Loud abstract improvised music in the studio when I’m working, but I don’t listen to it. I see form and movement in terms of stratified rhythm, harmonics and modulations. The dissonance and syncopation drive me forward filling the sound space and shutting out the verbal.

I work alone to be close to the early morning light bouncing off the walls of the studio, the howl of the wind, the elasticity of a sparkle knife, the pain in my back, the unexpected viscosity of a new can of paint, paper grain… to the absolute predominance and "immediacy" of the "moment".

I don't have any predetermined image or form in mind when I work. The beginning is only relevant as a catalyzing pretext, as a first vector in the process, as an act to react to, and is of no use in understanding the piece. In fact, one never understands a piece, one can feel something, be propelled or disgusted, but there is nothing to understand. There is no central concept - there is no mind trip. I am captured by the action of painting, surrounded by its movement and filled with what it as a feeling.

When the painting starts to live forms erupt spontaneously rebounding in a state of hypersensitive confrontation or harmonic reaction - super fast, or very slowly over many days. I track and trace, again and again, each modulation getting closer… and then its gone - careened off ricocheting, vibrating, spitting off debris, bombarding, yelling... a flash in a cloud chamber, of stratified truth, an instantaneous compression of hits and misses.

The object “painting” is a “mapping” of this complex process of acts and reactions. The objective is to layer a dynamic tension that is alive into the materiality of the piece. It has to have the feeling, the drama, and energy from 10m as well as from 10cm. I use black and white paint because they are basic, dense, contrasting… but also transparent on the white surface. In fact it isn't on the surface, it becomes itself a complex of surfaces that change with how far away you are and the lighting. I can't stand what seems to me to be obvious, logical, stereotypic, expected, or cliché in a form. Unexpected things have to happen but there is nothing haphazard, mystical, esoteric, instinctual or idealistic about them. Once we are on our way (the painting and I) I have to go the direction painting wants us to go or it becomes static and boring.

Paintings appear to me as wrong, messed up, deceptions, worthless, unfinished (and unfinishable) for a long time, hanging around nagging at me for attention until somehow they become done. My body often knows when to stop. Paintings are done because the process stops.

I work in different studios because I can't stay still in one place for a long time. It's always a pain in the ass to start up again after a move but the frustration is good for the work.

I bath in influence but it must remain indeterminate, translated, obscure and never transcribed. I’m not conscious of the streets of the East village of NYC, the hills of Chianti or the Stockholm archipelago outside my door, they are a “soup of contamination" to complicated to decipher.

GAIOLE exhibition is a long-term project where I can make sight specific works. But what has been an exceptional has been our collaboration. Augusto Bianciardi, Antonio Carloni, Lorenzo Minucci and I have been working together for over a year. I started doing bigger work for this space; we started making a film; the film changed the work I was filming; we redid interviews over again to figure out what we wanted to say; revisited the space often... - the project changed us all, so maybe the exhibition is the pretext for something else we don’t know yet.
Paris, February 2015

1506-310714, 59°18

This winter Fredrik and Marie Westin proposed I use their un-used basement TV den in Gustavsberg, Sweden as a studio. After warning them that having a painter around, even if a good friend, could be a pain in the ass, as well as a mess, I agreed to try it out and we sort of left it at that. Mid-June I showed up with my tools, we bashed the parquet floors with an old musky boatyard tarp, bought some paint and I set to work. As usual with painting, there were up days and down, periods of frenetic activity and others of catatonic staring. Little by little the walls of the studio filled up, and the work started to leak out into the rest of the house. There was no preconception, I needed a place to work and they were open to living in the middle of it. Its a rare for most people to experience the incredible period of creation, when the work is alive and uncertain, when at any moment I could go too far and end up trashing what seemed fabulous only moments before, when for days a painting would go nowhere dejected on the sidelines only to be resurrected upside down into a new direction. On Fredrik's birthday we had a combination party/opening - their friends and mine, potato salad, italian sausages, cakes, beer and wine - it was a blast! In a speech Fredrik referred to a long discussion we had had a week before about what art did to a living space, and what having an artist around did to family life. In swedish the word for artist is a "kostnär", and the word for confusion is a very close "konstigt" - art can be a welcome mess to normality, living with an artist can be a welcome disruption of routine.
Paris, september 2014


Something is wrong, either the process has backfired and produced self destruction of the species, or this subjugated population governed by hypocritical, aggressive, domineering, devious, cynical leaders is somehow a necessary and desirable step in the commendable progression. If all is well, who are the Fittest?
Once predators, we are now animals of consumption, commercially and politically manipulated, hysterically dependant, and informationalized humanoids. We profess to have evolved from the barbaric behavior of our youth, we uphold absolute values and ethics... We will survive because we are the fittest because we are in the "right". And we will not hesitate to walk over each other if the end merits the means - double standards and all.
On the scale of an evolution of the species, present day political arrogance, self-righteousness, xenophobia, religious and political supremacy, human desolation, absolute boredom, chronic depression, alienation, apathy, lack of dignity, loss of integrity, mutilation... are minor details compared with: the probability we will over populate the planet, kill each other for fuel, water, air, drown in our own garbage. Yet from our minute perspective are these indications of successful evolution or proof of self-destructive folly?
Have the major breakthroughs in making life easier for humanity as a whole: medicine, hygiene, literacy, nutrition... changed the notion of Fittest? Who are the Fittest in our society, what does survival mean, does Survival of the Fittest still mean anything for us? What do love, creativity, understanding, beauty... mean in this context? Will these pursuits help us survive?
Paris, January 2005


This work began with a study of shamanism in general and Inuit masks in particular. I have been very interested in what spirits are for me in my 21st century occidental world. Strange as it seemed, there began to be parallels in the radicalism of some artists and the clairvoyance of some shaman. They had the same sense of social responsibility, of detached independence, the same mission to shake us free from ourselves, from our egocentric illusions, to reveal, to coax, to do battle, to cry out, to rub against the grain, to connect...
My own extreme materialism can only go so far as to see "spirits" as something in us, more fundamental than thought and more general than sub-consciousness? the sum of the inexplicable. I see them as escaping reason and the reasonable, as being very basic, sometimes self destructive, others animalistic...
My medium is a pictogram and ideogram language. Up till now I worked to produce the most essential purest "iconic" representations of an idea. Cosmos of crisis uses the same language with a very different outcome. There is one overall idea, thus each image has no clear meaning, they are complicated, contradictory and messy. Their common blood background is fundamental, mysterious, fluid...
Paris, September 9, 2002


Il est très intéressant de parler de l'ensemble des signes qui ne traduisent pas un langage oral, mais symbolique. Les pictogrammes et idéogrammes sont - par leur ambiguïté et la richesse de leur langage abstrait, symbolique - passionnants. Ce qui m'intéresse beaucoup - et qui dépasse les problèmes de signalétique - est la question du langage générique, du langage archétypique et ce, pour créer du spécifique. Comment construit-on des signes très simples pour dire une diversité de choses ?
C'est la base de mon travail sur les pictogrammes dans Facts of Life - une sorte de philosophie en images symboliques.
Nous avons un drôle de rapport aux signes. On trouve par exemple : le signe des toilettes publiques, (un homme et une femme, souvent séparés par un mur), parfois à côté du signe de l'ascenseur (les mêmes hommes et femmes dans une boîte), c'est un idéogramme - c'est à dire, qu'il faut apprendre son sens. Ce qui devient intéressant est la confusion entre le sens explicite et le sens ultime du signe dans son contexte. Littéralement, il désigne un lieu où l'on stocke des êtres humains, un lieu où l'on s'amuse, où les hommes et femmes sont assimilables à la défécation, qu'ils en sont les symboles ! Il est amusant de constater qu'il s'agit-là d'un usage que l'on ne peut pas traduire en signes ! Alors, on utilise le symbole de l'être humain.
On trouve le symbole pour les toilettes (un homme séparé d'une femme par une ligne verticale) à côté d'un ascenseur (un homme et une femme dans une boîte). Ils ne sont ni l'un ni l'autre des signes compréhensibles en soi. L'image utilisée pour les toilettes est elle même très intéressante. Il s'avère presque impossible d'afficher une représentation visuelle des toilettes. A la place on trouve l'image de l'homme et de la femme. Par cela on peut déduire que les toilettes sont ? humaines ? - nous sommes les toilettes et les toilettes sont nous. Ou que la représentation la plus juste de l'humanité est l'acte d'utilisation des toilettes.
Quand le signe pour toilettes est voisin du signe pour l'ascenseur le sens est plus complexe. Le signe pour l'ascenseur peut vouloir signifier que l'acte d'utilisation des toilettes est un acte élévateur, ou inversement, que monter ou descendre est un acte anal. En tout cas, l'absence de flêche doit signifier des toilettes statiques - non réglables, ou un ascenseur en panne.
L'autre possibilité est que nous n'avons rien compris - l'homme séparé d'une femme par une ligne verticale veut dire amour et que c'est un endroit d'acte sexuel parfois frustré par une séparation symbolique ; les flêches verticales symbolisant une qualité relative...
March 2001


I lay awake nights trying to pull the Facts of Life out of my ceiling. Sometimes they are good and I can build on them, they mean something, they come to life and fly on their own - the others are dead-enders. It's hard to recognize the good ones before wasting time on the duds. Making an almost self-evident image is very difficult.
There is no method, the process isn't rational - I just do it until it either works or I get fed up.
The list of image-resistant ideas is endless. Facts of Life as a language is open ended, unorganized and structureless. It is ambiguous, imprecise and impartial. Each symbol is intentionally created to lack descriptive detail, thus to avoid codifying reality. They are non-linear indivisible wholes to be read from any direction and in any order. There are no prescribed meanings - there are only catalysts to provoke interpretation. In a classroom a 6-year-old kid found that Sisyphus on the move had more power and freedom than Atlas static under his globe.
Facts of Life is not optimistic or pessimistic. It is critical, even brutal at times. There is no invention of an aesthetic - I want Facts of Life to be anti-style, to be non-decoration. If, as images, they are beautiful it is not intentional.
Pictograms are supposed to be self-evident. This is the perversion of comfortable stereotype understanding. They use what is "without a doubt" to produce doubt, the "universal" to talk about specificity, what is simplistic and dead to talk about life, and what is abstract to emancipate the personal "I" from the generalized "man" - falling man is really dancing!
The language is very basic, it is archetypal and just a bit more elaborate then what one might find on signs in any international airport or bus station. And those very signs are in themselves sometimes very confusing. One often finds the symbol for toilet (man separated from woman by a vertical line) next to elevator (man and woman in a box). Neither of these symbols is self evident, thus they are not pictograms but rather ideograms (images that must be learned). The image for toilet is in itself very interesting. It is almost impossible to put the image of a toilet on a sign - it just is not acceptable. In its place one finds a man, or a woman or both. The symbol for toilet is thus person. We are toilets, toilets are we, and the most important thing about the toilet place is that it's for women or men or men and women separated by a wall.
The captions included at the bottom of each page are intentionally vague. Their purpose is to aid people to invent their own interpretations rather then to provide a key to decipher or to explain.
The truth is in you - find it.
October 17, 2001


The subject is the human condition. The Facts of Life is about life, about us and the world we're living in. The language is symbolic. But where pictogram language uses stereotype to produce direct unequivocal meaning in a controlled environment, Facts of Life is perverting the "banal" to destabilize the comfort of generalization, to ask the awkward questions and to propose the awkward answers. The truth emerges from the process of deciphering - from the construction of ones own interpretation, form the appropriation.
June 1999


Real questions about life are inevitably questions about identity, objectivity, virtuality, power, sexuality, control, causality, community, responsibility, plurality, observation, morality, survival... the Facts of Life are as much a philosophical inquiry into the meaning of Fact, as a sociological exploration into that of Life. As a restricted number of common symbols compose a language of ideograms or hieroglyphs. The process of rarifiction is more poetic then mathematical. Statements are constructed from two or more object symbols (man, woman, child, thought, image, word, computer, TV, world...) played against each other by an association symbol (implication, evolution, choice, antagonism, ambiguity and contradiction). Truth emerges from the deciphering process - from the discussion...
November 1998