During the early 1980’s, when I first devoted myself entirely to artistic creation, it was by interior necessity, rather than rational choice. How can I explain the multitude of sensations that arose, the intense desire to do and to say, the desire to be useful, to give all that I thought I was able to give, within the language of the plastic arts?
While I was studying the use of different materials, I soon discovered the one that corresponded best to me: wood. I had carried the scent of this material ever since my childhood, because my father was a carpenter.
That got the machine going. In only a few years of working with wood I was able to realize my immediate desires: to carve it, to integrate other materials (concrete, plaster, etc.), to attach different elements, create montages, paint, mount canvas or paper… then, progressively, photography came to me, very naturally, as the element I had to wed to wood.
I also rapidly found the need to adjust myself to themes corresponding to my questions concerning life around me. I began by palisades (street boards) expressing the big city, and I presented them during performances or shows in public.
During this period I was socially and politically involved in the defence of artists’ squats. We were fifty or so artists who banded together in order to occupy abandoned factories or garages; once settled, we informed the authorities who allowed us to occupy the space for a given time. It was an experience rich in all kinds of encounters, with artists from everywhere, with galleries, television… It meant meeting Eric Monti, a patron of the arts such as no longer exists: he bought our works and organized exhibitions for us. It was an experience involving endless festivities, a lively exchange of ideas, and, above all, a creativity free of prejudice and limits. But it ended unfortunately, and I set myself apart.
In 1989, my discovery of the Retable d’Issenheim by Grünewald in Colmar came as a shock. I spent sleepless nights wondering how I could realize a contemporary altar piece articulated like Grünewald’s. How could it be financed? I mentioned it to Eric Monti, our patron, who was enthusiastic about the idea. He was the one who permitted my dream to become a reality, by financing and by renting a large space in order to present it with music, texts, lights… Thus, after six months of work, I could exhibit the Retable de Paris under excellent conditions, accompanied by a series of portraits of monks and nuns.
From then on themes succeeded each other; a new unfolding began.
Prostitutes: more than fifty paintings where I tried to depict, without a value judgement, what I consider to be “the world’s oldest trade,” the world’s oldest slavery.
The human condition: solitude, suffering, victimization by a ruthless society.
Racism: I photographed children in my city, those who couldn’t go on vacation, children of Maghreb and African emigrants, in order to reflect the difficult mixture of ethnic groups.
Women: what their place in the artworld and culture? I animated conferences on this theme during two exhibitions in Paris and in Barcelona.
Places: abandoned factories, still filled with the phantoms of workers who had worked there for many years: a canal emptied of its water, revealing all sorts of detritus and residues and car and motorcycle carcases.
Stations: arrivals, departures and meetings; suitcases, tracks; the train as a means of discovering others, but also as departure into exile.
Vertigos: large photo collage portraits, narrating inner vertigo, fear of the future…
My most recent plastic creation –“One word a Painting – One painting a word” – strives to give words their role as a translator of emotions and the feelings that accompany and inhabit us: Nostalgia, Melancolia, Pessimism, Passion, Selfishness, Masochism, Enjoyment, etc.
My most recent exhibition, in 2007 involved this series, in a presentation of my last ten years of work, at the Centre de Culture l’Embarcadère de Monceau les Mines.
Since then, I have been creatively concentrating on: a computer screen. Here I experience an infinity of possibilities opening up before me, that my hands, so mistreated by my previous works, wouldn’t be able to realize otherwise. It took me more than a year to dominate this new tool. To pass from a relatively physical approach to what is practically a mathematical approach was a rather perilous leap. From being a plasticien was I going to become a photographer? In fact, no. I had almost always worked with photos and from now on I compose my works and my photographs using programmed imagery. I merely changed mediums. I organize my work like before. It’s a logical evolution. Wood is still part of my art, I have incorporated in all my photos. Until when?