In making paintings, I am aware that I pay homage to others through study or attention. The affects of history, whether first hand or through text and reproduction, colours my conscious and subconscious awareness. The issue for me is how to subdue that authority and bring lessons learnt in line with my own instinct.

Nietzsche claimed that ‘where everything is permitted, nothing is worth doing’. Stylistic heterogeneity of contemporary art probably supports his Nihilistic view. However, in presenting a private, painterly universe, mine is a desire for a glimpse of meaning through effort and exploration in a multitude of stylistic approaches. I resist aesthetic categorisation or ideological ties to specific modes, subjects or outside socio/political considerations. For me, painting, as a conveyor of its own reality, is paramount.


In exploring traditions of authorship, I have considered the notion of originality as a trope, a figure of speech. For me, this philological scepticism is critically interesting and not simply as a collection of unrelated quotations. I want meaning to emerge in a hybrid mix of works which question stylistic orthodoxy and hierarchy. It follows that an irreducible reservoir of identity is created in a variety of visual products which, when segmented into groups, obstructs artist/me as originator of the whole. I hope that categories of work such as ‘Crosswords’, ‘History’, ‘Portraits’, or ‘Fetish’ constantly explode the myth of a stylistic continuum as pre requisite to specific authorship. I am compelled to use paint, however dinosaur like and retardataire, as a means of exploring this debate.


Painting for me shares many of the joys and/or pitfalls of language. If I consider Multilingualism as the Utopian norm, then painting, in an ideal world, would need a multitude of ‘styles/languages’ to express particular ideas. One imagines that Bel Canto works best in Italian, Cartesian philosophy in French, Drama in Greek…similarly for painting. With translation, I have a sense of loss….there is a kind of ‘seepage’ of meaning. For example, when a joke is translated from one language to another, it’s not funny. Similarly, cultural norms and expressions seem to translocate with difficulty, if at all. My aim is to expose culture’s institutionalisation of the image and raise questions of connoisseurship and commodity in as many styles/languages as need be.


It seems that each generation re considers established formal and iconographic methods of analysis. Finally I realise that these theoretical debates bring me full circle. Undaunted, I continue to re contextualise what is known to me in an attempt to illuminate what I hope or imagine in the most persuasive painterly terms.


© Francine Scialom Greenblatt