All artists are vain, they long to be recognised and to leave something to posterity. They want to be loved, and at the same time they want to be free. But nobody is free.
An illustrational form tells you through the intelligence immediately what the form is about, whereas a non-illustrational form works first upon sensation and then slowly leaks back into the fact.
Before I start painting I have a slightly ambiguous feeling: happiness is a special excitement because unhappiness is always possible a moment later.
Even within the most beautiful landscape, in the trees, under the leaves the insects are eating each other; violence is a part of life.
Flesh and meat are life! If I paint red meat as I paint bodies it is just because I find it very beautiful.
Ham, pigs, tongues, sides of beef seen in the butcher’s window, all that death, I find it very beautiful. And it’s all for sale – how unbelievably surrealistic!
I don’t think people are born artists; I think it comes from a mixture of your surroundings, the people you meet, and luck.
I have been lucky enough to be able to live on my obsession. This is my only success.
I have no moral lesson to preach, nor any advice to give.
I need the city; I need to know there are people around me strolling, arguing, fucking – living, and yet I go out very rarely; I stay here in my cage.
I often imagine that the accident that made man into the animal he has become also happened to other animals – lions or hyenas for example – while man remained a primate. What would have happened? It’s bizarre, I have never read anything about it, by Darwin or anyone else. Perhaps it’s science fiction, but it’s very interesting. I imagine men hanging in butcher’s shops for hyenas, who would be dressed in fur coats. The men would be hung by their feet, or cut up for stew or kebabs.
I paint for myself. I don’t know how to do anything else, anyway. Also I have to earn my living, and occupy myself.
I should have been, I don’t know, a con-man, a robber or a prostitute. But it was vanity that made me choose painting, vanity and chance.
Images also help me find and realise ideas. I look at hundreds of very different, contrasting images and I pinch details from them, rather like people who eat from other people’s plates.
I’ve no story to tell.
My painting is a representation of life, my own life above all, which has been very difficult. So perhaps my painting is very violent, but this is natural to me.
My painting is not violent; it’s life that is violent.
Painting can be as violent as fucking, like an orgasm or an ejaculation. The result is often disappointing, but the process is highly exciting.
Painting gave meaning to my life which without it it would not have had.
Picasso is the reason why I paint. He is the father figure, who gave me the wish to paint.
Picasso was one of that genius caste which includes Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh and above all Velázquez.
Picasso was the first person to produce figurative paintings which overturned the rules of appearance; he suggested appearance without using the usual codes, without respecting the representational truth of form, but using a breath of irrationality instead, to make representation stronger and more direct; so that form could pass directly from the eye to the stomach without going through the brain.
Some artists leave remarkable things which, a 100 years later, don’t work at all. I have left my mark; my work is hung in museums, but maybe one day the Tate Gallery or the other museums will banish me to the cellar…you never know.
The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.
The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.
The men I painted were all in extreme situations, and the scream is a transcription of their pain.
This is the artist’s privilege – to be ageless.
Velázquez found the perfect balance between the ideal illustration which he was required to produce, and the overwhelming emotion he aroused in the spectator.
We are born with a scream; we come into life with a scream, and maybe love is a mosquito net between the fear of living and the fear of death.
We live, we die and that’s it.
What is called Surrealism has gone through art at all times. What is more surreal than Aeschylus.
When I paint I am ageless, I just have the pleasure or the difficulty of painting.
You can’t be more horrific than life itself
You could say that I have no inspiration, that I only need to paint.
You see, painting has now become, or all art has now become completely a game, by which man distracts himself. What is fascinating actually is, that it’s going to become much more difficult for the artist, because he must really deepen the game to become any good at all.