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.

The 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 … a witness.

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 nourish me.

The 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 of each.

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?





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