I met Putney in summer 2016. A vast green lawn thrown on a bumpy hill, under a sunny blue sky. A flawless postcard. I came back a few months later, invited by John Burt and Simon Renault for an art residency in the well-named SunHill farm. First, I thought this retreat would be the perfect opportunity to pursue my research about the art of portraiture.
Then I started to learn about Vermont, the back-to-the-land movement, the strong rural communities which attract more and more city dwellers in need of fresh air. Many thinkers, from ancient times, wrote about this longing for nature. But today as the word ecology has become a humanitarian issue, it seems that people who decided to live their life in the wild and on a more human scale, made a political choice.
The desire of the civilized to escape civilization is for a large part sentimentalism and romanticism, but I will quickly discover that this way of life goes beyond bucolic pictures.
John Berger, after settling in to a French village, realized that « peasants are the bearers of a unique continuity of the human experience. » So I got ready to reconnect with the texture of the world and its permanent values : slow pace, patience, hope endlessly renewed. Words that sound very familiar to a painter. I always had the intuition of a brotherhood between the painter and the farmer, who both grow life from dirt.
I rendered my experience through the diary I wrote with my broken English, the photographs I took, the sketches I drew while I was in Putney. When I came back to my studio in Boston, I made the oil paintings. Each medium expresses something about my encounters. All together, words, drawings, paintings compose a patchwork. A portrait made of many pieces, a story translated in several languages. Here is a selection of this large project.