SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SEER

 

I feel connected to what could be called a prime life force. I call this force the energy which moves all things in the universe: it is what makes the caterpillar turn into a butterfly, the flower break through concrete and reach for the sun. To me, this force towards life (Nietzsche’s “will to power”) is what is constant in the universe. Life takes on an infinity of forms, which all get born, grow, decay and die. But life itself remains. My sensitivity allows me to feel signals from this life force, and to feel them very strongly. Like a seismograph, my body registers vibrations.

Solitude, contemplation, and interaction with the natural world are my paths to this life force. By the natural world, I mean all wild things: forests, animals, the weather, geology, sexuality… They are all expressions of a raw, extremely strong energy which knows no rule but itself.

My body is a kind of sieve through which all impermanent things in life, everything that belongs to a time or a place, wash off like sand; and which only holds nuggets of raw life, in whatever form they come to me. But however sublime, these experiences must also come out of me once they’ve entered, at the risk otherwise of consuming me from within. This is what my art is: the expression of these experiences, whether they are unique and acute (most of my narrative work), or permanent and overwhelming (my non-narrative work). This is why art is a physical necessity for me, an imperative to keep a balance within myself. Life comes in (raw) and it comes out (bearing my mark), obeying itself.

L'alambic (2013)

Because I cannot turn off my senses and the only nourishment my body will accept is experiences tapping into the raw force of life, it is of prime importance that I tailor my existence so as to maximize the occurrences of such experiences, i.e. I must lead a life where the particular contingencies of the place and the times have as little influence as possible.

I live on a little island, in the forest. Falling asleep to the frogs singing, being one with the forest and the island, brings me the connection and the balance with the force of life that I need. There, the turmoils of the world are not, and life exists in an unrestrained, eternal manner. When I am not on the island, I am in the printmaking studio transforming my experiences into prints.

I understand now that my sensitivity makes me exist at a cosmic level. For many years I felt as though there were two individuals living inside my body: an intellectual one, with an ogre’s appetite for knowledge and wisdom, always being the only art student looking forward to the next dissertation to write; and a practical one, unable to live without a physical interaction with the world, loving nothing more but to forge silver, knead bread or harvest potatoes. This dualism was the source of a great existential discomfort for me. It took the help of – to name but a few – Epicurus, Henry David Thoreau, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Onfray to get me to understand that I was a coherent, solid unit, and that all these appetites which could at first appear to be conflicting were the expression of a single, rich and deep connection with the cosmos.

At Dawn (2015)

 

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