Etienne Gros, 59 years old, born in the Vosges in the East of France. At the age of 19, I left my mountains for the capital to study at the "Beaux-Arts de Paris". I don't have any animals but I sometimes share my studio with a spider that I let weave its web. I like this thought of Auguste Rodin: "I have always tried to render inner feelings through the mobility of muscles. "This correspond well to my painting.
PIECE WITH ARTIST
MARCH 02, 2021. VOSGES. FRANCE.
Tell us your story, how did you come to painting?
Born into a family of ten children, my mother has always awakened us in the culture despite the financial difficulties. She ordered each month encyclopedias, including Time Life, about the artists' life. I was curious about culture and art. Many artists, including Michelangelo and Courbet, inspired my passion for the Painting and the Art. When I was a child, I drew as soon as I could, it was a passion which came to me without having sought it. Often at school I made portraits of my teachers. Then after my schooling, I chose to enter in the Beaux-Arts school as the only possible way to get there.
How would you define your current painting?
My main thematic is the "Body". It is an obsessive subject. My painting is more and more sculptural, with a representation of the body or body parts in focus. There is a fragile balance between the abstract and the figurative and also an important part of improvisation and chance. This allows me to paint in always various directions. This is more exciting!
Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told?
I don't think about my style, and if it becomes more and more personal it is in spite of myself and only through work and an obsessive impulse of a result that advances day by day. I often work by covering the canvas on the ground with color and materials. Then I let it rest and put it on the wall of my studio. I look at it and see what can appear or disappear from this colored material. And I draw, scratch like a tanner to smooth the material, I erase or I specify my line to find a composition, an arm or a shoulder appears, then everything follows in a kind of jubilant excitement. But everything is fragile and may not please me, so I start again. There are disappointments and small miracles too.
How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation?
I always do the preparation myself, like a craftsman, I stretch the linen canvas on the frame, it has to be very tensioned, then I glue on the surface a thin sheet of paper like a first skin to erase the weave of the canvas. Then on the floor of the studio, I start a new work step. I prepare a choice of color and I cover the canvas instinctively, I make the paint flow, I make prints to obtain forms and matter, I make the painting live in all that it can offer me. This saves me the anxiety of the white canvas.
There is an infinity of possibilities and a lot of hasard, but for this to be successful I must obtain a beautiful abstract balance of form and matter, otherwise I start again. The next step will be to put order in this abstract and colorful cosmology. Without sketches or preparatory drawings I start composing and I draw, I sketch the shadows and I balance the light and I sculpt the forms.
What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you?
Like other artists, my eyes and hands are my main tools. Everything I see motivates me, in the street or in the nature, like old walls, the colors of the flowers and the sky, and especially the razor-sharp light of the evening or the morning that brings out all the materials and colors, but also the trees and the sculptures in the parks, everything that reveals strength and power. I also like to touch materials. And of course to see Works of Art in museums, galleries. All this motivates me in my work, and love too...
My Arts influences are diverse and multiple: antique sculpture but also Michelangelo, Bernini, Delacroix, Courbet, Bonnard, Picasso and many others as well as some contemporary artists but not all.
What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it?
I started when I was a student to paint on a wall in my living room with a curtain to hide this space soiled by the paint. I had several workshops then more or less large including a factory with incredible spaces. The important thing is that it gives off a beautiful energy. For 3 years I had a new workshop built for me, which I was able to plan with beautiful lighting and beautiful volumes in a quiet place with a small garden. It's magical! I have everything I need to paint in good condition.
What is art for you?
Art is an essential resource that has allowed me to live in harmony with myself and with the world.