Art fleur de peau...
I am sorry to start this post with a some French, and even worst with a French play on word. But it was inspired by the performance of Phil Hansen, a painter-photographer-artist-philosopher-performer-etc, I came across on YouTube recently. But, let me first close the French chapter before I move back to Phil.
The proper idiom is "à fleur de peau", literally "at the flower of the skin", and means that something is so tense that one feels it closely under or within his skin. Usually it is used to describe a very nervous person who has the nerves at the flower of his/her skin, ready to explode... But by extension, this flourishing expression has also been used to refer to a very passionate relationships, "l'amour à fleur de peau" (love at the flower of the skin). In a sense, we get close to the English idiom: I have you under my skin.
Layers on influence
But back to Phil Hansen now. This guy is obviously passionate about art. From the portfolio featured on his website you can realise that his work gravitates around key figures of modern History who are interpreted in his pictorial style. And at a certain stage, Phil decided to bring his work on the web, and performed an astonishing artwork in front of the camera: he painted his body with 30 different people who influenced his life, each portrait overlapping the previous one.
What really interested me in this approach was that the artistic concept had been thought through, and was not a "simple" performance (a performance which still took 30 hours, forcing Phil to sleep with his inspirers during the composition!).
Every character featured in this piece of art has had an input in the artist personal or professional life. They are proudly worn directly on the skin, as an evidence of the intimacy that the artist wants to reveal. They intrinsically constitute his personality:
Georges Seurat: He was an artist that impacted me early on. His fragmentation of images led me where I am today
Stephen Hawking: He affected my outlook on life. He made me think about what life is and what I should do with it
Mao Yasui: After I spent about three years doing very little art she pushed me to get started again. The first large scale drawing I did was directly because of her. You will see it pretty often leaning against the wall of my studio.
Each influencer represents a layer of what makes Phil Sanders Phil Sanders. This is a nice representation of how our self is actually constructed: it is a a constant building enterprise where each encounter add a brick to constitute a whole, you.
And that led me to wonder who were the key influencers in my short life. Here is a quick list from the top of my mind - and without real order. Nothing complete though (mum, dad, I love you. Marie-Anne too):
- Salvador Dali who illuminated my approach of art with his surrealist double imaging painting style.
- Renee Brenot, a staff member of my former University, who changed my career with a sentence in a corridor.
- Sigmund Freud who reinsured me when I had bad dreams.
- Quentin Tarantino who delighted me with "Pulp Fiction" and encouraged me to stop linear thinking
- Shizuo Koizumi and his anime "Attacker Yu!" (Jeanne & Serge in French) who made me discover volley ball and live magnificent moments with great fellows.
What about you, dear reader? Can you tell me who are the 5 key influencers who would constitute your own epidermis? I am looking forward to reading you...