Jean-Pierre Sergent


(X 1) Films Interviews transcriptions (2024)

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JOHNES RUTA: Good morning and good afternoon, it's today April 21st 2024, I'm Johnes Ruta from New Haven, Connecticut, USA. I'm an independent curator, an art theorist and a writer, and I'm here with my long-lost dear friend Jean-Pierre Sergent, who I knew from when he lived in Long Island City, in New York, were he stayed until 2003. And I've come here to Besançon, France, to talk with him and to spend some time and see his work and to learn about what he's working on these days and renew our friendship. So, I would like to ask him some questions about his work and have him, speak, informally as much as possible. So, I have some questions I wanted to ask him about his time in New York, about the years that he spent there. He said from 1993 to 2003. And, how you got there, Jean-Pierre? And about your associations there, with artists and your affinity with the beat generation, with Alexandra David-Néel…

JEAN-PIERRE SERGENT : Oh yes, but she's not part of the beat generation!

JR: Okay. No, but, as a personal mentor… Your inspirations from Allen Ginsberg and his poetry… from, Norman O'Brown's, work Life Against Death, 1959, which was essentially a psychoanalysis of history. And Richard Serra's sculptures and others…. So, please tell me what you like about those things and how you relate to it?

JPS: Well, first of all, Johnes, thank you so much for being here. It's really a great pleasure to welcome you here, in my Besançon studio's... Since we haven't seen each other for more than 20 years. So it's really important for me to exchange with you again. And yesterday, we went to the Courbet Museum and we really had a nice time in the city of Ornans.

JR: Yes, we had a wonderful time!

JPS: To see the paintings of Courbet and all those great artists. And, so today is a bit coldish, but sunny, there is a bit of sun, but it's cold like in winter time! 

JR: Yeah, it's cold!

JPS: It's so important to have this new interview with you. Unfortunately, we have not been in touch so much, but in New York, I met you through our common friend Miguel Angel Baltierra, who is an architect. And, we have been going to several exhibitions together and also we had often talk about artists and why and how Art are so importants!  And to get back to the my story, I get to New York because I had owned a farm in France for ten years… I moved to Montreal in 1991 and from Montreal then, I moved to New York in 1993 were I had three successive studios: the first one in Brooklyn, in Dumbo, after, one in Chelsea, and then I moved finally in Long Island City, where you came to visit me with your close friend Henry Sofejco.

JR: Yes, you had a nice large Studio, there, in Long Island City. I came to visit many times and it was very interesting to see what you were working on at the time, your prints and we'll talk about that. I'm very curious to know about your methodology and how you work. And, so in a sense, on a philosophical level, you describe yourself as an artist and an anthropologist.

JPS: No! I'm not an anthropologist at all! I'm interested in anthropology because it's in this discipline that I find my sources of inspiration, my images and themes.

JR: That's what I mean. Not formally, right, me neither, I'm a self-taught in the Art World as a writer. And so, especially in your work involving Karma-Kali series and tantric experiences, Sexual Dreams & Paradoxes (title of your last print on paper 2022 series), which are very much of interest. So I wanted to ask you, can you reference these categories in your work and briefly explain, the background of your ideas? And so, to introduce those unfamiliar terms to many people? As far as, this production and how we would like to, in my mission, to really develop these ideas in the world and the public, so that they're not overlooked.

JPS: Yes, I understand. Well, it's complicated to explain because it's mostly about sexual energies and Life as Energy! And you cannot find that in books. You have to experience it, you know? 

JR: You have to experience it, it's true!

JPS: So, I started to work mostly with erotic and pornographic images in New York in 1998, I believe. I've always been fascinated by the images and depiction of sexuality, orgasms, ejaculations, pleasure and ecstasies… It's like before, people used to like and seeing ecstasies in religious images of trances, you know, like women in ecstasies (Saint Theresa of Ávila) or even the crucified Christ in a state of ecstasy unto its death. But I rather experience ecstasies through sexuality, you know! I'm recuperating and I'm gathering a lot of pornographic images from the Net and, I'm redrawing those images to have something like flat: black and white, my work is a bit like the 'papier découpés' of Matisse! It's similar of Matisse's cut-outs papers, exactly…

JR: Oh, okay. 

JPS: Because silkscreen it's working like that: it is either black or white, you print it or you don't print it! So, it's a line or a shape, you know, you can not print any gray, there's no nuance at all. As you could see into the wall behind us… There's a multitude of images and I'm using also a lot of patterns coming from different cultures. In that sense, I'm deeply curious about what other cultures have done and achieved to access sexual pleasures and to access it a spiritual higher level of consciousness. That's my both main ways of research and interest. You know, I really want to go there, because, unfortunately, maybe it's a lack of spirituality in our society, which drives me to this interest? But most people will never understand that, if I'm using some strong and obvious sexual themes, I could talk also about spirituality at the same time; it doesn't seem connected for them, it's totally dissociated, you know! So that is the main problem of my art…  

JR: Right, this is a real problem that artists face because of the literal/rational inclination that artwork can be categorized.

JPS: Exactly, yeah.

JR: So we try to move beyond that, that lack of understanding of the connections between the spiritual and the physical world.

JPS: Exactly, yes.

JR: So and now, in this time, and I've seen many changes towards sexual freedom and orientation being more accepted in the public. But, there's still, a drawback in the public, against this kind of expression or more likely to categorize it rather than integrate it into a social understanding. So that's part of my goal!

JPS: Yeah, but 'regular' people (quote), you know, they don't care about those concepts and art. They just want to buy, you know! We are in a contemporary society were we want to buy things… the traveling, to buy a new car, and buying is fun! They find a new mistress or a new house… whatsoever, you know, we're living nowadays in a totally stupid society! There's no care anymore for other people. We just buy, that's it!

JR: Well, that's essentially is the big problem. It's up to the creative energies and the artists, to really develop and integrate an understanding in the public, so that these things are not just overlooked. And this is why, I feel, it's so really important for this subject matter, to be kind of being brought out into the world more deliberately; not to overwhelm the public, but to create identifications and what I call 'experiential'. And how the people can understand their sexual experiences as being naturalistic.

JPS: Yes, but the problem is that, as for example, I had a big show for four years at the Besançon Fine Arts Museum, and I had four walls like this one behind us in the staircase (72 paintings on Plexiglas, 80 m2). But I didn't get any responses from the public as nobody called me after that. You know, it's just if they haven't seen the artworks. And, they don't look at the work because they don't have the culture anymore to look at Art in general… They don't have the curiosity to look at the work. It's just as they're living in their own narrow mindset and in their own cars. And you know, it's getting terrible because nobody likes artists anymore (excepted for the rich and famous ones)! That's the cruel truth, you know, it's true, that's the really truth!!!

JR: Do you find that the way people look at work with the erotic references to be more furtive, perhaps?

JPS: Not even, you know, it is more about Art in general, you know! 

JR: They openly appreciate it? 

JPS: I don't know? It's a really old question because, I believe that people who were buying art were much more educated before… 

JR: Next point: in your work and in your conversations, you talked about other connections and inspirations and influences from Les Chants Adamantins, Saraha & Lara Braitstein, The Tantric Way, Art - Science - Rituel by Anit Mookerjee…

JPS: Yes, yes, yes! I really like to read about Indian tantric practices and rituals. Maybe I could quote a text if you want to? 

JR: Yes. 

JPS: So, It's from Mukherjee, who wrote a lot of books about tantrism: 

"Tantra is a creative mystery that leads us to transmute rejection more and more into inner awareness." So you become more aware of the world! "Not by stopping acting, but by transforming attraction into creative evolution."

That's the exact same role of the artist. 

JR: Okay.

JPS: "Its aim is not to discover the unknown but to realise the known." To realize it, to do it, you know… "Because what is here is elsewhere and what is not here is nowhere". 
You have to go back to reality, What is there or what is not there! You don't have to go into bullshit religious concepts whatsoever, you know, you know, you go directly to Life reality. 

"The result is an experience that's even more real than that of the objective world." 

And I become to believe that I'm working a bit into what we do call the Māyā, the Hindu Māyā illusion (where things appear to be present but are not what they seem), it's like a dream. Yes, I think I'm doing that.

JR: Just some prophetic dreams?

JPS: No, not prophetic at all but, it's another level of reality, located deeper into the unconscious.

JR: Okay, which is something that's reachable through dreams?

JPS: Dreams or shamanic trances… 

JR: Shamanic trances, oh, agreed.

JPS: But you know, they are there. We live within them, we live with those energies, but we don't feel it, you know? And maybe some artists could feel those energies by colors, by shapes, You know…

JR: Okay, well, that was one question as far as what you're referring to, could be described in Jungian terms as sort of the collective unconscious and how it's started in the West; but in Native Cultures, it's more definitely integrated into the experience of the tribal consciousness level. 

JPS: Exactly, yes!

JR: Okay. Yeah.

JPS: And the main problem is that today, we still do have like a common unconsciousness, but it's now narrowing, because to be aware of the World is to be open minded. You know, Amerindians were doing prayers to Beauty, to the Sun, to the Flowers, to the Bison or to a lot of other spirits like those… You know, they were connected to Nature; while today we are totally disconnected from this nature.

JR: Okay. That's an important point you said. Yes, because being connected with Nature, it's also an expression of Nature and into human consciousness.

JPS: I am going to quote a second extract about Kali, about her sexual energy and my work Karma-Kali…

JR: Okay! Yes please.

JPS: That's a series of prints I've done, two years ago, it's screen-printed on 60 by 80 cm papers…

JR: Good scales. 

JPS: So: "Kali symbolises the active cosmic power of eternal time (Kala) and, in this aspect, she represents annihilation, for it is only at the price of her death or destruction that the seed of life can germinate." 

It's like some kind of auto-sacrifice. 

JR: Sacrificial? 

JPS: "Kali embodies creation, preservation and destruction." All three aspects of it: Life, Sex and Death. "She inspires both terror and fervour. As a disintegrating force, she is painted black because all colours disappear in black; in the same way, all names and forms disappear in her".

So it's really something like a black hole which takes you in. So, she eats it and expels it after, it's like, you know, like a respiration: in and out, in and out! You know. And my work is talking about that also… You go in and you go out.

JR: So that's where the idea of inspiration comes from, breath?

JPS: Yes, maybe, yes.

JR: Which is a human interaction with the World through breathing, through breath itself.

JPS: Yes, okay, maybe we can stop now for this part.


JPS: Part two, Johnes, so you wanted to talk about something else? 

JR: We'll go around the bar, let's address your methodology a little bit, at this time, and then we'll relate that to a more philosophical level in your work. 

JPS: Okay. 

JR: And you can make those associations as you like. In the sense of your print making works that are made by a superimposition of motifs, imageries and figures, sometimes underlying layers and the technique as we discussed, understood as 'reverse glass' painting! In painting, I've seen this many times, but in printing it's much more complicated! Reverse glass process in which foregrounds (the first layers) are painted first silkscreened inside of a 1.05 x 1.05 m square transparent plexiglass. Actually, you're working on an inside-out sequence in accumulating successive layers; and your imagery is often interlocking stars patterns, such as in Arabic non figurative art (as moucharabieh: hidden-unveiled). Whereas in your work there's more association with figures, in imagery often erotic. And these are really, I would say, comprehensively manifested in your work. In the sense of comprehensively, that they're integral and integrated in your working process?

JPS: Yeah, in fact, I'm using silkscreen printing. So I'm printing the images on this table, that belonged to Andy Warhol, it was at his Factory. 

JR: Oh, really?

JPS: I bought it from my boss, as I was printing at the Drexel Press in Long Island City (1997). And yet this whole press, this whole table comme directly from NY! I was looking for a table to buy and, Georges, my boss at the time told me: "Oh, it used to belong to Andy Warhol!" So I bought it and my working partners bring it to my studio, to make it a short story. Silkscreening is a good way of copying and reproducing images with the right color I want. And I am mixing them, entangling them… because I like to create some kind of confusion into the work of art. I don't like things to be obvious. I like things to get in and get out, mixing informations together. And, what you call in French: 'voilé-dévoilé', like, showing it obscenely and masking and hiding the image, until it almost disappears! you know, it's like a game! And I'm using a lot of patterns to mask the too obvious erotic contents. Here, on the panting panel, there are some flowers patterns coming from Japan (Sakura Flowers, cherry tree blossom)… Yantra patterns from India, and from many different cultures.

JR: Yeah, many different motifs and patterns!  

JPS: And to mix all those visual elements together, it's like creating a melting pot, a new world, in which I put different informations, who are not really related but that I could, through my assembly work, connect them. An artist is like a glue. We are gluing things together, putting things together, in order to make a, quote, A NEW WORLD! A new higher information level. I'm collecting pieces of information and putting them together. So it's something new. I'm mixing things, I'm like a cook or, I don't know, maybe a shaman… I'm making and inventing a new recipe with different ingredients, and I put them together, with different color and energies. I like to mix different energies, because, I'm somehow bored and fed up, I'm bored to live in only one culture. I'm bored with French people, I'm bored with Americans, and if ever I was living with the Asmats from New Guinea, I will probably get bored with the Asmats too! I like things to be more open minded. That's really important for me! Because somehow, as human, we are all acting wrongly! Americans are wrong, the French are wrong, Australians are wrong, even the Swiss, and so on. And we don't have, what we name in French 'la science infuse' or absolute wisdom. We say we don't have the higher level of knowledge, of wisdom, of consciousness. Nobody has it…

JR:  That's the problem, that's very clear!

JPS: I mean, we do have some small part of it. So I'm taking those small parts and I'm mixing them into my work. So maybe I could get more wiser than others? I don't know, I'm trying to…

JR: Well, I don't mean to keep repeating my point, which is: we need to bring out, we need to carry the level of the cultural consciousness to understand Art, so the appreciation will come back with Art. And how we see what's happening in the current Art Market, not to preach, but really it's most important, that expressions are really deeply connected and deeply understood, so that they can be appreciated in the public. So that the Art Market doesn't just collapse, because no one understands what artists truly are doing these days. 

JPS : That's the paradox!

JR: That's also, because artists are so essentially 'avant garde', ahead of others, by definition of what the common consciousness is, in the social world. So now, we've seen this happening in the past 20 to 25 years, that the appreciation of Art has gone mostly into Museums and big blue-chip galleries not so much with contemporary working regular galleries and I don't know… it's just a thought. So let's talk more. It's our responsibility, as artists, to be aware that we need to; I don't know, I don't want to say, we have to find a way, really, to carry the consciousness forward, without insulting it, without making it feel that it did. The public will understand, because this is part of the experiential reality that we are in, certainly in this World. And it's becoming more frightening because of the lack of trust, in creativity, resulting in the other expressions of psychological expressions of aggression that we have. So how can we counteract them?

JPS: Well, I'm doing all what I can as an artist! But one have to admit and what I could see is, that even if I am showing my work in some important cultural places, I don't have any response from the public for my work. So what to do? It was different before, now, the only artists who have some kind of influence into the public, are the one who are selling for more than 1 million or $2 million US Dollars, otherwise nobody give a sheet and nobody even, look at the work. There was an article, not too long ago, in The Gazette Drouot Magazine: "LʼArt, valeur refuge",  June 2022, in France. And they were saying that, young artists were selling about ten years ago, for their first selling price in an auction house, was between 5 to 10,000 USD (that's the price of one of my painting). And now it went up to 300 or $500,000 for their first ever sale in the same auction house! It's obviously delirious and totally unfair! So if ever, you don't sell our works at that high-rise level of price, you are out! You don't sale anything at all! And your work is not even seen, neither appreciated! Even if I'm showing a lot of it through the website and the social networks… Nobody's cares and sees my work. It's just as if it doesn't go to the public. And you know, what can you do? Except being in the top ten gallery in the world? Otherwise, nobody's going to look at your work. You could show it in a small gallery, whatever were, in New Heaven, Besançon, Dijon or Zurich… nobody gives a shit, you know! And nobody will buy your art because they think it is not very valuable, you know, that the point! And you could price it at $10,000, you could price it at $20,000, you could put $200,000 If nobody buy it at this price, your work doesn't worth anything, it's zero value. As for me, in my studio, I could put any price, I don't sell any, so? 

JR: Sometimes, it's much better to just raise the price as high as possible!

JPS: Okay, but you cannot sell for one million Dollars in Besançon because already at 10,000€ nobody's buying it, you know. So even if I were putting it at 10€, nobody would buy it! So it's just that artists are now deeply fucked by this new Art Market. We are totally fucked, because all the medium sized galleries have been closing after the COVID. My small gallery in Zurich closed. They couldn't pay the rent anymore. You know, it's a difficult situation for artists and gallerists, and for all creators altogether: writers, painters, musicians, poets… It's a very terrible situation we are into now.

JR: But the issue that I've been dealing with, in terms of what I see out in the public and in the galleries and where really the wealth is going… The problem is, it looks to me like it's going more towards overly simplified artwork.


JPS: Of course, rich people are stupid, so they are  mostly buying stupid art!

JR: Nobody is counter-attacking the market!

JPS: But you can not go against Damien Hirst! He is selling for 2 or 3 million, so nobody could fight against that! He is showing in every big Museum. I don't have anything against his work or against Jeff Koons, as they are just all over the World. You cannot go against those you can't go against those hegemonic artists, as they have the upper hand on all the nice exhibitions spaces. We, the other artists, we don't have access to space like that. I'm trying to get some visibility into the net, as I told you, I almost never get any result… I do have, like around 30,000 contacts through LinkedIn. And sometimes I get an article or I'm going to work with a new gallery in Cyprus, which is good, but it's still very little rewards. You get very little response to what you do.

JR: This is the true problem of the consciousness level of the public.

JPS: Yeah, but Van Gogh, had the same problem at this time. So, maybe there is a disconnection between the time of creation and the time for the public to enter into the work? Maybe there's 50 years of a gap. Who really knows? I mean, maybe it's normal? I don't know? It's questionable, anyhow.

JR: Well, how can we approach that problem? What I'm talking about is like when I have seen a New York gallery which coordinated a program of Damien Hirst exhibits all over the world, in three galleries in New York, and galleries in Hong Kong, in Tokyo, in Milan and Paris opened simultaneously on the clock around the World. And when I walked into the gallery, I said to myself, what is this? This is dots, just some colored dots. And what is the meaning of it? I mean, it just goes to the oversimplification of an art piece, of a meaning, there is no real meaning in it. It's just like a dot, just there, you know? A dot and nothing! It's not even a void where there's, you know, an empty space, to walk into. And this is the problem that I see, and it's related to philosophy, in my mind, in terms of what Parmenides of Elea had already talked about, as he said: "Being is, non-being is, being and non-being are." But there, in his dots paintings, there is nothing. What is non-being? Non-being is just like a computer virus that just eats up everything and destroys it. And this is what we see going on in the body of politics. Okay, however, so that's an issue. Let's go back to our discussion.


JR: So, let's talk for a moment about the technical issues. Can you elaborate on your working process? And also talk about some of the technical problems that you have in creating a piece, using silkscreen and printing on Plexiglas using this reverse glass work process?

JPS: Well, it is complicated, but I'm getting to a point where I know exactly what I'm doing. Everything is set up for my prints. I am used to it, you know. Of course, it's complicated to print on such a smooth surface like plexiglass, it's really complicated. Yes, especially for the registration of the image, because my paintings panels are divided in two parts. So I have to be well registering and setting perfectly the films and the silk-screens frames, so the image are well and straight printed. But, it's okay. 

JR: Yes.

JPS: Anyhow, today, as often, my main problem is to find money to work, because I need to buy some paint and inks and paper. Heidi Suter, my gallerist from Zurich just bought me a Plexiglas painting, so I could buy some new materials for working again and I am really happy about that!

JR: And you're working with inks or paints?

JPS: Mostly with acrylic, regular acrylic paint. 

JR: Ah, I see, okay. So your work involves, a process of accumulated layering and adding several layers on top of each others?

JPS: Yes.

JR: On the printing and how did you developed that technique? Briefly, I don't want to get into your trade secrets.

JPS: No, no. At one point, I started silkscreen in Montreal, because I was living next to a t-shirt silkscreening shop where they were printing t-shirts. And at one point, I was collecting my images from the New York Sunday Times newspaper, and I was cutting out the images and after that, I did some photocopy of them, in color... But I wanted to print out the color I wanted and so, I asked the guy to expose me some frames, and then I started to print one image at a time. And about the layering, I like, when you go into nature, everything is interconnected and in relation with each other, you don't have, like, a Tree alone, you don't have like a Bird alone, you don't have like a River alone. It's all connected, intermingled and entangled, at the same time T. So, I want to get rid of the time and space. I want to break the time, the linear time and individuality, to get into some kind of, quote, ETERNITY. You know, that's why I'm using also, I said it already, gleaned images from different cultures. It could come from the Maya. It could come from the Hindu, it could come from the Japanese. If I put them together, I'm getting like a new whole expanded World! Much more interesting for me.

JR: Well, in that sense, what you're indicating is that, the principle of time, is really a human intervention on Nature, in a sense, or an attempt to correspond to it. But with, not from the organic side of the mind, but more from the rationalistic point of the mind: right and left brain, etc.. Which is really, in many ways, an imposition of human reality upon the natural world.

JPS: Yeah, because of the right and left brain! I think I went with you to see the conference of Leonard Shlain at the Open Center in NYC: "The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, the Conflict Between Word and Image", I think we went together? He was talking about the opposition of the left brain versus the right brain? And we, human are only thinking with the left brain (words and numbers) and the right brain (images and emotions) is not so much in use. That's why I like images so much! but I like text also! You know, I'm reading a lot of books and I'm good in both. But in fact, there's much more energy, into image, because it's there, it's obviously present and you cannot escape it. It's in front of you and you merge into it! And I have seen in a TV program, an interview were a famous porn actress Katsumi, spoke about a book she wrote about her numerous sexual experiences as a porn star. And in fact, she says that she really deeply enjoyed it! And so... But she was sitting next to a writer and the writer said more or less : "No, the written erotical texts are much more powerful than pornographic sexual images! Just read the Marquis de Sade to convince you! Writing is much, powerful, stronger and vivid!" But I don't believe so. I mean, I think we are more connected within our body directly with images! And that's why most religions have also used so many images, like within the Churches and everywhere else, because they need to impress, the poor and credible people.

JR: Well, I actually referenced that here, in your studio, you have quite an extensive library of literature especially. And I see that literature is really kind of an organic expression also. I mean, rather than nonfiction being more rationalisticly, fully expressed or developed. But your library has a lot of stories which are really organic. From what I see and what I recognize in it. So that means a lot, in terms of one thing that is meaningful to me as a writer, is the difference between definition and description. So what I try to do, because I write not about dreams, I write dreams, literally. And I try to describe them rather than define what they are (the novel "Fires Eternal Morning"). So this is something I relate to and why I relate to artists so strongly, and poets too. And not so much with people writing nonfiction, on a personal level. And this is why I feel connected with the Art World so strongly and in what you're doing. And the layering in your work especially, is very appealing because, it's like the layering of conceptual realities.

JPS: Yes, dreams, accumulating and layering dreams, yeah.


JR: Dreams and experiences, especially when you're thinking in terms of Eros. So, but by the same token, I want to say, how does the scale of your prints, that you're working in is 1.05m? How does that relate to your intentional purposes? specifically, why did you developed that format?
JPS: Yeah, it's happened that in Montreal, I had ordered some cut out of Plexiglas sheets as I was painting, at the time, some kind of vertical columns, maybe five parts of 50 by 50 cm. And I had some small rectangles leftover, with ratio 1/2, and, I started to print on those really small pieces of plexiglass, on those leftovers, because I didn't use it for my paintings. Firstly, I painted on top of the plexiglass and then I silkscreened on it's back, reverse. And it happened that I came to New York and I was still using these 35 by 17.5 cm small rectangles, that I still use, also, to frame my paintings today, around my painting, there is a surrounding, which is still there. And at one point, an old friend of mine, Germain Roesz, came to New York, he is a painter, a famous painter, and in my studio, he said, "Oh, Jean-Pierre, could you imagine the visual impact that it could have on a larger scale painting rather than this small format!" So I thought to myself and I decided to get into this larger scale format of 105 cm (x3 times bigger). And, at one point in time, I asked myself well, what the fuck is going there, why is that 105 cm and not 107 cm for example? And it happens that, my high is 1.72 cm and the golden number of my body is 105 m, you know. So last time, we were talking about how the bees are building their honeycombs, it's like an organic construction and connection, that I found throughout practice, you know, it's through the working process, that I found this perfect connection. So this size is really perfect for my body! I haven't calculated it and didn't use the utmost famous Le Corbusier Golden Number (1.618), but in fact, I found it.

JR: It's recurrent then?

JPS: Yeah, of course, I use only this printing format for the Plexiglas paintings. That's it!

JR: So, you did that as a specific organic nature, a unique entity?

JPS: Yeah, absolutely, that's how my work is organically built and exactly connected and also thought but, somehow a posteriori! I hadn't consciously thought about doing it, but my body have done it by itself!

JR: Also a question I would ask about the color resonances in your work. And how those occur to you, I guess, I would ask… I'm not asking you to… well it depends on how you want to describe it, It's up to you.

JPS: It's not clear, I didn't get it?

JPS: Color resonance, color resonances like, you know…

JPS: I understand.

JR: There are… the reds and blues, but the reds and blues, in your work they work together, they're harmonious. 

JPS: I'm working with harmonies, yes.

JR: Harmonies!

JPS: But, you know, I have 2 or 3 color masters. Of course, it is Matisse and Rothko, as I really love the colors harmonies of Rothko and Soutine of course.

JR: Chaim Soutine, yes.

JPS: I really love him, especially for the energy of Life, which is there, into his paintings. Life is there, it's like some germinal sperm. It's just like sperm… His paintings are ejaculating. You know, it's like 'jouissance' (climax), you know. And, the colors must always be like that. But first of all, in my work, I use some references to Art. Then, secondly, there are some references to Mexico, to Egypt etc. You know, when you go into the tombs in Egypt, often the ceilings are painted in deep dark blue and you are entering into a totally different spiritual dimension, trough colors.

JR: I'm sorry, entering into what?

JPS: An infinite dimension within the blue and the stars. Or you can find that also in Yves Klein. You know about Yves Klein works on Blue?

JR: Yeah. 

JPS: So the colors are changing the waves of your brain. And that's what I'm using in my work. And also, I'm using it with my experience to Nature. If ever I see and find some stones… Look, we have this strange stone. I found it in canoeing with my girlfriend Olga, in a river in Pennsylvania, you know, and I use stones or…

JR: Let's talk about this stone. That's quite a remarkable stone.

JPS: Yeah, there's a river, so it's in Pennsylvania, next to Strasburg, and my girlfriend Olga had some family there. So we went to visit them a few times. And while canoeing with her nephews, we stopped on the river bank and we found plenty of stone with incredible shapes… So I collected like, I don't know? but maybe 20kg of stones but I couldn't bring all of them back from New York to here, in France. So I have chosen a few and I've drawn this one into a painting which is just behind us. Because this shape, it's like an house. It's so strange, It's just as you have a kind of mystery into this shape and also into its weight…

JR: Stones, how many stones have that same shape?

JPS: None, absolutely zero! I think that's the only one, as every and each stone in the World is unique!

JR: I see in your paintings, a recurrence of those.

JPS: Yeah, because, it's a shape which doesn't really exist nowhere else, except, if you find it! You need to go out, to make the walk, to make the trip, in order to find THE STONE.

JR: Accidentally? 

JPS: No, not at all! not accidentally but by coincidence. So, you need to go out there, in this specific River at the time T, to find it. It's a lucky and spiritual encounter.

JR: Finding things is a very interesting principle as well, like things you've accidentally recovered?

JPS: Maybe we can stop there.

JR: I have more questions…



JR: So Jean-Pierre, thinking as a theoretical observer, I can see and feel the subtleties that emerge from the inner layers of patterns, often over a period of time, which is interesting in terms of collecting art, because what happens, in many ways and many of my own collection, I see different things over a period of time looking at the same art. 

JPS: Okay, yes...

JR: So that's very good, because then they have subtlety. So after first viewing, you know, things change and also the sensitivities and the affinities of objects and figures; and each figure, which is depicted, how should I say, ae subsumed in their personal context? Showing presences which relate to issues of eroticism and relations between individuals, so what do you think of that?

JPS: I will tell you an anecdote, that's from the place and time when we met at the Alliance Française in New York, in 1996 and I had 4 paintings exhibited Suspend Time side by side (140 x 560 cm) in the hallway, and the receptionist at the desk, was sitting right in front of my painting, for maybe like two weeks (before seeing what was into the painting). 

JR: Oh, really?

JPS: The exhibition stayed like six months, but she was at the desk answering the phone, and onces, she gets a phone call and she was looking at my painting simultaneously, without her left brain being connected. And she see, that there is a deer in the painting, staring at her and she gets scared! So she needed to be disconnected, in order to get connected to my painting and see what was in the painting, you know what I mean?


JR: Yeah, that's an interesting point. Can you explain it more?

JPS: Because if you just want to look at my painting with the left brain (that's a theory, which is valid or not?), you will not understand anything… You may see some shapes, like some some women, some dicks or some tits, but you're not going to be connected with the energy… Or in this painting we just talked about, the deer was looking at her for 2 or 3 weeks or months, I don't really remember. And once, at some special point and time, as she was sitting in front of the painting, all the time, every day from 9 to 5.

JR: And suddenly, there is a transformation?

JPS: No, no transformation at all! Because she was at the phone? You understand? She gets disconnected and have seen and discovered the true fact of the DEER STARING AT HER! (She told me at the time: "You scared me, Mr Sergent, with your painting!)

JR: She disconnected from the rational analysis?

JPS: So that's how one could enter into my art and my paintings. it takes time! Maybe it will take you ten years. I don't really give a shit! It's not my problem. No, it's not my problem. But maybe it could take you, like… a few seconds… And you get into the energy, who knows?

JR: Yeah, you could get into the energy. But then, there's also a shifting and a new manifestation, in the perception of a new emerging paradigm. So sometimes also, the energy is a conduit, that leads you to more manifestations over a period of time, too. 

JPS: It's good too, my art is like a game, you know? It's a game with the viewer, of course, yeah. 

JR: Okay. 

JPS: I'm making some visual proposals: either, you like it? or you don't like it? It's not really my problem! But I'm playing with the viewer, of course. That's a game! And to tell you the truth, in New York, a lot of people were laughing at my work. "Oh, whaou! a big dick! Or is that the Virgin Mary? No, that's not the Virgin Mary; but maybe her name is Mary!" Who knows? French are way too serious about Art! And we all have, like, our own culture, our own moral taboos and I'm lucky enough to be, how can I say it clearly? I can navigate into, so many different cultures. That's what makes me special and I guess, that's what makes my Art so different!

JR: This is what I'm talking about, this is the depth of your work. It's it's even a simplification to call it 'depth'. It's like, the shifting of nebulae, and forms that changes… As sometimes you see a face; sometimes you'll see an object; sometimes it's a cloud form; sometimes it doesn't have any definition at all, but a PRESENCE. And then that's the beauty of it.

JPS: Yeah, it's absolutely true, the presence, yes!

JR: You know, so that the side of the brain that wants to define something, it's never right, even it might be successful momentarily. But the thing about Art, when Art really is successful, it changes over a period of time, even if it's the same expression you're looking at. Even a minimalist painting, sometimes will change too.

JPS: Exactly, yeah. It's true, of course…

JR: You think you know what you're looking at. And then, you look at it a month later and says, oh, I see something totally different!

JPS: Like Agnes Martin abstract paintings! You know, she's good, she's great!

JR: Right, you also talk about, polyphony, polyphonies, in extra-European Art, that occur in primitive Art Cultures? How did you relate to that? This is part of your theoretical writing and main themes and statements that you fight for?

JPS: Because, firstly, it may stem from an obvious lack of meaning as something nowadays, don't give me enough energy. You know, we have seen a lot of European paintings yesterday at the Courbet's Museum, but somehow, I was feeling still empty after our visit. The paintings hadn't nourished me. I mean, Courbet feeds me in a way that the Artist fed me throughout its experience of a painter, of what he wanted to achieve. And also to become a great artist and so on… He wanted to paint regular and ordinary women (not in outdated mythological scenes); he wanted to paint trees, Nature… And I'm deeply impressed by all that! But I'm not so impressed by the painting object by the paint in-itself, because, for me, a painting is a narrow minded view of the World and of Society. You know, it's like being square headed, locked up. I mean, of course, I'm working with the square formats, but I really hope I can escape from the 'square mind'. You know! I'm not so crazy about what I call the 'window painting'. And that's why I like Pollock so much. Because he gets out of the frame. 

JR: Who? 

JPS: Jackson Pollock, he gets out of the canvas frame's, he is directly into the Magma (Magmatic materia) and the Unconscious? Into the Universe, you know! It's like confusion state of the mind… fusion and confusion. You know? And he knew also a lot of about Navajo artists Indians painters, who where drawing on the sand (like the tibetans mandalas), he painted also on the floor. As for me, I'm also working flat too, so I'm not painting vertically like as with a traditional easel painting. I always paint on the ground. I'm grounded when I'm painting and taking into account the four directions: North, South, East, West, it's like being into a COSMIC DANCE. I'm dancing with my paintings and my images.

JR: Yesterday, how do you name the Town we went to?

JPS: Ornans!

JR: We went to Ornans to the Courbet Museum, which was vey interesting, just wonderful. And I'm thinking, one of the things that was pointed out a number of times in the narratives, was how he kind of rattled the conventions of his time?

JPS: Exactly, because he never painted the usuals mythological scenes that other artist were painting. Because at this time there were a lot of 'pompiers' painters. Those are the ones who were painting mythological and out-of-date anthology scenes. Because there is always a problem with the body, there was, and it's always true today, the representation of the NAKED BODY, and sexual organs and sexual organs (vulva, cock, etc.). At that time, you couldn't paint any naked woman outside of a mythological or religious scene, out of the blue like that! You needed to have a reference, a moral benchmark… So Courbet never painted some mythological scenes. He painted regular women, his mistress, his girlfriends ans so on…

JR: But he still titled it as: "The Origin of the World"!

JPS: It's anecdotal! Maybe the painting have been named like that long after he painted it! Who knows? Who cares? (it's just a woman pussy!) It's not important! It's not the problem. But anyhow the World has an origin, that you believe in mythology or not, or religion or not. There is an origin which is the Bindu Point, the Big Bang Cosmic. So it had absolutely nothing to do with religions. The starting point of the World, of the Universe have nothing to do with religions… Monotheisms came only about 2 000 years ago. It doesn't mean anything for anybody. So its work was really about painting farmers, painting women who were bathing and in the Loue River, they were swimming in the Loue River that's it. He was painting out his own reality… And, maybe, they were not beautiful as one could expected, as we say: Art, should be beautiful? That where and why, Courbet is really important. You know, he gets out of this stupid idea of conventional beauty!

JR: It was a presence but it wasn't not necessarily beautiful?

JPS: No, I mean, beauty is always connected to culture! to a social milieu! Like the bourgeois culture or the 'bon goût', you know, it never came out of the blue, from nowhere… Beauty doesn't exist by itself, it's always a concept, a reference, an idea about it! 

JR: Yes. 

JPS: What you may see beautiful, people would say it's really ugly and disgusting! The concept of beauty is not universal!

JR: Even on a level of how we perceive another person. You know, sometimes you say, "oh, this woman is beautiful," and someone would say there's nothing particular about her!

JPS: So it's really a personal taste, yes!

JR: So it's subjective.

JPS: Subjective of course! And to get back to your question: I'm really interested in "Primitive Art" quote. As you could see here, there's a lot of masks from Mexico and Guatemala, because those artefacts are talking about the connections between Humans and the Animals. They are talking about those connections and about the spirits. We are all living with spirits around us…


But somehow, not anymore… Because we, Mankind as a whole, we are killing everything. Now Earth is getting killed, and all the natural energies are gone for the most part almost. That's why I wrote the text about Bartleby. Because last summer, I used to go canoeing every other weekend when I visit my mom in Morteau, in the Jura Mountains, were there's a place called, 'Les Bassins du Doubs' and there is a big waterfall after 'Le Saut du Doubs'… In fact Courbet painted it! There's a painting of him at the Museum, and it's really beautiful. But last year there was no water from July to the end of October… 

JR : So, It dried completely. 

JPS: Yeah, completely. It was just like a small tricklet, nothing, the Water was gone! And this is thousands of cubic meters of water, which disappeared, which evaporate, last year! So you end up in front of that disastrous reality, and you say to yourself: What the fuck is going one here nowadays? I mean, like the Shaman Black Elk, had said in an interview, were he was talking about that the Sacred Tree has disappeared, because the sacred tree is where you can talk to the spirits and the Four Directions and the ancestors. But if the Tribes disappear with the knowledge, the Tree disappears also, you are left alone, all by yourself. You cannot connect with anybody anymore, with the dead people neither… You cannot talk to anybody, you really are all alone into an immeasurable loneliness. I think that maybe we are reaching a time in history of humanity, where we are the most alone. Maybe we can connected with each other through the Net, but we are all getting disconnected from family members, from friends! Because we're doing business (homo economicus) and that's it! It's just that we are fucked! We are really deeply fucked, I think! With money as the only valuable goods, we're going to have some really serious problem to survive as Humankind as a whole, yes, I believe so!

JR: This is the dilemma we're in. So I think there's some question and my next question is related to that point…


JR: Okay, just going back at one point, we had referred about the Egyptian Goddess Isis and what you had described, that mythical presences that explore unfathomable depths of intimacy. I thought that was a very interesting perception. And I want to try to, I'm not asking for a contrast, but, how, the theories and philosophies of John Cage, with his idea of silence, also has to do with the Void itself. What is inside of the Void, of Silence. And what he did was to elaborate, first of all, was a kind of approach to an absolute silence, if there is such a thing? Secondly, that there is an organic harmonic that takes place in human life that there is no actual silence. I don't want to get into this story, but one curious thing he said very briefly was, that he went to the Anechoic chamber at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Going into it, the technician said, this is a place where there's absolutely no sound. And after a while, he came out and he went to the engineer and he said: "But it wasn't completely silent!" And so the engineer said: "Well, describe what you heard?" And he said: "Well, I heard two sounds!" So the engineer said: "Well, the high pitched sound that you heard was your nervous system in operation and the low pitched sound, was your blood and circulation." So you can't escape it, except if you're not in the World anymore and outside the Void. And then, there is the Void itself, what is the Void inside of a Black Hole? Inside of the meaning of what we talked about before? Non-being. So this has to do with History in many ways and how we understand, what it is, the difference between individuality and the History of the World. And your readings of the classicist Norman O. Brown and his work developing different aspects of psychoanalysis, of history itself (“Life Against Death,” 1959). I don't know if you want to talk about that at all?

JPS: Not really, because you recommend me with Henry, the lecture of Norman O. Brown, I liked to read him, but it's only texts extracts from different writers quotes, he mainly cites Freud. And today, I tried to find an extract from him… And I was reading a nice passage, and it was, in fact, written by Henry Miller! So, you know, I don't need that quotation but I understand what you are saying and I also want to tell people that you're from New York and you had meet all those Beat Generation guys. You met with John Cage, you met  Allen Ginsberg. And I don't know if you ever met Kerouac also? 

JR: No, he was gone already. 

JPS: Yeah, but you had met all those important guys, and I should say, it is really important to talk together. You took some course with John Cage? you took some course with him?

JR: My friend did.

JPS: Henry, yeah, secondhand meeting.

JR: Secondhand, but quite extensive because he was really thrilled with him.

JPS: Yeah, so it's complicated because, John Cage, I really like is artworks and writings also, because he was doing some drawingS on the floor with large, long papers, and he was painting with a large brush with Chinese ink. And it was like a metaphor of time passing by, and, of course, at the end, there's no more ink. Like at the end of our lives, there's no more life! It's a real life lesson. And he was also working with stones, some stone like this one. 

JR: It's a Mookaite stone

JPS: He also gave me the idea about working with stones, and he traced with ink the stone's contours. As he was really deeply impressed by the Japanese Temple in Kyoto, the Ryōan-ji (the Temple of the Dragon at Peace) Stone Garden (1450).

JR: This stone It's almost figurative in a way: head body, tail…

JPS: Yes, it is!

JR: Very interesting and beautiful stone...

JPS: So, I am interested in all those Cage's concepts, but I'm not a musician, you know, so I cannot use those concepts so much into my art, but I really love them…

JR: In terms of harmonics, you do! In terms of your color expression, or color resonance also.


JPS: Yes, I like the Void to be present as a reality of possibilities that might arise. That's where everything is created. We talked about the Bindu Point. That is the starting point of the Cosmos of course, and of every one of us...

JR: Well, this is related to what you talked about Herman Melville's Bartleby, as you say.

JPS: I say "Bartlebi" or "Bartleby", but no one really knows the true pronunciation?

JR: It doesn't really matter anyhow as this is an important influence to you. And the interesting part of it is what the philosopher and critic Jacques Deleuze, who understood Bartleby situation, said:

"Bartleby is a detonator, and a revelator in his environment, especially in a New York City office in the mid-1800s. He's not a sick man, as his colleagues perceive him, but the doctor (shaman) of a sick America."

So you relate Bartleby to the experience of the Amerindians of the plains?

JPS: Yeah, exactly.

JR: And the encounter with the American settler movement, that really destroyed their cultures. And also with the betrayal by American politicians in their treaties with the American Indians and thus confusing the pertinent phrase "Indian giver", which sounds innocuous, but when you really understand what it means, it's just that you know, that when you give something to the Indians, it doesn't mean it's given. So also you had another aspect about Tarkovsky's ideas?

JPS: For now, I'll try to answer firstly, quietly and only about "Bartleby the Scrivener", if you don't mind! 

JR: Okay, go ahead please. 

JPS: I wrote this text about two years ago. And I think this guy Bartleby was working in a lawyer office in Wall Street. We don't really know if he's a lawyer, a public notary or a bank-broker. And Bartleby, his clerk, was squatting in the office as he didn't have any place to stay, he is like homeless and he's staying in the office, and he's living there 24/7. He was sleeping under his desk and was eating only ginger cookies only that. And he was really like an hermit, a monk. And in fact, he reminded me of a friend, because when I was living in a farm, like 80 km from here, as I lived in a farm, as an hermit for ten years (1981 - 1991). And a friend of mine Auguste, was living near by, in a house, all by himself. He has been a fireman in Paris. He had a good life there and decided to retire to take care of this house. He was at the time, the keeper of the house (a former coach house), like a lighthouse guardian by the Ocean! And we used to talk almost every day as he was always walking to visit me with his white faithful and dearly loved dove on his shoulder.  

JR: A nice bird, Yeah, a white Colombe?

JPS: Yes, a white Colombe, and, in fact, he was the only human I used to meet, on a daily basis, and we end up getting really close friends. Unfortunately, at the end of his life, he end up exactly like Bartleby, in a psychiatric hospital. Because, in the book, the lawyer didn't have any other choice than to hospitalize him somewhere because he didn't want to move from his office. Even if made him some proposals for some other jobs as he asked him: "Bartleby, do you want to travel to Europe with some rich friends of mine?" But Bartley had always answered his famous motto: "I would rather not!" or "I would prefer not to!" That is his world famous sentence, response: "I would rather not!" And I'm also thinking, maybe artists are also like him: WE WOULD RATHER NOT DEAL WITH ALL THE SHEET OF THE WORLD! You understand? you understand? So there are between this Melville text and my personal story, a lot of deep connections between to be a true artist or to be an hermit living in the forest by yourself, it's all connected. And somehow I'm feeling like an 'hermit' in my studio, I don't know if that's an English word?


JPS: Because, de facto, I'm also working all by myself and to have met my friend Auguste and forty years later, to read and discover this novel with the nice and smart comments from Deleuze, about being an artist, being a resistant, being a creator, being an outsider, being a shaman… I'm going to read a few passages of this book, if you don't mind and if I could find it: Bartleby! so at one point in the book, the owner, the lawyer who is a really nice guy as he tried to help him proposing: "What do you really want to do? You want to eat something?" "No, no, I would rather not!", so he says about Bartleby. 


"And this is where Bartleby lives, the only spectator of a solitude he has seen all populated - a new, innocent Marius brooding over the ruins of Carthage!" 


So we get into mythological scene like as he seen the World disappeared, vanishing in front of him. He was telling about the Indians genocides, bison and whales and everybody gets killed at that time. And nowadays, it is even ten times worse because, even the earthworms, the smallest insects get killed. Every species, every first culture, everybody gets killed by human greed! 


"For the first time in my life, an overwhelming and poignant melancholy seized me. Until then, I had only ever felt a sadness that was not devoid of charm." 


You know, sometimes we are some kind of romantic, we like to look at poor people on the sidewalks; THOSE POOR PEOPLE… But here, he gets really deeply into the suffering and loneliness of Bartleby:


"But the bond of our common humanity threw me into an irresistible consternation. Brotherly melancholy! For Bartleby and I were both sons of Adam."


Yeah, we all are born from Adam, we are all brothers and sisters, somehow and we all are seeing each other getting destroyed, in front of us. I don't know if you know how many homeless people there are in Paris, it's getting very worrying You will see that when you go to Paris this week… And at one point, Melville says at the end of the book as the lawyer came for a last visit to Bartleby at the hospital:


"Bartleby!" So, Bartleby, reply:
- I know you," he said without turning round - "and I have nothing to say. [...]


You see, as he get fed up, he got fed up with the entire World!


-"I know where I am," he replied, but he would say nothing more and I left him. [...]
And then at the end, a little further on, after he has refused to eat for several weeks and his corpse is discovered lying on a bench in the courtyard:
"The bouncing face of the fricotier scrutinised me:
- His lunch is ready. He's not going to lunch today either? Would he live without eating?
- He lives without eating, I replied, and closed my eyes.
- And he sleeps, doesn't he? 
- With the kings and councilors, I murmured."


Bartleby sleeps with God, he is gone! He is happy where he is, because there were no interesting fights to fight for anymore… No fight, no game, that's it! And I think we are getting into a time period like this, it's true! As too many things are happening, all the time and all over the World simultaneously. All over there are wars… Compared to World War II, it was hard and horrible, but we knew, as Mankind, that at one point the war will be over. But now, we know that the Nature itself is going to be destroyed every day, at every instant. The climate is changing in a really bad and crazy way. So what can we do? That's a big and insolvent issue-question? That's why I like this crazy guy Bartleby so much, as he is a magnificent fighter!


"Drink water where the horse drinks.

A horse will never drink bad water.
Make your bed where the cat sleeps, you'll rest peacefully.

Eat fruit that has been touched by a worm, it's the healthiest.

Fearlessly pick mushrooms where insects land, because there's no poison.

Plant a tree where the mole digs, because it's fertile ground.

Build a house where vipers sun themselves, ice won't come.

Dig a well where birds hide from the heat, you'll find water there.

Fall asleep and rise at the same time as the birds, and you'll reap the golden grains of life.

Eat more green, and you'll have strong legs and a resistant heart, like the soul of a tree.

Look at the sky more often and talk less, so that silence enters your heart, your mind is calm and your life is filled with peace."

Mo-tse: "Parents, masters and kings are not the ones to take as models. 
But what is the model in imitation of which laws can be established? 
It is the Sky that we must imitate, The Sky acts universally, without partiality, its gifts are generous, its action permanent, always equal. In everything we do, we must model ourselves on the Sky." 


JR: It talks about melancholia; melancholia is really the medieval or earlier description of depression. That's the same thing we call depression. They called it melancholia. And there were attempts to find ways to remedy that through elixirs, etc.

JPS: Yes, but some romantic people, were really happy with melancholia…

JR: There is a charm in it to…

JPS: Like this specific German artist Caspar Friedrich.

- writers: Huysmans, Nerval, Leconte de Lisle 
- painters: Turner, Moreau
- poets: Shelly, Pouchkine, etc.

JPS: Let's stop here and maybe we will make a conclusion?



JR: Did you want to talk about Tarkovsky?

JPS: I do have a sentence to quote from him, sure. So yes, Johnes:

JR: There were also a reference in your Notes 2023 to Tarkovsky's book called "Sealed Time", which I'm not familiar with. And I'm very curious because this film work is very interesting. Was that more about his film work?

JPS: It's about what he's thinking when he is shooting some movies (about Art, literature, time, movies, actors..). I really love his movies. Even it's a long time since I have seen some of his movies, but he is really interesting as a creator... He is talking about books, about Nature, about Life... I mean, I have a few quotations from him here.

JR: I think of his work in terms of being situational. How people interact even in environments in the spaceship where one of the crew people thinks he sees his wife who passed away on the ship with him.

JPS: Which movie are you talking about? Anyhow, what is most important in Tarkovsky films, is that it's always filmed in nature most of the time. Nature with Fire, Water, Trees all the primary elements are there! It is a bit like the Terrence Malick did The New World, a really famous and very spiritual movie maker. So, Tarkovsky says:

"When I speak of the aspiration to beauty, (we were just talking about that) of the ideal as the ultimate goal of Art, which stems from an ardent desire for this ideal. I'm not suggesting for a moment that Art should flee the "dirt" of the world. On the contrary!"

That's some really important sentences. You know as it's going exactly in the direction to what I'm doing, because most people think that sexuality is the 'dirt of the world'. But you need to be talking about it, if you want to make Art, you need to use shit! you need to use piss! sex and death...! And, ultimately, there's no other way around. That's why Jheronimus Bosch is so important. You know, he's talking about all that! And there is a lot of humor also into his work. And, you cannot only simply hang a painting on the wall, as a decoration, and that's it! Goya painted the cannibals, it mean something, that's depicting a reality somewhere! And the books Tarkovski wrote are really interesting too...

JR: (I was thinking of his science-fiction film Solaris) So Tarkovsky is touching on the aspects of Thanatos and death and sexuality. Death and life and the persistence of continuity.

JPS: And memories, also memories about his childhood.

JR: Okay, that's very important now! Because, now things get to a point where the World becomes totally existential.

JPS: Yeah.

JR: From moment to moment, you don't know, if there's going to be a World anymore. And this is what's really scares me, and there's something that's not being addressed, in terms of what has been called the 'Monsters of the Id, the reptilian aggression that really is in the reptilian part of evolutionary the core of the brain. And that's what's, being allowed to flourish rather than Culture! Rather than Art! Rather than beauty and love and sexuality… There is an ALTERNATE WORLD, but it's not strong enough, by definition!

JPS: Yeah, but did that ever occur?

JR: And this is the true problem in the Art World, which is that people are so really frightened, forced into a state of fear. They can't reach across that, in order to understand the beauty of Culture and why that it is so important!

JPS: Yeah, Johnes, that is a really sad statement about the state of decay of our common cultural evolution.

JR: I am sorry, but this week, you know, I woke up being terrorized by things that are happening now in the World.

JPS: Because nowadays, there's this war between Palestine and Israel and Iran now, and still in Ukraine etc.

JR: We don't want the days of World to be numbered. You know, to see the achievements of civilization being just destroyed… vaporized… That's where we are. We're in the full danger of that, of extinction. And I wish there was some way we could send this out into the Universe. Like they did with the Pioneer Spacecraft… This is who and where we are! Here's some music that we did. Here are some drawings of figure of a female and a male, having sex and going out into the other parts of the Galaxy.

JPS: There is Art and pleasure too!

JR: Because, we might not be here, on Earth, anymore. They will come searching for us… We are living in some hard times.

JPS: Yeah, listen, you wanted to ask me any other question?

JR: Well, there's things that you had referenced, like Fernando Pessoa.

JPS: Well, I don't know where you had found this quotation? 

JR: I think it was on your "Polyphonies : Arts, Cultures & Civilizations" conference in 2022 :


JPS: Oh, maybe, because, I tried to read this book: "Le livre de l'intranquillité", in French, while I was in NY but I couldn't finish it. As I found it really boring to read, but maybe I should read it again… I think he's a nice guy, and an important writer.

JR: Well, here's an other quote, If you want to read it. That's a good quote from William S. Burroughs!

JPS: Which one? "What does the money machine eat? It eats youth, spontaneity, life, beauty and, above all, it eats creativity. It eats quality and craps quantity." Yeah, craps quantity, YES, THE MONEY MACHINE CRAPS SHIT PROFUSIONALLY! Yes, I really like this quotation….

JR: I have seen it in your Notes too. He was a prophet for me, yes!

JPS: And you did meet him also? No, but you met Ginsberg several times?

JR: Yeah.

JPS: Okay, I love to read all those Beat Generation poets, I mean, I love Kerouac as I must have read all of his books…


- Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
- Gary Snyder, Mountains and rivers without end 
- Ferlinghetti, Poetry, Art of insurrection
- Ginsberg, Indian Journals 
- Burroughs, The Yage Letters, etc.

JR: Oh, I did meet Burroughs (Naked Lunch), in fact; in Tangier, just briefly. He smiled at me as I had been on the ship with John Giorno (The American Book of the Dead) coming from New York to Casablanca. And he was going to see Burroughs and Brion Gysin (The Dream Machine) in Tangier. 

JPS: And he was also with Ginsberg?

JR: No, not Ginsberg.

JPS: Anyhow, he's talking about that trip in his diary, were I read about that trip to Morocco… Oh, Johnes you have such a life! I mean, it's such an honor to exchange with you!

JR: Well, it's a matter of time and a kind of synchronicity, which is one of my fortunes, but, nevertheless, I have been poor for the most part of my life…


JPS: Yeah, but that's meaning that having a good and interesting life is not always being rich, you know what I mean!

JR: Yeah, I had to get here.That was the most important thing I wanted to do. I don't want it to be the last thing in the world, so.

JPS: And you want to quote some other writers or?

JR: As you wish, because I have a list of some other ones, like The Snow Leopard

JPS: I found this one, because I know you are collecting and showing mostly outsider artists in your Azoth Gallery in New Haven. 

JR: No, some, it's a mix, yeah…

JPS: But, most of them are, I mean, a lot of them are outsider artists!

JR: Yeah!

JPS: Do you agree Johnes, every time I went to see some show at your Gallery, you got some crazy guys and they were doing great paintings… So, in respect for you, I wanted to quote Jean Dubuffet. 

JR: Oh, good. 

JPS: Because, he's the one who created Le Musée d'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland (the first Museum of Outsider Art in the World). It's really unfortunate that we can not go this time to visit it, you know. But anyhow, he said about Outsider Art: 

"I'm convinced that art has a lot to do with madness. Madness is a state of super mental health. Normal is psychotic. Normality means lack of imagination, lack of creativity." Jean-Dubufet


JPS: Those are really good sentences and maybe you would like to talk about the artists you've been showing or about something else?

JR: Well, this is something I've written about also. And I mean, it has to do with, how we perceive schizophrenia. And the problem is, it's ignored or believed to be something to be cured, so that the symptoms of symbolic understanding are just like washed away, you know? And the other problem, is that the way the behaviour are associated with schizophrenia, sometimes, like with Bartleby, he was not the sick man, he was, as you know, a doctor of the sick World, a sick America. And, in fact, his mentality and his intelligence was really just lost in the shuffle.

JPS: It's the same with Van Gogh and also Soutine and Modigliani; Soutine gets some troubles. You know a lot of artists are lost in history, that's the problem. Maybe the World is not done… It has not been done for us artists. That's why we are: 'de l'autre côté de lune'. We are on the other side, in the Moon's shadow. We are different.

JR: Sublunars

JPS: We are different, yes, and I want to quote Thomas Bernard. I don't know if you know the guy? He's talking about what artists are doing, most of the time. He was living in Vienna, Austria, were you just came from. And he really hated all the Viennese artists and art scene, he hate them! He said and, I really recommend that you all read this incendiary book:


"The painters didn't paint what they should have painted, but only what they were commissioned to paint, or what brought them money or fame,"

So, somehow it is true when you see artists who, like Rubens, Velasquez, Picasso and so on, you know, all those famous painters, they painted mostly for the power and the rich only (Churches, King, Princes etc.), most of the time. But they may not have had any other choices. Anyhow, you need to make money in order to continue your work and produce art in your studio…

JR: That's the tragedy of Van Gogh, and I frequently quote the first scene in Robert Altman's film "Vincent and Theo".

JPS: With Douglas Kirk Douglas? (I had mistaken with "Lust for Life" by Vincente Minnelli)

JR: No, it's Altman’s 1990 film which starts where Theo has come to Vincent's hovel, where he's living. Vincent is lying crashed out on his cot drawing on his pipe and just saying: "My life is shit. No one gives a damn about what I do, I could be dead, it doesn't matter. All my Art doesn't mean anything to anybody." And Theo keep saying: "wait, Vincent, wait, wait, wait." And Vincent keeps saying: "I'm waiting and I've been waiting all my life and nothing ever happened, NOTHING!" 

JPS: Exactly. 

JR: And what Altman did was so POWERFUL. He took the footage from the auction at Christie's and undercut the scene, with the soundtrack. So you see Christie's, you see the auctioneers: "We have this lot, this is Vincent van Gogh, Irises"…

JPS: What 20 million?

JR: Do I hear: 5 million… 10 million… 15… 20… 53 million!

JPS: So Altman did this movie? I haven't seen it unfortunately.

JR: And, it's heartbreaking, it really is. You know, we don't want to be in that time period forever. Where the understanding, the appreciation, the meaning of Art is dismissed in favour of nonsense that has no bearing on the inner meaning of Life, the inner meaning of reality. 

JPS: Exactly.

JR: What you're doing Jean-Pierre, here is very pertinent in terms of this, in terms of Life, in terms of experience, in terms of the meaning of the soul.

JPS: Oh, thank you, thank you very much. I really mean it. Thank you Jones, it's such a pleasure to have you here. 

JR: Thank you Jean-Pierre for inviting me and if you like to read some more, please do it… 

JPS: Oh you're welcome. I'm just going to finish to read some.

JPS: Yeah, I want to finish our talks with this None… that's the second time I'm finishing my interview with this woman and her name is Marguerite Porete. 

JR: Oh, yeah. 

JPS: "Le miroir des âmes simples et anéanties" which mean translated: "The Mirror of Simple, Lost and Destroyed Souls", of the lost souls, she was a woman, sorry, I didn't translate it in English but I will read it to you in French, I'm deeply sorry, it's happened like that but I will translate it in the video. 

JR: Yeah, sure, that's fine.

JPS: I'm sorry, so: 

"Marguerite Porete was a mystical Christian woman of letters from the beguine movement. Born around 1250, she was burnt [because she wrote this book] at the stake in Place de Grève in Paris, France, on June 1st 1310 with her book 'The Mirror of Simple Souls'. She is one of the martyrs of freedom of thought." (Wikipedia)


THE FREEDOM TO SPEAK! This is in the Chapter 85:


LOVE : This soul is free, 
More than free,
Perfectly free, 
Supremely free,
At its root,
In its trunk,
In all its branches
And in all the fruits
Of its branches."


For me, it's exactly the perfect definition of freedom and artists must be free, first and foremost anyhow and whatever happens to them! So thanks again Johnes for coming today, it was such a pleasure and I hope that people will enjoy our interview and I hope that we will have a nice day today; it's a bit sunny and we are going to have a late lunch together. Goodbye to everyone, I really hope you are doing fine, wherever you live… Johnes, see you soon my dear friend.

JR: What a pleasure and a joy in my life.

JPS: Thank you, and please say hello to Miguel Baltierra and the other friends in New York. 

JR: I will, of course…

JPS: Okay, that's the end my friends! good-bye!