This new print collection is made out of paintings from my “yellow” Amorgos summer.
Each comes in 2 formats, limited edition of 10, signed and numbered. Printed with pigment-based inks on archival art paper.
Away from the world’s relentless din, we delve into the tranquility of the underwater realm. The heart beats slower. Body and mind are calm. The light can play with the forms, cascade through the surface and fragment into a mosaic of hues that dance on the skin.
This is a plunge into quiet introspection, where the ocean reminds the depths of our consciousness, where the abstract reflections show the fluid nature of being. A gentle encouragement to float beyond the surface of existence.
I wish you all great and serene end of year celebrations, surrounded by your loved ones.
That’s the first title in that series of large paintings which was prepared for a show at my Montréal gallery. Those are lyrics of the song “Dreamer” by Claire Denamur. The next two tiltles too ;).
Immersion begins with this large square. From the very precise shadows on the skin, to the very abstract swirls on the surface. A perfect way of expressing what I like so much: to produce a realistic first impression and then leave room for imagination. The tapestry of green shadows on the left breast is my favorite part of this piece. What’s yours?
“Can you still feel it on your tongue?”. Acrylic on Belgian linen. 130×130 cm. 51×51 in.
Her name is Joie Kapahi Kaiu. This first name sounds really nice when you are French. She lives in Hawaii. Took up longboarding at the beginning of the lockdown to keep herself busy. Only two years later, this young teenager already has an inimitable style and her moves have the elegance of a dance. This inspired me to do a series of 4 small paintings. 30x40cm.
On the island of Noirmoutier, this is a highlight of the summer. All the most beautiful hulls are there. The islanders of course, but others come from far away for the event. I am delighted to have been invited to create the poster for this 2023 edition.
By chance, the two 8mR (metre Rule) in this image each have an incredible and common story. It’s about a famous female skipper in the 1920s and an Olympic gold medalist. I tell it here Thank you François Martin for the commission and Valerie Lanata for the inspiration.
“Tribord Amure” Acrylic on Belgian linen, 90x90cm.
What is an NFT? Some of us have never heard that name. Many have no idea what it is about. A minority amongst us kind of understand but struggle to see the purpose. A tiny minority is really interested. Everything is normal : this is a revolution in the art world.
It’s a property deed (of a digital image in this case) that is registered and traceable on a blockchain. If you buy one, you own that deed, even if you don’t own the image rights and can’t prevent this image to be copied. Just like when you buy a limited edition print in the physical world.
Interest for the art world and its communities?
NFTs make art accessible for more collectors and its transactions transparent at last for artists. They let artist follow the life of the artwork. If value grows, they can earn a part of it base on a royalties % they set by themselves at first.
Ther is a blooming community of artists and collectors building up as we speak. At first, it was mostly driven by speculative motivations and artistic interest of most pieces was debatable. It’s maturing fast. We see first example of good curation work through galeries, museums and platforms like Objkt.one. Many renowned figurative artists like Tania Rivilis joined the party. That made me feel confident it was time to jump.
Should I participate ?
I’m passionate about both art and innovation. I had to go and explore from inside. This is a quite intriguing world I have to confess. Every step is new. You don’t get it all but you go ahead. That’s what happen when you have a first time at something, right? I took 6 months to listend to specialists and artists I respect before creating my genesis collection. I wanted a blockchain that would be accessible and energy-efficient block chain. I went to tezos and joined Objkt, the largest art platform there. All that was left for me to do was to choose how to approach it from an artwork standpoint.
What should I create ?
As I come from the ‘physical” art world, I thought about a way that could tick the following 3 criteria
The piece doesn’t exist in the physical world
It is a true reflection of my art
It is not artificially augmented, just for the sake of looking like an NFT
Before art is abandoned
The moment when you decide to stop is a key decision in the making of an artwork. “Art is never finished, only abandoned” said Leonardo Da Vinci. Thta’ sbecause indeed, there is always this temptation of continuing further the creation process. Either because you’re curious to explore the potential improvements. Or just to prove yourself (or your audience) that you are technically capable of going further.
Not surprisingly, that happens each time I do a painting. There are at least 5 stages where I stop and take a break because I’m not sure if it will get better further. Can I make it more interesting? Could it loose it creative strength? When that happens, I leave the canvas in a croenr of my studio until the day I decide to put it on the easel again… or to sign it.
I thought I could make an NFT of those 5 stages. None of them is available in the physical world. It’s the core of my creative work. And I’m proud enough of each of them as I was almost decided to sign them.
« Take five »
Beyond the connection with the 5 stages, the collection name comes from 2 inspirations. “Take five” means “take a 5 minutes break”. As before you decide to stop or go. It’s also the title of an iconic jazz song, which happens to be distinctive because of its unorthodox quintuple time.
This music track based on this super innovative rythm became a jazz standard. May be the fate of the NFTs in the art world?
How do ideas come? An intriguing topic for many art lovers, and sometimes a blocker for artists. Picasso used to say inspiration actually finds you, provided you are busy working. So true!
A bit like luck, inspiration favors prepared minds. Fine, but how can you be prepared? May be with an always on curiosity, the accumulation of rough ideas that sometimes need time to mature, and by meeting people who get you out of your comfort zone.
How did “L’Orangerie” come?
It’s the combination of many triggers. I had the idea of this image in mind for a long time, materialized by a small painted study. I like buns, and I think there is something very feminine and elegant in this gesture. A week before starting this painting, a visit to the Sam Szafran show at the musée de l’Orangerie was a revelation. His late obsession with philodendrons fascinated me. Finally, a week working with Mike Carson last fall had taught me a form of freedom in composition, and techniques that can make it interesting. All of these elements led to this project. Last but not least, it started at a time when I had been working at a steady pace for a while. It found me working.
It’s a painting I’m proud. I don’t say this often but I feel like it’s a bit of a milestone for me. I’ve managed to keep myself from going too far a few times. Painting philodendrons, not really in a pattern, but without perspective logic. Not touching up the first draft except for the skin. Leaving the pool without blue water, not even the reflections (toughest temptation). Glazing the bottom of the painting with some red.
Can’t wait to see how the public will respond to it in my next Paris show (April).
Why some images keep on coming back in the inspiration flow of an artist?
Most of the time, we create brand new images. And sometimes, there is one of those we love so much that we need to come back to. Work on it again, approach it with a more mature eye, and observe the change versus the last version of it we created some years ago. From a palette, composition and technique standpoint.
Just get in the water for a few minutes: your body relaxes, your heart slows down and your stress melts away. Scientists call this the “master switch of life” or “immersion reflex. An ultimate defense against asphyxiation that automatically kicks in as soon as our body is immersed. A phenomenon that affects the brain, the lungs and the heart, allowing us to withstand the pressure of the water and the lack of oxygen. An equivalent pressure on Earth would kill us, but not in the ocean. The moment your face comes into contact with the water, the metamorphosis begins. The blood in your hands and feet will rise, your heart rate will drop by 25% from normal, and your mind will enter a meditative state. If you choose to dive, this transformation will be even more profound.
Flying below the surface Staying on the surface and doing the plank is great. Swimming just below the surface facing the sun is wonderful. Have you ever tried it? I used to play this every day with the kids when we lived in Sitges right on the water. It’s an incredible feeling. In addition to all the effects mentioned above, it adds the fabulous light show. You feel like you’re flying in the clouds. Magical. I had these memories in mind while painting this canvas. The completely relaxed position of the arms, the hair that seems to spread like a cloud of ink, and the light that appears on the surface.
We are children of the ocean We feel so comfortable there, probably because that’s where we come from. Each of us begins life floating in an amniotic fluid that is 99% chemically similar to sea water. This is why a child placed underwater will naturally do the breaststroke and can hold its breath for about 40 seconds, longer than many adults. We lose this ability as we learn to walk. Ancient cultures knew all about these reflexes and used them to catch pearls, coral or fish. Today the apnea record is over 12 minutes. At this rate, the record could soon reach 15 minutes.
The more you create, the more creative ideas you store up. I’ve had this reference image in my head for years.
I like the contrast between the dark depths and the bright ceiling. The complex structure of this ceiling, agitated by a breezy day in Amorgos. I like the framing, with the silhouette popping up from an angle. And I really like the posture too. The left shoulder that opens up, the right hand that comes down to balance with a laid back attitude. And the light of course that makes the yellow pop in the middle of the blue.
I gave it a first try with a small size canvas. Rather satisfying. It flew away to a collector in California. I came back to it with my last series of small works “Underwater vibes”. A second attempt to simplify as much as possible this complex image. This acrylic on paper is in Paris.
And I ended up taking out a large canvas and painting that image on the space it deserved. It’s naturally a very different process. And therefore interesting. I hesitated for a long time to stop at the step below that I really liked. Didn’t succeed…
The kind of week you don’t forget. I came back with a bag full of friendships, memories and lessons… about composition freedom, colors, visual emphasis, lost edges. Mike paints like a musician (which he is). He holds the brush like a jazz drummer. So much in balance that the brush hair almost doesn’t touch the board. Just like the stick does’t seem to touch the cymbal. But it just did actually, you could hear it. And there you can see it.
Mike is one of those rare guys who can be both extremely talented and generous. May be because he enjoys the making as much as the sharing. The image as much as the connection?
We had the same 3 courses menu everyday: Three hours demo in the morning, all of us around the master, in continuous conversation. Then three hours of practice in the afternoon, with surgical coaching just when needed (You’re stuck – Here he comes – You’re not stuck anymore – You’ve learnt something). Then endless hours around the brasero with this colorful gang of artists (10 different cultures), redesigning the world and sharing our studio playlists.