There are no studies and there are no predetermined
color schemes when I start to paint. But my starting point is never
"nothing". The themes that I am involved with are present
… I try not to confine them to an image. Whatever the subject,
each canvas is a new beginning. I do not yet see the painting. And,
while working, I defer as long as possible the resolution of the
painting … to allow the canvas to take form or, rather, to
give it form without imposing on it an exterior will. To remain
open, to remain receptive, to seize that which emerges.
A good friend once observed, "The hand can seize
what the thought has not yet formed." The difficulty involved
in letting this happen is to maintain "tension" within
oneself as the work evolves, so that emotion can pass most directly
from the hand to the canvas, short-circuiting the intellect. In
this way, the painting appears on the canvas as a whole. To rework
the canvas partially … and, at the same time, keep the painting
as a whole … is rarely possible. Rework breaks the "tension"
and almost always leads to a complete repainting.
In the studio, my most recent canvases lean against
the walls … always visible. It is essential for me to have
time to look at a work after it has been painted. A painting is
really finished only after this time has passed, which can be several
days or several months. If the canvas does not resist the scrutiny
of my gaze, it is reworked. It is as if it starts all over. Even
when parts remain, the canvas becomes another painting.
I work in different formats. The key to working in
a small format or a large format rests in knowing precisely the
limits of the space available. The problems remain the same. Larger
formats are more "difficult" only because the tension
has to be maintained longer. On the other hand, small formats can
easily become too "busy".
In the making of a painting, there are phases through which one
passes … some more easily, some less easily. Preparing the
background is carefree, perhaps because the canvas may ultimately
be covered completely with paint. As the painting begins to take
form, the joy of painting is physical, tactile.
The moment always comes, however, when the paint and the effects
I have obtained with the paint are so seductive that they provoke
the desire to stop. Sometimes, one decides to be seduced for the
pleasure of it. Resisting this seduction generates the fear of
sacrificing the little that has been achieved, when it is necessary
to go beyond what is already recognizable. At this point, the
most difficult task is to continue without fear … there
is nothing to lose. Otherwise, everything really is lost.
Finishing a painting too soon is to let oneself be pulled back
to something known. Being content with what is known and identifiable
can become a formula … a recipe that makes ones' works predictable.
Every painter has his formulas and possible resolutions. The temptation
for the painter to rely on these is as great as his fear of continuing.
suffering of the body
My work of the last four years deals mainly with the suffering
of the body, with loss, and with the torment that this loss causes.
The theme of the "mirror" has been important in this
work. The mirror is the "double" which gives an image
of the state of things. As such, painting is a mirror …
I'm nourished by painting, all types of painting. The needs of
the moment direct my search. Paintings at which I have looked,
but which have remained "exterior" to my needs, suddenly
touch me. It is through an intimate recognition that I finally
discover them. Presently, paintings dealing with the Passion and,
more particularly, the crucifixion and the descent from the cross
density of time
For me, there are strong ties between painting and etching. Because
it is possible to do everything with etching, the danger is to
want to use etching as a way of painting. Although each technique
has its own demands, technique becomes transparent when it is
worked logically. Technique no longer interferes with the hand
or the eye.
As a result of my work in etching, I discovered the emotional
power of black. Pure, flat black … something I had never
used before in painting. Working with the same theme … with
black and white in etching and with color in painting …
is complementary, revealing to me the individuality and richness
Time plays very different roles in painting and etching. With
painting, the hand can quickly seize the instant as a whole …
the hand produces everything. However, etching is a process stretched
out in time. Unlike a painting, the craft involved in etching
… the manual effort, the use of acid … means that
the "instant" is broken down into steps.
Something particular to etching that never ceases to amaze me
is the immensity of space possible with miniature formats. Is
this "immensity" a result of the density of time passed
working on the plate, combined with the action of the acid that
hollows space in such an astonishing way?