Art – the earliest form of communication, a medium that, in the words of Pablo Picasso, “washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
What makes it such a global fascination, ever-developing, ever-changing? It’s an integral part of human experience, giving people a voice and a belief with no restrictions of age, sex and race – a true opportunity for people to express themselves at any level.
This does not mean that everything is good in art. As Oscar Wilde once said: “Bad art is a great deal worse than no art at all.” Yet it is the understanding of the freedom it gives, which allows us to create something real, something we can touch. (Well, OK, most art is not to be touched, but that is because we want to preserve it as much as we would like to destroy it.) We see things and create objects which we can learn from – in a way it is always a question we ask ourselves. We use art as a form to either find the answer, or to put the question out there to see if others share our ideas and feelings.
We have to remember that we all begin from the same point – the point of creation.
It is our life, so the will to learn and ask questions is within us from the very first breath. From that point, society defines how we speak – verbally. But art is an unspoken language understood by everyone.
My project on artist's studio is a proteiform answer to this question. There isn't an answer, just a process to capture the inner emotional obsessions and amazements.
Each artist develops a personal industry and environment to approach the subject. Artists work with emotions, perceptions, and the intertwined relationships and metamorphoses between them. The subject isn't something new, modern, social, economic, or even moral or historic, and that is why it is so authentic and strong. Art is not a logical syntax; it's a particular connection to the world, which uses different media to discuss and share sensitivity and intuition.
With this project, I choose to use the city art network to meet artists. That doesn't mean that art occurs mainly in urban settings. This was only an easier way of finding the numerous artists I needed for this project. And where they work, of course.
Among many definitions of artist, I choose to approach this issue through the time they spend on their work. What makes you an artist is mainly your product, the time you spend on your subject through the medium you use. Given that I didn't want to deal only with an official or visible definition of an artist – the ones who sell well, give interviews to the media, or are a good foil for curators.
Then, it was an obvious question to ask where they spend this time. The studio was a good frame to show how they proceed with variety and singularity to create. Sometimes it's a meditative white sanctuary; sometimes a world full of materials, objects, in direct relation with their medium – clay, paints, brush, fabrics, or just a working desk for reflections on experimental ideas. Even if they don't all have a specific medium – some are performers or conceptual artists – they all work somewhere, and like to have a familiar space to do so. Perhaps a certain stability in their moving self-universe.
What do we define as a studio? It is a space full of ideas, creations and dreams. What we see is the personalities of the artists, the nuances, which doesn’t just emanate from their work but is greatly influenced by their unique surroundings.
The mystery of an unseen space of creation and individual delicacies that show these studios as art works in themselves.
For example, Mark Rothko, whose images posed questions of the human aesthetic experiences through exploration of color relationships, meditated on a hulk of a canvas in an environment rather like a garage. Pablo Picasso liked to paint shirtless in his palatial studio on the French Riviera, while David Hockney often liked taking his work outside. His spacious, neat studio is a complete contrast to his friend Lucian Freud’s work space that looks more like an abandoned squat, where paint, easels and brushes have a life of their own.
You would always find an example of an artist without a studio. And in a way, nowadays, it is easier to work outside with only a computer and headphones if your medium allows it. Some people need noise, disturbances or accidents to create. That's part of their process. But if new media allows one to work in a public space, there is still need a specific experimental and physical environment to feel and be able to converse with the subject. It's not only security or technological tools that you find in a studio. It could be an extension of the artist’s brain – where you classify your ideas, experiments or questions – or a kind of sensorial isolation or a mood chamber to put you on a certain mental vibration.
My project doesn't deal only with studios, but more generally with the relationship artists have with the space where they create. The studio is a concentrate of this exclusive relationship, as well as of the singular artists' personalities. Sometimes it's a quiet environment; sometimes it is a specific light to be able to focus on colors; and sometimes it's an heteroclite mass of objects, things without a visible link, or even their living room, somewhere to perform private rituals before starting work. I tried to show this extraordinary variety through my pictures.
My task as the viewer is to celebrate the artist and add character to the work and bring out a sense of idiosyncrasy of the artist. I like the idea of entering an intimacy. I am a photographer after all – with a hint of voyeurism. My eye is curious and accurate but it also feels, observes, and asks. Aesthetical compositions only serve a deep thirst for learning about creative process, identity and difference. There isn't one magic recipe, everything is moving for every artist — possibilities are infinite.
Artists question their own "human being." As an artist myself, I want to be a witness of this extraordinary diversity, this powerful strength to discover a universal matter.
I have a studio, but my favorite studio is a moment I try to create when I exchange with other artists.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.