Denis Frémond, you were born in Versailles in 1951.
In no way, no, I was born in 1950, in Le Havre.
Sorry! Your father was a famous Spanish poet, I believe.
Oh no, my father was a bull matador in a consulting firm on the harbor of Hambourg.
Very good…Hambourg, then, I will note that. Okay. Your mother was a windsurfer, a native from an ethnic group of central Asia… 
If you wish, I am not contrary to that idea, you know. Well you are right to joke, these biographies are useless and most of the time boring as well. We are such serious people, us painters, with our litanies of exhibitions, shows, and private collections. Yet people wish to know the painter, his origins, his development of thought, his sources of inspiration…Write down: “bourgeois” origin (upper-middle class).
You have moreover published a work consecrated to color paste, notably proving how ridiculous the red ochre color is….
Oh no, it’s not me, no…but I would agree with this, the red ochre color is completely ridiculous. No, I have on the other hand worked on a huge study treating the notion of “toaster”.
There are not many toasters in your painting.
At the time, I had thought about proposing to the Opera of Paris, in order to replace the Chagall ceiling, the project of a gigantic “still life” of a toaster. But you know how this works in the large institutions; it is all about who you know in these circles…
We can equally note the total absence of mopeds in your paintings, your characters are never on a motorcycle, is that your final decision?
No, I had never even noticed that, you see, this is involuntary. But painters need others to look from the outside, to step back; and I have taken into account, in the past, the comments I would hear. I can quote to you the case of one person, at the beginning of my career, who made me realize that I would only paint coats. For the following exhibition, I paid attention to this detail. 
Perfect. How did you become a painter?
By a process of elimination…after finishing “l’Ecole Polytechnique”, I entered into a team of young lads at a prestigious stud farm, raising race horses in lower Normandy, but in the end I really did not know where I was going. I then directed for one season a variety show of the Paris Casino, then I directed for 4 years a little company that made stools, and I eventually embarked on board the military vessel the “Jeanne-d’Arc” as a bugler.
Why finally a painting career?
That’s a good question. Actually, one asks himself what would push someone to become a painter. Why are there so many painters? Why would you absolutely want to spread color paste on a tight canvas? It’s ridiculous.
To completely change the subject : I have heard that “approximate” is your favorite word.
Oh really?...”Approximate”?
Yes, “approximate”, that’s what they told me.
My favorite word…yes, it is a word that I really like, but “moped” is not bad either, and “coat” especially, was my favorite one for a long time during the 70’s and 80’s. Well, it’s true that “approximate”, once coupled with other words, creates varied and interesting combinations, for example with “engineer”, with “philosophy”, with “dust”, etc…But it’s a word that has need of others. “Coat” is funny in itself. It designates an object that we really don’t care about; its being a coat means nothing…Are you interested in the coat idea?
You see.
Therefore…”approximate” ultimately is not your favorite word.
An “approximately retired” person, it’s funny… What about an approximate painter? No, the combination does not work as well. However, in combination with “vibraphone player”, you immediately picture a calamitous guy standing behind his instrument: it’s visual; but as a matter of fact, it is not really a criterion for quality. The more abstract it is, the better. “Approximate dust”, it’s cool.

This photo intrigues me, what is it about?
It is a miniscule study, roughly 7 x 10 cm; we can very well see the tracing of this image on the canvas. I experimented with a cold dominant color: blue. I told myself: one day I am going to rework this on a very large surface with the same spontaneity and finish.
This study dates back how many years?
5 or 6 years… What I did in this small format, I can’t manage to do it again in a large format. Here I am more or less staying on the surface of the canvas, even if I have not completely abolished the depth. It seems to me that my works of art give too much importance to this depth, to the perspective, to the details…
The mystery of your painting rests exactly on this depth, does it not?
I don’t know, no…well, maybe. But the reality can usually undergo very well the stylizations and various simplifications that art imposes on it. Without going all the way to Nicolas de Staël (God rest his soul), I should be able to tame somewhat my impulses for depth and perspective, all the while conserving the essential. 

Tell us about this period.
During my childhood, I was surrounded by a high level of impulses for the naval and aero forces. I had to evacuate this burden as an adult. This is the way that I did it, I would have done it through literature if I could have, but it was necessary that I write tales for the amateurs of sailing, cruses and planes.
Why did it not happen?
No, I… I was under the influence of Harold Pinter, a writer of eliptical plays about the ambiguity of human relations.
Do you write?
My potential as a writer resided in Harold Pinter, I would not have been gifted to write fantasy tales.
I understand…you decided you would rather paint.
Yes…even if I have to do these types of paintings.





Interview: Denis Frèmond

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