"Done on a strong red background, this highly drawn self-portrait is a reminder of the many drawings I have done based on Van Gogh's self-portraits. The question asked reveals the importance of these two artists who are dear to me; Albrecht Dürer and Vincent Van Gogh."
"I made this large self-portrait on paper on May 11, 2012 in one work session, about two weeks after the previous one. I don't remember why animal figures are represented in the top of the work, but I think they convey quite well the fact that our thoughts exist both inside us and outside of us. The eye on the right (which is my left eye in reality) remains unfinished.
When I make an image, I fight a fierce battle (fighting for every movement, shape and colour, until I am exhausted). When I feel the click that tells me that this image is finished, I only see afterwards (the next day, or even a long time later?) that a part of it has remained unfinished. I never correct afterwards, I accept it as it is. It is very important for me because it is not premeditated, and this creates a positive dynamic tension with the parts of the painting that are much more worked."
"Drawing a circle with a raised hand to make sure it is not perfect (mythological stories say that a great painter, let's say Giotto, was able to do this, and that he would have done this in front of a king to prove to to him I don't know what …maybe that God was drawing through him). I notice from the small figure that comes out of the head on the left and from the direction of the green background, that the painting must have been turned 90 degrees at the beginning of its execution."
"I wanted to pay homage to Albrecht Dürer's nude self-portrait from 1509. At that time, I was looking a lot at the illuminations of the Middle Ages, which can be seen in the phantasmagorical aspect of the work, as well as in the work of the edge, which constitutes a kind of perspectival frame."
"This self-portrait done during the summer of 2016, is done with black wax chalk, operating a beautiful contrast with the lightness and brightness of the background colours. The line is drawn by hand, while my eyes are focused on capturing the features of my face in the mirror. My eyes are not detached from the mirror, so to speak, and the hand traces without being controlled by the eyes, hence this expressive drawing."
"This is a self-portrait of medium format, it is an oil on canvas, which is rare in my production, because it was realized at a time when I was already painting for years with acrylic. Double traditional in subject and pictorial technique, realized with a great economy of means. The visible brushwork reminds me of one of Rembrandt's late-life self-portraits."
"Unlike the previous self-portraits of the same size, this work was done only in acrylic, marking for me a passage in the mastery of this medium, making me a painter as well as a drawer. It was framed in a beautiful maple frame and exhibited in 2015 at the Chateau de Chambord."
"This is the most recent 70 x 50 cm drawing among the selection made by Simon de Pury. It was made in one sitting, but on a sheet of paper covered with many layers of tracings of all kinds. This gives the result a relief and an almost organic presence. It was made on my 44th birthday. I have often made images on my birthday."
"Made 12 days before Christmas 2016, this self-portrait remains frozen in the moment of its elaboration. Indeed, the right part is not yet finished, which allows one to see the way the face emerged, going out of this blue almost aquatic background. The star-shaped outline around it builds a subtle and unpremeditated transition between the face and what it is not. This self-portrait thwarts the classical tradition of portraiture, which is to place a face or a figure on a background, a landscape. "
"I don't know what pushed me to make this large self-portrait, only 2 days after the previous one and 2 days before the next one. This simplified body could find an echo in Picasso's 1937 painting The Acrobat, except that Picasso leaves his figure in a two dimensional plane. When one paints a self-portrait, the attention paid to the face is so predominant that the body is only the scaffolding leading to it."
"Simon de Pury's selection includes 9 self-portraits on canvas measuring 200 x 150 cm. The first self-portrait recalls the deformation of the face of the large-format self-portraits on paper that I made in 2012. The pupil of the eye on the right (which corresponds to my left eye in reality), refers to the glass eyes of the many birds I drew in the Natural History Museum in Vienna, the Kunsthistorisches Museum. This strange head seems to rest on an absent body. The white of the silhouette is that of the unpainted canvas. In the watermark is written in English, Chinese, Arabic and German an excerpt from the Charter of Human Rights. On top, large yellow initials indicate where the toilets are, in order to demystify the iconic status of a painting to that of a banal sign. With humour, it is also a metaphysical questioning on the long-term destination of this work and beyond, of my Work."
This self-portrait belongs to the year after I started to paint with oil paint. Unconsciously, it questions the hieraticism of the Fayum portraits. I remember working with olive green, with a very dim light outside."
"In contrast to the self-portrait made two days earlier, perched precariously on his map of the world, this self-portrait has again renounced his body. The size of the head has been determined several times, and these different "nestings" refer to the way Giacometti sought in his works, through a system of framing, to find the right proportion of what he wanted to represent, which is inseparably linked to what he wanted to observe. The background of my self-portrait is very luminous, because the colours are applied in thin layers, which leaves the white colour of the painted canvas omnipresent. This method comes from watercolour, a practice that has been with me for a long time."
"I made this large self-portrait on paper in a work session on April 25, 2012. The third eye in the middle of the forehead was not premeditated, it appeared after I tried to represent once again the reflection that was visible in my left eye. The more I looked at my eye, the bigger it became."
"Unlike other large self-portraits, this one is quite realistic. Like the others, it is done with acrylic and oil pastels, the latter revealing my drawing skills. The body is not present, and would be evoked however by this kind of column which supports the face, letting us glimpse ‘a body without organ’ as the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze posed it. Compared to Francis Bacon, who often carries me, the pink background participates more in the evocation of a body than in the representation of a perspectival space. My background is by difference, built by transparencies, and I did not seek to remake it for other works. It is written on this self-portrait "October 15, 2017, 15h36", whereas it was made before, on December 21, 2016."
"Made on January 2, 2017, this self-portrait refers to small self-portraits I may have made in early 2005, where I am seen wearing a sweater and a warm cap. I am not dressed up, as Rembrandt did in some of his self-portraits, but I wear these clothes because I am cold. The background is the light of the northern countries during winter. Baudelaire described two kinds of painters: those who prefer to paint in the South, where the light is strong, which leads them to represent what is around them, and others who are attracted by the light of the North. However, as it is weak, the painters are more confronted with what is hidden in their moods. This is one of the few self-portraits to have already been exhibited, at the Kunsthaus Zürich during my solo show there in 2019."
"When I painted this large self-portrait, I had just painted several in a row in a few weeks. I was undoubtedly in a period of deep questioning and was seeking, through repetition, a kind of purification. In contrast to the other self-portraits, the background of the painting is only painted on the face. The flower is an open reference to the history of art."
"This image results from the crossing of a painting by Hans Holbein the younger, the Darmstadt Madonna, with my own features. It creates a chimera, a monster, reflecting the dark wefts of the soul. It is a disfigurement and an act of destruction, as much of my identity as of the person represented. "Every act of creation is above all an act of destruction" said Picasso."
"I made this large self-portrait in 2007, 4 years after I moved to Berlin. I had a vision in which I saw myself more or less as I have tried to represent myself in this image. In my vision, I don't remember if the beautiful house above the animal is on its back or in the landscape behind. Unconsciously, one can find a reference to Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’".
"This work is a series of seven self-portraits in "A4" format, on a paper of the best quality, where the line is reduced to its essential. It is possible to draw a self-portrait in a single session, but to draw several in a row, even sketched, is rare, and I don't have an example in mind. That day, I spontaneously started to draw my self-portrait again and again until I was exhausted. These drawings remain in the order in which they were made and constitute a sort of sequence, tracing beyond each sheet the way in which the mind returned to the motif in different ways. It is a unique series in my work."
"This is the only time I have done a diptych self-portrait, inspired by the diptych paintings of Northern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Large size (200 x 300 cm), it was exhibited in 2015 at the Chateau de Chambord."
"In the history of art, self-portraits are primarily drawn or painted. There are few in sculpture. I made this self-portrait in 2015, after I started to have a second studio in the country where I could devote myself to sculpture, especially in wood. It took me a while to realize that a slice of tree trunk (just like cutting a slice of bread) has a powerful presence if it is simply attached to the wall. Wood brings a physical presence that refers to the absent body, of which only a face remains."
"I made this large sculpture in August 2016, from a piece of tree trunk. The reduction of the body to a kind of column may refer to my painting made on 24.12.2016 (the painting in this exhibition with the pale pink background). The face is not sculpted in relief, but only drawn. The back of the sculpture is painted vermilion red, while its front is in very light blue. The colour reveals the shape of the wood."
"In the history of art self-portraits are primarily drawn or painted, there are few in sculpture. I made this self-portrait in 2015 after I started to have a second studio in the country and where I can devote myself to sculpture, especially in wood. It took me a while to realize, that a slice of tree trunk (just like cutting a slice of bread) has a powerful presence if it is simply attached to the wall. Wood brings a physical presence, that refers to the absent body, of which only a face remains."
"In Simon de Pury's selection of my self-portraits, there are 4 drawings 70 x 50 cm, made in 2008, 2014, 2016 and 2020. The first of the series is made with fabrics to represent my clothing. At the time, I also used fabrics in painting and sculpture, which was close to a voodoo practice, but without really being aware of it. I also listened to a lot of music with my little USB music player when I was drawing. I used it a lot later when I drew in museums. This self-portrait is symbolically important since it announces the many museum drawing sessions I did afterwards, where this little device was as important as my drawing material. He writes at the top "with USB god", and the date is written at the bottom in three places: 30 (left shoulder). 7 (neck). 2008 (right shoulder), a bit like signing before a prayer."
"This drawing chosen by Simon de Pury dates from 2014. Compared to the other 3 self-portraits he chose in his selection, this one has a more classical graphic repertoire, mostly composed of a black pencil line and some touches of watercolour. It was largely done by a steady hand, which drew without the eye needing to look at the paper while doing so. In a way, a drawing made blindly."