“An artist paints so that he will have something to look at; at times he must write so that he will also have something to read".

This well known statement from Barnett Newman, when quoted in the US is sometimes truncated down to the first part of his declaration. This may have perhaps to do with the American art world, which has generally a tendency to see intellectual artists with suspicion. The quote in its entirety is nevertheless at once masterful and simple. It sums up the dual question of the painter's relationship to his work and the expression of his reflection upon his painting. It spells out clearly the process: painting first and then writing if necessary. It is a crucial nuance I have always kept in mind.

To talk about "abstract" painting in 2015, does not have the same meaning as in the late 70's, when I started to work. The context was that of the post Support / Surface and Peinture / Peinture movements. Abstract painting still had a dominant place in the French artistic scene. But it was already declining into academism under the inflationist theorizing going on among many painters who ended up loosing sight of painting itself.

In light of this I relocated to New York in late 79. The art scene was over there, totally different from the monolithic Parisian one. For starters it was much bigger but above all heterogeneous: even though "abstract" painting was not in the forefront, it still existed in the margins.

The early 80's witnessed the Neo-Expressionism emergence and that of the Neo-Conceptualism. This loose movement to which were also associated the "Neo Geo" painters, was based on strategies of appropriation and simulation of modernist representations.

My settling in New York gave me the freedom to think my work differently and in a more open way. The direct experience of the historical American Painting, going from Abstract Expressionism up to Minimalism, contributed to my reflection along with ironically the discovery of Marcel Duchamp. It may come across as an oxymoron for a painter to be interested in an artist who is usually perceived as the archetypal symbol of the "death of painting". The Duchamp that held my attention was not the inventor of the Ready Made but the creator of the "Large Glass" and of "Given “. This two major seminal works had to do with the "tableau" as conceptual object, the pictorial field and the desire of looking. All these issues had a resonance to some extend in my own reflection.


I'll rather use the term "tableau" instead of "painting" to define my work.

The "tableau" is by definition part of a painting history say from the renaissance until nowadays.

It is at once object and surface. It is the context for painting and the pictorial space to take place.

My work conceptually hinges on the staging of the tableau's duality and the expression of its spatial complexity. I am thriving to produce a multidimensional space, at once complex and clear which resists the eye and raises perceptual issues.

I would rather use the concept of "deepening painting" instead of "expanding painting" to define my work. It implies for me, the idea of working in-depth within the physical limits of the object itself. 


For decades, I have forsaken the use of canvas. I use instead, a transparent polyester screening mounted onto stretchers. I then work out a composition using original geometric shapes, non- issued from basic figures such as square, circle, etc. To the contrary these shapes have evolved organically over the years and constitute my personal vocabulary. The overall composition produces a sort of cutout pictorial plane generating positive and negative spaces.

The compositions vary according to the paintings size and scale along with their horizontal or vertical orientation.

I work for instance, since 2010 on a series of pieces titled "Composite Series" which is to some extent the DNA of my work. They are small paintings with stacked composition. I work also on other series including the "Full Frontals" which are large vertical paintings with an open and hinged composition.


I start by selecting the polyester screening which has a pre-existing color that remains visible to various degrees in the completed piece. This referential ground color interacts with the painted surfaces. The screening color I use since 2002 is difficult to qualify. When looking at it straight on, one perceives it as a grisaille background, a kind of non-color. It reveals its true color only indirectly, similarly to that of an anamorphosis, when the viewer looks at the painting from a raked angle.

It is relevant here to make a biographical aside and mention an event that has had a singular impact on the development of my work. In the years before 9/11, I worked with screening materials that had "Matisse" like saturated colors. I also used a high-keyed palette to paint the composition / images on these backgrounds. I had reached a critical point where the use of this color saturation came into questioning along with the use of the single patterned motif I had been painting with since the 90's.

My close experience of the 9/11 events crystallized this underlying questioning and precipitated the necessary break to refocus my work: this meant a desire of sobriety in selecting the screening color along with a dialed-down palette. I also jettisoned the pattern motif and replaced it by a unique image / composition for each painting. I still work today on this new basis that eschews decorative connotations and gives the works a singular visual presence.

In order to hold on to a chromatic complexity, I began to develop very subtle colored gray mixes for the forms to be painted on the pre-colored screen that in turn, interacts with them. This generates an unstable colored field changing with the ambient light.

“One does not become a painter, until one has painted a gray color….” Paul Cezanne

“Gray is the most colored of colors…” Josef Albers.

The color gray has a singular status: it is somewhat indefinable. It has in the everyday language, mostly negative connotations like "gray weather" "looking gray"…etc.

Contrary to Isaac Newton, Goethe elevated it to a royal status and saw in it the origin of all colors.

When one blends de facto all the colors on a palette, one obtains a grayish mud, a gray matter to work with.

I produce colored gray mixtures with generally two complementary colors, such as a green-red basis, which then incorporates other colors or even recycles leftover color blends. These can be either lightened or darkened to suit each painting requirements.

Through the use of the gray color and its variations, I am looking to imbue my work with a muted radiance, a sort of psychological aura. This color with its silence and its retention absorbs the distance between the painting and the viewer to induce contemplation.


The digital era of hyper-speed and instantaneity is changing our lives and our relationship to reality. In light of this, defining oneself as a painter today can appear to the skeptics, somewhat anachronistic and futile. Thinking that painting remains relevant requires perhaps a certain naiveté and furthermore a healthy dose of optimism as to its future.

Painting's history is millennia old and abstraction is only a bit over a century old. It is still in its infancy.

Painting has an amazing absorption power. The emergence of photography about 150 years ago, could have announced its decline at that time. But to the contrary, the painters quickly used it as inspiration or as a working method, "photography is paintings servant", said Baudelaire.

Furthermore it also opened the way to abstraction.

Today numerous painters are using digital technologies as tools or as steps in their work

The death of painting is a seasonal affair: one tries to do it in regularly, sometimes with the complicity of the painters themselves. There is a “death of painting” cottage industry. But it always survives and seems each time to come back with a vengeance. It is thick-skinned!

Painting's temporal space is by essence radically different from that of the digital media. It has a unique relationship to time: it is slow and requires time to do it and to reveal itself to the painter. That's perhaps what defines the painting act and painting’s experience itself. Painting also requires time to look at it and summons up our attention span. It is a unique antidote to the omnipresence of the split second culture in which we are immersed. Painting remains thereby an adequate instrument for reflection and expression today.

An era of artistic license has been opened with Post-modernism: all the taboos have been broken and one can do "everything and anything" in the positive and negative sense. Furthermore this is heightened and compounded by globalization and the explosion of the art market.

All this brings to light in my opinion, new challenges for the painters and painting at large. Since the end of modernism, painting is a sort of subculture. It matters for painters to think their work through in order to face up to the risk of its possible trivialization.

The solutions are perhaps of aesthetic and ethical nature. The need to take risks in one's work, the importance to think the question of style and its development, the issue of artistic integrity versus opportunism, the importance for the painter to coincide with his work and finally giving back a place to the role of contemplation. These are as many possible answers to assure painting a bright future.


Berlin, September 2015.