clogged digestive system, to put it rather coarsely. Stuff wanting to get out, but no escape valve. 

As a result I have re-taken to drawing. Duh! Why didn’t I think of this sooner? I have bought a roll of heavy paper, and have started cutting it up in large sections and stapled it to my studio wall. My images are beginning to flow – I have years of unpainted images, all queued up ready to go. I can still work big, but it is faster than painting. Drawing take days instead of months like paintings.

Voila, the first drawing is complete. I began with coloured gouache and watercolour pencil washes, then layered willow charcoal on top, added more colour with soft pastels, and then finishing with more charcoal – both willow and compressed.

It was a liberating experience – letting the overflow of ideas escape onto paper. I imagine that several of these drawings will eventually also turn into paintings on canvas. Drawing number two is ready to go.

The camera dilemma I spoke about in my last post has been resolved, predictably after WAY too much research. 

If anyone is hunting for succinct advice on pocket cameras I am currently an expert. If not, don’t bother to read any further as I am sure you will be bored with my camera ravings.

Here is the back story, if you are confused – my three year old Panasonic Lumix broke. My partner tried to fix it. It was then in multiple pieces and even more broken than before. I actually think it was just a loose connection.

Anyway, I was wrong saying that there wasn’t much on the market as people were just using their phones.

There is no such thing as the perfect pocket camera. You need to choose between:

 – a great zoom (30x plus) and ‘average/good’ photos

– or a very limited zoom (3-4x) and ‘excellent’ photos.

If all you want to do is look at your images on a screen and make A4 prints the average quality is perfectly fine. This was what I wanted, so I went for a Panasonic Lumix tz70 which has a 30x zoom. It had the best all-round reviews within its category and was the only pocket camera with RAW. I think our expectations of ‘average’ quality have risen dramatically in recent years as the picture quality is actually far superior than my previous Lumix and the build is much sturdier too. 

(The above photo was taken recently in Barcelona with my Canon DSLR.)

If you prefer excellent quality over zoom capabilities (ie you are happy with 24-80 or 100mm) still in a small package, just go for a Sony RX100. There are currently four versions available, from the earliest to the latest, and four prices accordingly, but the picture quality is great in them all. From what I read they are not for beginners as the many controls and settings can be overwhelming.

The so-called ‘bridge’ cameras are usually no lighter, smaller or cheaper than a standard DSLR camera with a kit lens (and are sometimes more expensive), the main advantage being that you get a massive zoom attached and don’t have to change lenses. 

I was in Collioure last weekend and tested it out, so here are a few of the results. The last one is taken with a huge zoom, and shows detail I couldn’t see with the naked eye.

So I promise that this is it for a while on the topic of photos and cameras and I can fully focus on work in my studio now.

Life versus Art

Saturday, September 26, 2015

There are times when art (or whatever else you are passionate about) gets shoved onto life’s backburner. 

For the past month and a half people in my life have been the centre of my focus – mostly aging relatives and their immediate needs and sudden emergencies. People trump art. That’s the way it is.

It is easy to start feeling frustrated, and I was, but in the end I learned (was forced) to transform my kicking and screaming into patience. Learning life lessons when you least feel like it.

Fingers crossed, my studio awaits. From Monday morning. My pent up energy will hopefully be transformed into productivity petrol.

Camera dramas

Over the summer the little pocket camera that I carry everywhere (I don’t have a smart phone but that’s another story) and which was only three years old decided that its time was up. It had barely reached toddler stage. Don’t you hate it when ‘hi-tech’ electronics just make it past the guarantee period before hitting the dust?

Planned obsolescence has rocketed to a new zenith. When my macbook wifi card stopped working a while ago the ‘genius bar’ adolescent told me that it was ‘vintage’ and there was nothing to be done. (Vintage meaning more than five years old.) He couldn’t believe that I still had the old relic.

So now, do I get a new camera or not? I am fighting it but will eventually have to succumb. I have a nice Canon DSLR which I use to photograph my artworks and take professional quality images, but carrying it everywhere gives me asymmetric shoulders which eventually turns into a back ache and even a migraine. 

I have started researching cameras online and discover that the choices have evolved dramatically over recent years. Seeing ‘everyone’ now has a smartphone, the number of small compact cameras on offer have dwindled away into virtual nothingness. There are a few but they are either super basic – not much better than a phone – or super sophisticated (and super expensive). The market is geared towards ‘Bridge’ cameras, which are reasonably big and heavy and come with super zooms, or the DSLR (which I already own). Funnily enough, whatever choice you make costs about the same amount of money ie a lot more than the small camera I am wanting to replace. For now I am dragging the elephantine Canon around with me and being a martyr. I guess it’s going to be a phone or an or overpriced compact digital. I will let you know how it pans out.

Here are a few pics of summer in the south of France and Barcelona. Visiting friends were the best excuse to interrupt the melodramas and get out and about.

 

‘Slow art’ comes to the rescue

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Life puts on roller skates when summer hits.

Winter is for hibernating by a warm fire or getting work done, but come summer in Europe and it totally flips. It’s the season for visitors and an excuse to get out and about and enjoy food, wine, the beautiful outdoors, and culture in general.

Here in Montpellier there is an enormously popular food, wine and music event held every Friday night over summer. We have an ‘esplanade’ in the centre of town where it all takes place. (In French ‘esplanade’ doesn’t have to be by the seaside, and in this case means a lush tree lined linear park where people go walking.) All generations happily mingle, eat together at the long tables set up outdoors, dance to jazz, rap or tango – your choice – and let their hair down. As the summer weeks progress one festival trails into the next – dance, poetry, classical music, jazz, street art…

Friends arrive and we head out onto the water and swim in the vast blueness of the Med, our waists attached by rope to a lazily meandering boat.

Sounds like the life? Yes and no. In the end I need to escape from social demands. The key sign is when I find myself going into overdrive, talking at what seems like a thousand words a minute. I am drowning in activity, and seriously missing my studio and the solo act of painting.

Serendipity shows up and ‘slow art’ comes to the rescue.

In the centre of town, nestling between masses of greenery, lies a small, old stone building. Just one room. It is called the Espace Bagouet and exhibits Montpellier artists, both past and contemporary. When I wander inside I gasp a vast lungful of calm.

The walls are peppered with small still life paintings, made with the utmost humility. 

Now is battery recharge time and I plug in for the next forty five minutes.

The artist currently on show is Georges Dezeuze (1905-2004). He is from an old Montpellier family known for its many (male) artists, and is the father of better known Daniel Dezeuze. Sadly, there is very little information to be found about Georges online. He studied in Paris, taught at the Montpellier school of art, and died at 99. There are around thirty of his still life paintings in the exhibition.

Here are some of my photos. (I normally remove the frames of the paintings in my photos, but this time I have decided to leave them in. They help show the scale and seem to complete the works.)

The tiniest works painted into thin wood panels are the reluctant stars of the show.

Just 16×22 centimetres (6×9 inches), they remind you of seventeenth century Dutch still lifes with their razor-sharp details, quiet energy and gentle humility. The artist’s son, Daniel, has labelled them ‘sparkling life’ (nature petillante) as opposed to ‘still life’ (which in French is nature morte, meaning ‘dead nature’)

Georges Dezeuze writes:

Les objets pour mes natures mortes, je les ai recueillis au hasard d’une longue vie, dans les caves et les greniers, dans les décombres et même dans les fossés bordant les routes. Ce sont rarement des objets de valeur. Je préfère toujours le verre soufflé d’un lampion à quelque cristal, honneur d’une vitrine précieuse ou prisonnier d’un placard jaloux.

And here is my rough translation:

I collected the objects for my still lifes during the course of a long life – in basements and attics, dumps and on roadsides. They are rarely valuable objects. I always prefer a hand blown glass oil lamp to precious crystal arranged in a glass cabinet designed to inspire envy.

This idea of using humble and everyday objects as subjects for art – taking the ‘invisible’ and making it visible  – is close to my own heart. 

My women with their spray bottles of cleaning products, cooking utensils and so on, borrow from this tradition. Yes, my pictures are big, not small, and there are other elements in play as well, but I just thought I’d mention the link. I prefer depicting everyday stuff instead of top end merchandise. I am sure that part of the reason is because of my childhood experiences – being surrounded with ‘precious’ china cabinets and useless objects that I was forbidden to touch, and the pretentious middle-class upwardly mobile aspirations that went with them. As a result I am now pretty allergic, or at least immune, to pretentiousness.

I wonder if artists mostly gravitate toward one approach or the other – using the mundane as a source of inspiration versus looking toward the world of glamour, slickness and the high life? Of course it must be possible and quite delicious to combine the two. Perhaps this is what I am striving for…

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