Arthur Grosbois is a young French painter presenting a solo show ‘Une Chambre en Été’ at the Galerie Monteverita in Paris this summer. His works are fresh, spontaneous, and convey a feeling of the seriousness of the lightness. The paintings remind me of Kusamakura (or Grass Pillow), the novel from Natsume Soseki. Narratively, it has nothing to do, but the style feels similar. Grosbois brings us in a space full of light, where contemplation is a key. Having graduated from the Paris ENSBA in 2018, Grosbois is at the beginning of his career and took the time to answer our questions.
My day always starts in a pretty simple way, doing paperwork or daily chores. Yet it feels that everything is pointing towards the moment when I’m going to start working in the studio. I need a long warm-up and a kind of hide and seek game with my own brain, like if I was trying to trick myself into pretending that no hard work is going to be involved. In those moments, I try to find relevant distractions as triggers/entry points, such as reading books, looking for images on the internet, researching artists that I’m interested in, drawing, etc…
If you were to paint one thing over and over what would it be? I think that in a way, that is already what I am doing. I think that for me painting is an attempt to catch what moves me the most, to capture what makes the most sense and to try and explore what this ‘thing’ that I am looking for actually is. It’s figuring out how I can use this inner material to generate similar emotions as those I experienced in front of an inspiring painting, or when something clicks from a book I’m reading and provides another or deeper understanding on my thinking or intentions. Painting for me is about repeatedly trying over and over again to attain the emotions that I first felt in front of the paintings of old masters that I discovered as a child, something sublime.
Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do on the openings? I have mixed feelings. It is scary because it is very exposing, but at the same time, part of the work is completed when it reaches an audience. I think it’s necessary in the creative process to have this relationship with presenting your work in order to be able to move forward and see your own work in a particular light that you cannot get from what is quite an isolated creation process. On openings, I try to put myself in a very available state of mind to absorb all the impressions and reactions about the works, in order to confront them with my own perception and expectations. It requires a lot of energy and stability but I think that it is a very important part of the process.
What is your favourite place to think about a new painting? I think about new potential works all the time. It is close to an obsessional process, as an anchor point for my mind that I can go back to anytime. But I think that my imagination gets even more stimulated when I can’t have access to my studio, like on holidays. The frustration of not being able to physically try out new ideas initiates an accumulation of energy and momentum that I am then able to use when I am back in the studio.
What is your relation to past painters, and history of art? I don’t have any particular fantasized vision of the figure of the painter, not like I can have with writers, but my main source of inspiration comes from the works they produced which have touched me beyond compare. For me, all the variations, aesthetic attempts and choices are an endless source of inspiration that is luckily readily accessible nowadays and so provide a valuable source to take reference, learn or react on.
Which question would you like to ask your painting Idol?
Why are you painting?
How did you develop this work you’re doing now?
My work is a combination of research on the technical aspect of representation, directly referencing art history (more precisely painting history), and interrogating/exploring my relationship to images. My practice is an attempt to create atmospherical and meditative pieces, with an openness for interpretation.
Technically speaking, my work is the result of a lot of experimentation; mainly looking at techniques used by old masters’, however also utilising modern technical possibilities via computer graphic software. My practice is consciously driven by an attempt to create a bridge between traditional painting and our contemporary relationship to images.
How did you meet your favourite collector?
I don’t have a favourite collector in particular. Anyone having a strong connection to my work would make an ideal collector.
Why do we still paint in 2020?
I have the feeling that painting is a natural form of expression for human beings, maybe as a result of our ability for consciousness. As much as telling stories, writing books, singing, the creation of religions and more generally searching for meaning; I believe that painting is a part of the human identity and I don’t see any reasons for us to stop doing it.
Where is Painting heading?
It is very difficult to say… I think that the internet is generating a « niche » phenomena, so it is pretty difficult to identify main tendencies. In my opinion, painting is trying to digest the hectic chain of ruptures initiated by modern art and trying to figure out how to deal with the freedom it created. In the meantime, it is looking back at painting tradition to be reminded or inspired by its technical and craftsmanship dimension. I think that painting is an art of continuity and synthesis, as it can’t really bring any breakthroughs technically speaking, so I believe that the innovations and questionings for contemporary painting are about the subject, the source material.
Thank you Arthur, and thank you, reader.
All images belong to the Artist.
Born in 1993. Lives and works in Montrouge. Arthur Grosbois’ paintings exist by their simple presence, without context or need for environmental support.
The characters and beings presented seem to have been caught, fixated or frozen in their own movements, creating a feeling of introspection. Recurrent themes within Grosbois’ work indicate tactile research on presence itself and reflections on identity being brought into constant questioning. In effect, his portraits occupy an important space, presented as much as an object of contemplation as a tool to urge viewers to experience their own physicality (i.e. via eye contact).
We find in Arthur Grosbois’ work research into the aura of the individual, that is delineated by the artist in a semi-sculptural manner, as well as an affection for the ambient nature of the finished object. Grosbois combines traditional painting techniques and digital tools to remodel and rework the plenitude of image fragments sourced via the internet. The image choices follow the thematic interests of the artist and provide objectivity, de-contextualizing the subjects portrayed which are then reinterpreted in-line with the artists own relativity.