BONNEFOY SAYS AU REVOIR TO ART SCENE
Paris, France – It was announced yesterday that self-made billionaire artist Francis Bonnefoy (32) will be taking what he terms a 'sabbatical' from the art world.
Bonnefoy, who graduated suma cum laude from … and holds a master's degree in fine arts from the Royal Academy of Arts in London – when he has lectured for five years, yesterday held a press conference in his home in Bordeaux, informing the public of his decision to take leave from his work as an artist; and most would say his senses.
The Parisian painter has taken a sabbatical from his work in order to "revaluate what [he] wants from his art, and what [he]needs to focus on in terms of bettering it." Several art critics say that if Bonnefoy leave the art world now, his work will not be welcome upon his return.
"His time is now," says an unnamed source close to the artist, "There won't be a market like this for him again"-
A weary, mildly exasperated sigh was let out slowly through the man's nose. He was quite fond of his nose. It had a prominent, sloping bridge and slightly flared nostrils, perfect for sighing through and finding trouble or gossip. He crumpled the page of newsprint and tossed it into the wastepaper basket with careless ease. It was for this exact reason that he was sitting in a coffee shop in Montreal, Canada with a sketchpad on his lap and a charcoal stick balanced between his fingers like a cigarette. His eye was out, his figures were bland. While technically perfect, his work was about as interesting and enthralling as basket-weaving; a pleasant activity, but nothing that would capture the heart, consume the mind or steal the breath from one's lungs.
While what he had told the newspaper reporters hadn't been a total lie, it wasn't the real reason he had left Paris. Yes, he was tired of the pressure, the clamouring for new work, for critique, the constant demands for more. Yes, art had become a job rather than a passion, and that was part of the problem. Picking up his coffee cup, he sipped at the bitter beverage, savouring the tasteless heat of it in his mouth and the way the flavour lasted for a few brief moments on his tongue like the lingering caress of a lover.
The sky was a patchwork canvas of a thousand greys that bulged around the restraints of the bare, skeletal trees that reached up, holding the rainclouds back. The thin, winter-sharp twigs threatened to pierce the sky and bring down the tears of heaven. Francis half wished that they would. Then he could sit outside in the rain and let misery seep through him in the same way as the water would.
Most would simply call it artist's temperament when he hurled his brushes to the floor and tossed his canvas from the second story window. Other's would call it melodrama when he tore at his hair and threw paint, turpentine and linseed oil at the wall, leaving a shattered, colourful chaos in his wake. He himself didn't dare go so far as to call his deep-seated, listless frustration depression, but he didn't know what else to call it. He was unhappy. The joy of his life had drained away, leaving an uninspired canvas full of drab neutrals and straightforward compositions.
He looked at his watch, then up at the monochrome ceiling of cloud. It was time to go. Sighing, he packed his sketchbook back into his bag, paid of his cup of coffee (and the four he'd drunk before that one) and walked a few blocks over to the industrial-looking warehouse stood. Here, he hoped against all hope, he could start again, rebuild this from the ground up. Rekindle the passion that had been sucked from the art he loved so much. Because as much as he hated to admit it, Francis Bonnefoy had lost his will to paint.
This anticlimactic statement is not nearly so theatrical as saying that he had lost his will to live, but it was very close to. Francis' live had been focused on producing paintings for so long that he didn't know what else he was supposed to do. If he couldn't paint, there was no point. It was what he lived for. In the same way as a doctor might live to make sick people better, or a comedian might live to make people laugh, Francis Jacques de Bonnefoy lived to paint. The thought that somewhere in the world, someone was looking at his work and that it was bringing a little bit of beauty into their lives made him happy. It made his own life worth-while. It also meant that once he hit a dry spell – that time every artist has when they feel like the anti-Midas – everything fell apart. He would start drinking, his love-hate relationship with nicotine would move towards love and he became quite possibly the worst house guest ever imaginable. But it was better than leaving him in his own company.
Francis alone and in one of his moods had been known to wreck houses, start fires, run riot, get himself and others arrested, and spend days at a time wandering the streets of the city. The problem was that no one knew when the moods started, or why, and because he lived alone (not that he spent a lot of time at home) it was difficult to tell when he started to feel the itch of the 'Everything I do is shit's.
Much though he had been encouraged by everyone around him, Marianne (his sister), his friends, his co-workers, even the grumpy Alice Kirkland who managed his career, he'd refused all kinds of medication. Be it for depression, anxiety, mood swings, BPD or bi-polar 2, he told everyone quiet firmly that he wasn't going to take a pill to stop being the way he had always been.
The warehouse was raw brick and messy cement. Corrugated iron and rusted metal fittings shed metallic flakes or dried blood on the grey slush that had a few days earthier been crisp snow. There were still a few patches of ice clinging tenaciously to the wet black tar that rolled like an eternal sea up to the steps of the so-called studio. The entire building looked like a hangover from eras past. This was what too much grunge and punk did to on place; left it dishevelled and wanting. Francis felt an odd sense of kinship with the brick and mortar before him. He too felt like a hangover; restless, nauseas, listless.
Watching his breath condense in the air for a while, the Frenchman steeled himself to go in there and draw. This was enforced. He must. He wanted so badly to want to paint. Maybe a few figure studies would kick start his drive. He had always favoured painting nudes. The beauty of the human body wasn't something that should be hidden behind the screen of clothes.
'You have a figure I would love to paint,' was a phrase he knew in almost every European language. It was his favourite pick-up line, especially at someone else's exhibition (he was mean enough to poach admirers from other artists with his prowess as both an artist and a lover) and it almost never failed. The free alcohol at most exhibitions probably helped a whole lot, too.
The cold of the iron door-handle bit into his palm, and he had to press his weight onto it to move to stiff metal. The door swung open with a tired groan, letting a blast of warm air move is hair back from his face. Warm, soft yellow greeted his eyes. Francis made a sheepish note to himself not to judge a book by its cover. There, he was learning already. He didn't linger in the door, not wanting to let the heat out – the model wouldn't thank him for that.
After a brief and forgettable muddle of hand-shaking and introductions that he wasn't going to bother remembering – he was here to draw, not make friends – he moved to a corner of the room, choosing to just let the model choose what he drew, and set up his easel.
Feeling a little like maybe this was going to be a disgusting waste of his time and money, Francis let out a deep sigh and looked up from his blank newsprint as the 'teacher' barked out,
"Three minute poses; non-dominant hand. Go!" and set a recording of some poor violinist someone had thought was talented shrieking in the background.
But Francis couldn't give a fuck about the chorus of feline-abuse in his ears or the fact that his arm was obeying the militaristic orders it had been given. He didn't care that his lips had parted in wonder. He didn't care that his eyes were wide. He was blatantly staring at the model, barely daring to blink. He was, without a doubt, the most beautiful man Francis had ever seen.
Long fingers were laced behind his head, covering shaggy blonde hair. His spine was arched away from the Frenchman, showing off the wings of his shoulder blades. His legs were set apart, weight resting on the back leg while the other was used for balance. The soft lighting cast him in gold. He was beautiful. Quietly confidant in his nudity, the way the skin of his shoulders creased showed a subtle scar across the bone, a welt, raised and silvery.
Muscles ripples and flexed beneath their fragile covering of skin as he moved, turning to face the awed Frenchman, head down as he balanced himself. His strong arms were set on his knee as he knelt, left leg stretched out behind him, right one set straight. He raised his face to look straight ahead, and Francis felt his heart thud in his chest, joy seeping through his system like an alcoholic buzz.
He had a slightly crooked nose with a narrow bridge that looked like it had been broken more than once. There were deep circles around his eyes that were almost the exact same shade of indigo as his wide irises. His lips weren't plush or soft-looking, they really looked like they needed some lip-balm, but they were a beautifully balanced cupid's bow. His cheeks slightly concave; the barest swoop from cheekbone to clean jaw.
Francis was barely sparing a second to look at the piece of paper he was drawing on – only enough time to ascertain that he wasn't butchering the angelic form before him – because it wasn't nearly as captivating as the man kneeling in front of him. The Frenchman had always considered, perhaps a little worryingly, that other people were objects to be drawn. Three-Dee images to be set to paper and canvas. But this man… there was a depth to his eyes and a strength to his pose that Francis wasn't quite willing to capture or tie down. But at the same time he wanted to have it for himself, a weak copy, but some semblance that would remind him of everything. The way this man boldly carried his own body, proud of it, his strength, stillness, silent confidence. This pure, utterly flawed perfection. The Frenchman could have wept for joy.
Francis Bonnefoy wanted to paint.
I write about a lot of things that I don't know about. The mafia, rock bands, getting married, doing drugs, being totally in love, being a man. So I decided, to hell with it. I'm going to do what 'they' say and write what I know. What I know is art. I take three classes a week and teach another. I've auctioned and sold work, and I've been working on my drawing and painting skills constantly for 14 years, hopefully within the next decade, I will have a master's degree in Fine Arts.
So, this is what I know. I'd like to know what you think.