Interview by Evelyne Rogue
Evelyne Rogue is doctor in aesthetic, critic and professor at la Sorbonne
this interview has been published in April 2004 on www.artcogitans.com
Évelyne Rogue : Looking for the first time at your work "The Navajo sorcerer" I could not help thinking of K. Schwiter's work, particularly "Das Sternenbild" (1920), and also "Mz26, 41 okola" (1926).
Is there an influence of this artist on your work ? Could you tell me which artists have marked your artistic practice an perhaps still influence it today, I think to M. Chevallier for instance.
Thomas Bijon : I do not wish a tabula rasa. My work is in the continuity of modern painting history : I experiment new creation tools and this experimentation is fed, consciously or not, with the influence of modern and postmodern painters.
Of course, I know Schwitter's work and Braque's and Picasso's collages touched me particularly, but if my research led me to the way of collage the reason is less cultural than technical. Actually, at the origin of my processes is the statement that art history is ponctuated with periods of rebirth due to the discovery of new techniques (pigments, optical lens, synthetic material…). Belonging to a time where death of painting is always predicted, I have thought that its rebirth would certainly come from the new possibilities offered image manipulation technologies. Among those, one appeared to me as fundamental : the amazing ability to cut, copy and paste. Therefore, if my works present an obvious relationship with the modern collages, it is more of the chosen tool than a cultural influenced aesthetic choice.
However, I am a true "sponge of painting" : I absorb everything I see and my work is highly influenced with it, in my technical, aesthetic or conceptual researches.
Regarding technical choices, the most undeniable influence is that of Warhol – even if I am in a total opposition with him on the conceptual point of view . In 1994, as I was studying electronic and more particularly the algorithms of image processing, I was brought to consider the relationship between those algorithms and Warhol technical painting practices. Therefore I thought about using computer in my painting practices, this use becoming quickly exclusive as following these first experience I left paintbrushes and color tubes to work only with the mouse and the cathodic tube.
On an aesthetic point of view, according to a Kantian meaning, Mirò, Matisse, Picasso, Soulage and Rothko gave me the liking for color; Carl Casper Freidrich and Tangy the liking of mystery, Dubuffet, Hains and Pollock the liking of texture.
I feel close to Beacon when he explains that work on canvas is the start of building every work instead of its achievement : " I Start the same way as an abstract painter – though I do not like abstract at all – that is to say I start making stains, marks and if, suddenly, a stain is suggesting me something, then I can start to build the appearance of the subject I would like to seize (Bacon-Clair, Eschapasse, Machus, p. 4). The true spiritual dimension of Klein or Tapiès works exercises also a high influence on my research which is inspired by a shamanism vision of the universe.
At last, to sum up my conceptual influences, I would take over this comment about the work of Villeglé and Hains : " this art of decollage is an invitation to leave the field of state contrôle and conventional facts, of conditioning propaganda and advertising, for the one of poetry, dream and imagination" (D. Widemann in l'Humanité 04/20/99).
Of course, my influence are not all cultural, and some contemporary artists, by there search or attitude, throw light on the context in which I work. I think of Peter Beard who, by painting on his pictures, lays the foundation of mixing painting and photo and thus suggest an answer to the question raised by Walter Benjamin about the replicability of works. I will alos quote Gerard Richter for the remarkable lesson of freedom he gives when he demonstrates it is possible for a contemporary painter to conduct his pictural search in many direction, and also Andy Goldworthy for whom time is a full component of the work.
But the living artist whose influence is the more obvious is Miguel Chevalier. When I started to explore numeric tools of image treatment, I asked myself what would be the public reception to this quite new formalism at the crossing of painting and photography and quite unclassifiable at this time. In fact, at the 95 FIAC, I discovered among modern paintings and classical photos, the Miguel Chevalier's 0 and 1 series. This series is made of works printed on soft photo paper and presents a work on numeric texture, pixel and screen defintion. I could then notice that numeric formalism was liable to meet with a favourable reception of the public and that Miguel Chevalier's work was going to create a new classification where I could include my own search. This comparison with M. Chevalier's work encouraged me to persist on the way I intended to follow.