samedi 27 août 2011

Just facts (version française en bas de page)

Facts and just facts

Facts. Just plain facts. Easy to check them up. Just come along when I'm painting outside.

We’ve been painting outdoors for a week; just opposite the 5/5 bar, a stone throw from the most congested roundabout in Mamoudzou, right in front of the landing of the ferry, fifty yards away from the covered market place and five days away from the end of Ramadan. Lots of people one way or the other and us in the middle. Two artists working together, I, 63, white, rather rotund, and him, in his late skinny thirties, a cross between a Zimbabwean mother and a Dutch father, and Rasta man on top of that. First fact.

People coming and going give us a fairly good idea of Mayotte; 90% of them are black and the remaining 10 are white. Some of them stop and watch; many don’t.

I’ll be talking only of people who didn’t know us prior their gazing.

Out of ten Wazungu (white folks) who stop by six or seven of them are women and three or four are men.

Out of ten black people who stop by nine are men; perhaps nine and a half.

Out of ten male Wazungu who stop by more than half of them make an appreciative comment on our work; more than that if our eyes meet.

In the case of female Wazungu this proportion is about the same.

Out of ten black males who stop by seven or eight will smile, say hello or/and make an appreciative comment; on condition our eyes meet. Confronted with our paintings they ignore us at worst and show interest at best. At least as long as we don’t mention prices.

Local females, in the same situation, at best look at our work, head turned sideways, while keeping walking; at worst they inspect what we do, toffee-nosed like and still walking and look quickly and ostensibly away as soon as our eyes meet. Ignoring our paintings is not enough; they make sure we see them ignoring us.

Local male worthies (dressed up, fluent French, big car, double or triple lined parking, seasoned habits at the 5/5 bar) treat us about the same way as their women do. Indifferent, vaguely scornful, silent.

Local male bumpkins are easily curious, smiling, mocking in a friendly way and they ask questions.

There’s little difference between young and old males acting, but for the fact perhaps that young male laugh more often. Younger females tend to show more interest than their elders and giggle more.

One last notice; During our week of work we had a good many compliments and friendly words on our painting from plain ordinary people of the street selling type but we haven’t been once approached by an art teacher.

Conclusions of all that? I sure have my own but I keep them for myself. You’ll have to manage with that.

Love to you all.

Des faits ; rien que des faits. Facilement vérifiables ; il suffit de m’accompagner à une séance de peinture en public.

Depuis une semaine nous peignons en public ; juste à la sortie du 5/5, à deux pas du rond point le plus congestionné de Mamoudzou, à la sortie de la barge, à cinquante mètres du marché couvert et à cinq jours de la fin du ramadan. Beaucoup de monde dans un sens ou dans l’autre et nous au milieu. Deux artistes qui travaillons conjointement, moi blanc, soixante trois ans, courtaud et rondouillard, lui, la trentaine maigrichonne, métissé hollando zimbabwéen et rasta de surcroit. Premier fait.

Les gens qui passent à gauche et à droite de nous donnent une bonne idée de Mayotte ; quatre vingt dix pour cent sont noirs et dix pour cent sont blancs. Certains s’arrêtent, beaucoup ne s’arrêtent pas.

Je ne parle ici que des gens qui ne nous connaissent pas et qui s’arrêtent quand même.

Sur dix wazungu qui s’arrêtent six ou sept sont des femmes, trois ou quatre sont des hommes.

Sur dix noirs qui s’arrêtent, neuf sont des hommes ; peut-être neuf et demi.

Sur dix wazungu mâles qui s’arrêtent plus de la moitié fait un compliment sur le travail ; plus si nos regards croisent les leurs.

La proportion est à peu près la même si les wazungu sont des femmes.

Sur dix hommes noirs qui s’arrêtent sept ou huit vont faire un sourire, un bonjour ou/et un compliment. Même s’il n’y a pas communication visuelle.

Sur dix femmes qui s’arrêtent une, quelque fois deux vont faire un hochement de tête ou un compliment. A condition qu’il y ait échange de regards.

Confrontés à nos tableaux les hommes d’ici, au pire nous ignorent et au mieux s’y intéressent aimablement. Du moins jusqu’à ce qu’on leur parle du prix.

Dans la même situation les femmes d’ici, au mieux regardent les dessins qu’on a fait, la tête sur le côté, tout en continuant à marcher ; au pire détaillent les tableaux en levant le nez et regardent ostensiblement ailleurs sitôt qu’elles nous voient les regarder. Ignorer nos tableaux ne suffit pas ; elles nous font voir qu’elles les ignorent. Le prix n’est même pas discuté puisque le tableau, s’il les intéresse, doit leur être offert.

Les indigènes mâles faisant partie de l’élite (bien habillés, français correct, grosse voiture, bureau secondaire au 5/5, parking en double ou en triple file) ont à peu près le même comportement que leurs consœurs, que celles-ci fassent ou non partie de l’élite. Indifférents, vaguement méprisants, pas loquaces.

Les indigènes mâles du tout venant, les gens simples et les ploucs sont quant à eux curieux, souriants ou goguenards, et poseurs de questions.

Les jeunes femmes et jeunes filles semblent plus intéressées par nos dessins que leurs mères ; quel que soit le statut.

Peu de différence entre les jeunes hommes et les plus vieux, sinon peut-être que les jeunes se marrent davantage.

Une dernière remarque. En cinq jours nous avons eu beaucoup de réflexions aimables sur notre travail, de la part des gueux, des va nu pieds, des matsaha vendeurs d’oignons ; nous n’avons par contre été approchés par aucun prof d’arts plastiques.

Les conclusions de tout ça ? J’ai les miennes bien sur ; je ne vous en fais pas part ; pas pour l’instant. Débrouillez-vous avec ça.

samedi 13 août 2011

underwater raving

English title and English text. So there. All in consideration for my good old Australian mate Rod. He used to speak a little French thirty five years ago but lost it all in oblivion. Something to do with old age, maybe, and total lack of practice, surely. Anyway I'm going to write in English for some time from now on. See what happens. It should keep my English in shape in any case. And please my Australian fans. As for the other ones, the ones who speak French and only French, they have been treated very weel I should think for the past four years and they have treated me with so few nice and encouraging comments in return that I honnestly don't care that much for what they're thinking of me for the moment. Let them simmer a while in their own rancid juice; that'll teach them. If they fell on their knees and implored me to switch back to a language they coul understand, or, better still if they wrote me a cheque I'd see what I could do. But since the French have been giving me the irrits for some time French will now wait for a while and that's how it is.

Well, as everyone can see, this picture is an underwater painting. Nowhere else could one see fish but underwater and that's proof enough. It hasn't been done underwater but in my studio, after I saw something vaguely looking like that composition during one of my underwater frolics. All I had to do back home was to reproduce the shape as best as I could, with a lot of clear and dark blue, using palette knives instead of soft brushes, add some fish, naturally, and there we are.

Curiously I'm not that good at making above water landscapes in such an imaginative way. For me a tree is a tree and should damn look like a f... tree, while a piece of rock or a chunk of coral can look like just about anything I please provided it looks good. I feel freer (or is it more free ?) with underwater stuff. The subject I paint doesn't matter so much; it's what I feel that matters.
I can't do it all the time though; I'm not that free and besides people who buy paintings around here want pictures that remind them of what they liked best during their stay in Mayotte and I need their money.

The Comoros underwater and the Comoros above waters... Story to be continued. See you soon.