From 1991 to 1994, my concept of still life completely changed. My thought then was all about pretty fruits on the table, but yes, it was not a good thought. Two or three years after I left Mario Calixte’s studio for a new adventure with artists Gary Laurent and Michel Jean-Robert, I understood the true philosophy behind Still Life. Objects like fruits and flowers, animals, dishes, essentially anything arranged in a pleasing composition to paint is a still life.
I do like Paul Cezanne’s Still Life with Skull (1898). It is an example of an unusual arrangement of a human skull and fruit that contrasts life and death in Colour and subject. Still life was first introduced by the Ancient Egyptians it was all about death, compared to the Ancient Romans who loved still life and painted still life everywhere – on the streets, in public places, in churches, in large transparent glass bowls. To me, this was like luxury, which is how I found myself as a street artist in the early 2000s – see below.
It was my pleasure to get these types of commissions where the public passed by called you Atis la meaning the Artist. “Can I bring you drinks and food, take pictures” and so on. I was happy enough, until someone looked at me with a sad face about my wasting talent as a street artist. Perhaps I needed to do more, and decided to learn how to expand my knowledge and techniques.
Years later, I travelled to Birmingham, England, and visited several art galleries and museums. I learned about contemporary artists like Belgian artist Michaël Borremans, and British artists Damien Hirst and Banksy, and a whole new world of art and artists opened up to me. I am grateful for that opportunity, and every day I push myself to do more and do better.