Bernard Frize

14 May - 26 June 2004
On one side there is your practice of a cerebral painting that conveys ideas and develops complex strategies of networking, sequential logic, permutation and binary arithmetic, and on the other there is your stated desire to stick to a humble form of painting that is very close to the everyday.

Yes, I try to do things that are ordinary, that are everyday, that are very simple and that anyone could do. This is not always evident because painting is something extremely elaborate and sophisticated, something [...] that refers back to a whole history of painting. That may be why I fall back on material things, because I think it's very difficult to say: "There, that's it". There is no equivalence between painting and language, otherwise it would have been verbalised. It's about a whole bundle of things that are conveyed in the actual experience of the painting. A painting is an incredible object: it's flat, facing you, you stand facing it - I mean, it's an incredible moment which catalyses emotions, unusual sensations. Whether one is looking at a monochrome canvas or a Rubens, one is always standing facing it, confronting it, activating one's emotions and one's intelligence. One is always in a dialogue with this object.

Listening to you is also like hearing a researcher speaking through the voice of an artist. Art considered as a tool of research and experimentation, a way of tirelessly revealing new categories of possibilities, without having an identifiable "style", éctriture or "ego", but keeping your distance, never being where you're expected.

Yes, yes, there's certainly a bit of that. But I would prefer to see things as a game. That is to say, to put the pieces on the table and try to combine them, to manipulate them or permute them in order to find new set-ups. Or, rather than a game, I could speak of it as a strategy... in a word, all this connects with this aspect, that is to say, how to be on the right slope, how to stay with the nature of things when working on them, not going against them, but, on the contrary, accompanying them. In principle, I can say that if I am making paintings, then I have to get as close as I can to what the materials and their uses suggest to me. And try to say what they allow me to do. I let things happen or I try to stick as closely as I can to what... I don't know. I buy a brush 40 cm wide; what can I do with this 40 cm brush? Where will this 40 cm brush lead me, and what will it allow me to do, to express about it and about me, about our encounter?

Interview with Bernard Frize by Irmeline Lebeer: "I buy a brush 40 cm wide..." (transl. by Charles Penwarden), in catalogue: A plat, Editions des Musées de la Ville de Paris, 2003, pp. 197-204 (excerpt)