Fantasy Conversation with Henri Matisse


Pygoya, 1980



Henri Matisse: (1908) ... Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the various elements at the painter's disposal for the expression of his feelings. ... All that is not useful in the picture is detrimental. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety; for superfluous details would, in the mind of the beholder, encroach upon the essential elements.

Pygoya: Yes, parsimony is also important in art as it is in science in order to preserve clarity of work.

Matisse: My choice of colors does not rest on any scientific theory; it is based on observation, on feeling, on the very nature of each experience.

Pygoya: that's how I select colors for my drawings too.

Matisse: What interests me most is neither still life nor landscape but the human figure. It is through it that I best success in expressing the nearly religious feeling that I have towards life. I do not insist upon the details of the face. I do not care to repeat them with anatomical exactness.

Pygoya: A camera can do this with less perspiration. For me a camera is an alternative contemporary paintbrush. I plan on experimenting with large photosilkscreens as background field (analogous to the blank white canvas) upon which to compose painted in geometric symbols, such as the circle and triangle, simultaneously compositionally fused with the background photograph (external reality) and distinctly separate enough to maintain their visual autonomy from the background picture.

Matisse: What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental soother, something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue.

Pygoya: What I dream of is an art that excites, challenges, and expands the awareness of possible realities. Of course, I only see art as a tool for positive good, including "soothing" art therapy. But this noble cause for art should not be carried out by blindfolding ourselves to the harsh realities of today's troubled times. A global holocaust, for example, has been predicted by some experts to occur in 20 years (2000) Are we artists to just sit around and paint soothing pretty things? Or are we just as liable as the greed in power around the globe for not applying our unique creative abilities with social and moral responsibility?

Matisse: You may have a point there.

Pygoya: Thanks.