In memory of philosopher Marcel Paquet

Some of the encounters we have on our journey — even if they don’t last too long — can leave major impact on our lives. Call them serendipitous or magical— what makes them so distinct is probably the feeling you experience as a result. A feeling of being somehow connected to that person in a mysterious way, even before you met. A feeling of knowing that you are on the right path, and things are unfolding in beautifully unpredictable and surprising ways.

This is how I felt when I met Marcel Paquet, who was a philosopher and enthusiastic supporter of many great artists of our times. He was friends with René Magritte and Joan Miró, Bram Bogart and Alexander Calder, Corneille and Jean Dubuffet, Fernando Botero and Paul Delvaux. I feel privileged to have listened to Marcel’s stories, or “anecdotes”, how he used to call them, about his encounters with these and some other artists. Stories about the success of his Brussels-based art gallery that he used to have in the 80s, his visits to Joan Miró’s studio, and his friendship with Patrick Waldbergh, an art historian and writer about Surrealism, who, according to Marcel, played an important role in fueling his interest in art. 

    Photo courtesy of Anna Wilczynska-Paquet

 

Photo courtesy of Anna Wilczynska-Paquet

Today Marcel Paquet would be turning 68 years old.

For me, it’s the day when I want to honour this great friend and philosopher, and remember the short time during which I knew him.

Having first visited an art gallery that Marcel Paquet used to have in Biarritz, France, I then met him in person in May 2013, when he came to look at my paintings in my house near Brussels. During the year and a half that followed, we developed a tradition: whenever I sent him a photo of my recently finished painting, he would react with a text — managing to put into words the forces and feelings which had given birth to my art. 

Today, I would like to share with you these beautiful words written by Marcel Paquet. I hope they can open up a whole new way of looking at art for you as well:

The painter is not simply someone who looks and who sees. Above all, the artist is someone who exposes a personal vision by rendering it visible. The painter shows or allows the seeing of “something” that without him, without his intervention, would not be seen. He manifests through his work a possibility of seeing that would otherwise remain latent. In other words, painting is an art that reveals or unveils the world from an angle that the world itself does not present to us.

Painting creates. It does not limit itself to imitation or reproduction. Any desire to confine painting within the limits of déjà vu would be a gross misunderstanding of the essence of what painting is. Painting allows us to see that which without it would never be seen.
— “Botero: philosophy of the creative act”, 1992, Marcel Paquet

When I listened to Marcel’s stories about some of the great artists he knew personally — René Magritte, Jean Dubuffet, Alexander Calder, Andre Masson, Paul Delvaux, Fernando Botero, Sophia Vari, Bram Bogart, Corneille — I felt like I could magically access, almost touch several decades of the 20th century art. 

During my farewell visit to see Marcel in Poznan in November 2014, two weeks before he passed away, I met his wife, artist Anna Wilczynska-Paquet, and had a rare privilege of asking him some questions about his encounters with some contemporary artists. What remains from my last visit is a recording of Marcel’s story about his interest in the arts, and how he met such artists as René Magritte and Joan Miró. I am planning to make this recording publicly available later this year. 

Marcel also wrote an essay about my art, and several months later, another short text which relates his views on my progress as an artist. Both texts are available for publication by a French-speaking arts magazine, and I am currently looking for editors who would be interested to publish these texts. 

If you are interested to learn more about Marcel Paquet and his work, please visit the links below:

In English:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Paquet

In French:

Wikipedia: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Paquet

Obituary by Editions de la Difference: http://www.ladifference.fr/LETTRE-DECEMBRE-2014-IN-MEMORIAM.html#lettre3467