After many years of friendship I wanted to make another film with Arié, a sort of portrait of the painter 20 years later. Not to explain the unexplainable, or introduce anything lacking in the first movie, but just return to the central question of the nature of painting, of what a painter is? Which amounts to asking: what is a man? How to film painting, the act of painting? And when I ask “what is a painter?” it’s my own question coming back at me like a ping-pong ball or a boomerang: what are film-makers and what do they do?
This question was bothering me again, I was determined to have another go at it, and dispose of it for good. Easier said than done. I got tied up in repetitions, but as we know, things never stay the same. With the patina of time, the original alters, its features get lined, splitting into a thousand facets, like excrescences, variants or variations, in the musical sense of the term.
Twenty years ago I thought an artist could never be filmed in the act of painting, and that every movie claiming to do so was faking it, because to make art we must be alone with ourselves, with no one watching and above all no camera. That’s why at the end of the shoot he tries to paint me, the only possible subject, the person filming him. But I had simply displaced the impossibility: we don’t see what he’s painting, just the gestures he makes...
Is he now so accustomed to my presence that I’ve become completely transparent? Invisible, unseen by him? Or has he just accepted the idea of being watched?