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Meeting with an artist: Florent Farges

In its portraits, Sennelier honors some of its favorite artists. Artists from all over the world and with singular universes. To continue this series, discover the portrait of Florent Farges, French artist specialized in oil painting.

Can you tell us about your artistic background? 

My path has not been linear, far from it! My current work is the result of multiple experiences, it is a formal meeting between art and philosophy, in particular with the existentialist movement which influenced my work a lot. Mainly self-taught, I came to fine arts late, after having hesitated a lot during my studies between art and philosophy. Not fitting into any mold, it is this second option that I chose: I put art aside to study philosophy. The reading of thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jonas or even Levinas has deeply marked my thinking. This existentialist influence can be found today in my paintings, through the themes I like to explore: the absurd, anguish, death, good and evil, responsibility, otherness, presence, the face. During all these years of study, philosophy, however clearly articulated, always seemed to me to lack something. A form of power was constantly escaping it: this poetic and creative power that I found in Caravaggio. Everything was too verbal, there was a lack of matter. Thinkers lacked the evocative power of the Italian masters, capable of speaking with forms. It was then that the evidence of drawing and painting once again imposed itself on me: ideas had to be given form. I had to learn to paint by myself, late in life. At the same time, I started to share my work on the internet, especially through videos on YouTube which helped me to become known. That's where it all started. 

 What do you like the most about oil painting?

Oil painting is my favorite technique by far, so much so that I find I am more effective with a brush than with a pencil and eraser. Although my compositions are complex and require a lot of thought, I increasingly skip the preparatory steps and start sketching the design directly on the canvas with the brush. I let the paint tell me what to do... this is one of the major assets of oil: its great versatility and spontaneity. Sometimes inspiration comes from a random brushstroke, one gesture leads to another, one touch calls for another and the painting is built instinctively. It is a feeling that one can only have by daring to throw oneself on the canvas, with a brush in hand. Oil allows you to jump in blindly and transform chaos into inspiration. Of course, not everything works on the first try and I have to make many repentances while working this way. But that's the price to pay and, fortunately, oil paint lends itself very well to retouching. 

 In your opinion, what is the most important art material for an artist and why?  

The most important thing for a painter is to have a high quality paint, of the right consistency and opacity. Each stroke is unique and reacts to the pressure of the brush, unique each time. I paint a lot indirectly, fresh on dry, and my work relies heavily on alternating between opaque and transparent passages, between impasto and glaze. Of course, you have to master the mediums to combine thick pastes and glazes, but it is above all the quality of the paint that indicates which pigment will lend itself better to a transparent veil or to an opaque layer. You can't force paint to do what is against its nature, you have to know its pigments and trust its qualities.

Do you have a favourite colour or art material? 

Light cobalt turquoise (PG50) is the tube I never go without. Not only is it a very useful color for cool tones, but it's also a remarkable opaque and particularly light cyan. I compare it to a cadmium yellow, in terms of usefulness, but on the other side of the color wheel. There is some confusion in our lexicon about this shade, halfway between green and blue, for me it is neither a blue nor a green but a cyan. It is not a light blue, in the same way that an orange is neither a light red nor a dark yellow, it is a shade in its own right.Anyway, this light turquoise is incredibly useful, between blue and green. Not only does this pigment allow me to complete the color wheel with a quality cyan, but it also allows me to bring incredible shades in flesh tones because it is a near perfect complement to red. In short, if skin tones turn too red, a little touch of light turquoise brings incredible subtle shades. If you have never tried this pigment, especially for portraits, I can only recommend it. 

How do you set up your palette of colours?

As part of my online teaching and to enhance the resources of my site with a real color tool for painters, I have created my own color system. It is a complete system combining hues, values and chroma (or saturation). To make this system more than just an abstract set of color wheels, I have included the major pigments around the color wheel. So when you refer to the wheel, you can easily see which pigment is close to which hue. This is a very handy system that I often refer to when I need to create an unusual color and don't know which pigment to choose. It is also from this color wheel system that I developed my standard palette: for me, the most important thing is that the colors are well balanced and that there are no "holes", especially in the cyan and magenta. I also choose my colors according to their opacity or transparency or their drying time according to the needs.

 Tell us more about your style and your influences. 

My main artistic influences are found in the Baroque, especially in Tenebrism and Caravaggio. As for traditional painting, I also draw a lot of inspiration from Symbolism and Pre-Raphaelism of the nineteenth century. However, I was born in the age of the technological explosion and, of course, I also draw a lot of inspiration from the visual worlds around me: whether it's deep sky photos from the Hubble telescope, digital images or special effects seen in movies or video games, I am attracted to the modern exploration of color and form. I try to situate myself on the border between tradition and modernity: Through a classical pictorial approach and timeless techniques, I propose subjects whose scope extends beyond our contemporaneity. My themes are derived from existentialist philosophy: my compositions, visually realistic, invite reflection on the very foundations of human reality. Through the intrusion of the imaginary into the real, I try to probe the mystery of our existence.

 What’s the best thing about being an artist today? And the most challenging one? 

The best part of being an artist is the same today as it has always been: Art. It is in itself a satisfaction to produce art every day. It is the humble attempt to leave this world a little less ugly than we found it, it is a token of personal fulfillment, not happiness, that is too big a word, but the realization of one's potential. It is a feeling of fulfillment that, fortunately, overcomes the many difficulties of what being an artist represents. The art world is still a difficult place to break into for emerging artists; it is, again and again, the dilemma of the private club that only accepts the regulars. However, the artists of the twenty-first century have the great luck to have the internet to make themselves known. For those who use the platforms wisely, opportunities are numerous, even for young artists without networks. 

 Do you have an advice to share with beginners?  

My advice for those who want to start is to make sure that you can create your art regardless of the circumstances. This means that the most important thing should always be to create your art, honestly and truly, even if nothing sells, even if it's not successful. What matters, above all, is to create. If that means holding down a food job for the first ten years and painting in your spare time, so be it! If that means taking drawing classes to pay for your materials, so be it! If that means waiting for recognition that doesn't come, so be it! You have to be independent enough to survive on your own and understand that you have to be patient and never give up. The most important thing is to have a plan. Once you have a plan in mind, all you have to do is believe in it, believe in your art and success will come in due time. 

 Can you tell us about your actualities, your future projects? 

The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply marked my most recent paintings. In the infinite complexity of a world indifferent to its fate, human existence is torn, abused, subjected to a severe test. Many of the problems encountered during this painful time echo themes that I frequently address in my paintings. I try to use art to sublimate the most difficult ordeals, to give meaning to what seems devoid of it.Paradoxically, this period has been very productive for me and I am trying to focus on creating paintings and online content with, why not, online events like virtual exhibitions or live streams from my studio. In parallel to the creation of my paintings, I have many projects related to online teaching: I have a new drawing course in preparation whose concept is to allow self-taught, from home, at your own pace. Finally, on YouTube, if I have enough time this year, I would like to open a second channel, entirely French-speaking, to share my studio secrets and talk about painting and drawing in general. 

Follow Florent Farges on :

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/florentfarges.arts/ 
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/c/FlorentFargesarts 
Website : https://www.florentfarges.com/ ;