Born in a family of painters, I followed a strict and rigorous pictorial education, during which I copied the traditionalists, then American colourists.

This ultra-traditional practice gave me an important technical base. And from my artistic family culture I received an abundance of pictorial information and knowledge.

I continued my studies while pursuing the goal of full potential in painting.

Since 1996 I have directed my painting in a special research orientation: Abstraction.

I have learnt through the history of Art that the artists of all movements have pursued the conquest of freedom in their work. It is their ardour for freedom that I have pursued.

By copying I learnt the thoughts and the technique of the masters. This is a difficult but essential constraint because it denies the self creativity.

Painting is for me, a life development, an evolution, a path to excellence, to freedom.

With moments of doubts, fear, impatience, pleasure, success and determination...

My self-creativity went first of all through the technique of the colourist. Although that in itself was alluring I was looking for something different.

I then worked 2 years with the colours of Turner, after having been introduced to his 3 last paintings, at the Tate Gallery. He is for me the beginning of abstraction.

 The paintings I made with the reference of Turner were successful but I realised that I was only beginning the journey to my abstraction.

I thus began intense research into the abstraction concept.

For a long time, I worked in this direction but I wasn’t reaching what I was looking for.

All seemed so confusing, the meaning of things, the values of the paintings and the validity of my approach. The space was too vast to be conquered. I was discouraged.

 

My mother told me a sentence she had learned from her father and I displayed in my studio for years without understanding its meaning.

"Not concerning yourself with the result of an action favours the acquisition of the mastery".

 

When I was able to abandon the desire to be "a good painter" I realized that I would be what I am. In fact, all this was a long period of de-constructing the learning and domestication of my ego.

I had to abjure all my personal references to reveal at the sense of my painting.

Literature, science, sociology, ethnology, philosophy, psychology, quantum physics, chemistry, have fuelled my personal resources in this pictorial achievement.

 

My Schrödinger’s cat's experience:

This physicist proposed a quantum theory .There is a box in which a button releases a poison. You put a cat into that box. If the cat pushes the button, it dies.

Schrödinger’s theory is: "As long as you do not look if the cat is dead or alive, the cat is dead and alive in both dimensions. » I wondered what my different dimensions were.

And I realized, through psychoanalysis, that our emotions are a very important dimension of our personality. Of course there are many more. Our body is a second dimension, our intellect a third one.

To experience at first hand the sense of abstraction I looked to understand the art of Zen. The technique of Zen archery has been crucial to my understanding.

The released arrow follows a trajectory. It does not worry about the target (“Not concerning yourself with the result of an action”). The target is just one step on its path. The arrow is free. When all this is respected, the mind is in peace.

The social sciences refer to a power struggle of society: territory, supremacy, power, and quest.

Within the dimensions of my human condition, there is also a power struggle between my emotions and my intellect. Between my emotions and my body and between my body and my mind... My mind tries to rationalize my emotions and my body. My emotions invade my body and belie my mind. So too, my body seeks to impose its way on my mind and my emotions.

Some other struggles occur because of the hidden faces from the above three dimensions: the instinct (body), the unconscious (mind) and heightened emotions (emotions). With the three dimensions (body-mind-emotions) and their hidden faces, a pact provides another level of communication: a pact between emotions and body (mental disorders), a pact between mind and body (frustration...) and a pact between intellect and emotions (physical diseases, somatization...). The pact between any two dimensions pressurizes the third.

So I wondered which could and which should be the dominant dimension?  Which would be able to restore peace amongst the other two in a case of conflict? Unfortunately none of the three are in anyway worthy of the dominant status. The intellect is affected by imagination, delusion, absurdity and magical thoughts … The emotions can escalate. The body is not infallible either; it grows old, breaks and gets tired...

So what else is in me that may ensure the balance?

If I am no body, no intellect, no emotion, what is my nature?

If I do not paint with my body, (no rhythm, no movement), if I do not paint with my emotions (I feel nothing, I'm not trying to express emotions, or even to be felt), if I do not paint with my mind (I do not build it with knowledge, intentions for composition, form, balance, state of the art ).


Nonetheless I paint!

So with what do I paint?

Who paints?

 

.

I am free like the arrow.

 

I spent a good while wondering about the question “who paints?” My mind was struggling to try intellectually to understand. My mind had lost its grip.

My fourth dimension is: spirituality.

 

Schwaller de Lubicz says: "The tool should be of the same nature as the thing it has to work".

I know what I wish to work: abstraction. And the first three dimensions didn’t have the ability to access abstraction.

So I had to respect, understand and feel the contours of the dimension of spirituality. It is part of my nature and so takes its place in my painting. It subtly radiates all its power. I am the link between this spiritual dimension and the canvas.

 

I am now 41 years old, and my painting gives me a great pleasure. My approach is accomplished. I have found my way. In front of my painting, the public feel amazed, divided, shocked, fascinated and enthusiastic. My painting brings an obsessive feeling, a hypnotic effect. It echoes to what observers hold most private.

Some people try to cling to their intellectuality and look for a logical and rational understanding. By trying to do this, they miss the point.

If they drop their intellectuality, the meaning and the nature of the work will unavoidably speak to them.


My painting is in line with the history of Art; after all painting movements that have freedom as a goal.

Abstraction that offers the widest freedom, revealed itself to me as a painting technique. This search for the purest abstraction, beyond what can be thought or intellectually understood, explores a work that calls for spirituality. It is timeless.

All the above becomes a painting that goes beyond form, lines, geometry, composition, figuration and concepts.  This freedom, the sacred of spirituality, is an open door to this other dimension of us that takes its place in our personal universe.

From Colourist Art, I turned toward abstraction, in which I blossomed.


I feel a freedom, a life force.


This is a unique pleasure of freedom because I have crossed the line from the intellectual path to abstraction because it is impossible to find true abstraction through intellect. The spiritual dimension is a borderless infinity of abstraction.

My painting fascinates and captivates even the most reluctant observers, because they perceive something that is not subject to any intellectual control. It's also quite amusing to see that during 10 minutes, their mind runs up against what eludes them and finally lets them completely get carried away by this pictorial universe that is unknown to them and yet so familiar. Something talks to them even against their will.

I do not follow in the emotional path of Rothko, but I used his approach not to represent what is perceived. It seems that Rothko had already removed the distance between the painter and the painting. However, he paints with his emotions. These « emotions act him » as a painter.

Whereas Rothko is emotional, I am spiritual.  The spirituality is that dimension of us that cannot be explained, and that manifests itself in the same way as other absolute human foundations: body, mind, emotions, and mental representation of social rules.

Anthropologists have identify absolute human dimensions across the different societies: physical, intellectual, emotional, social (temporal) and spiritual.

These dimensions have different shapes, different colours and different references, but they are still present and embodied in all of us in our uniqueness.

 

My artistic object is to reach the observer in his spirituality.

 

My thought process is to invoke the Sacred dimension as parcel of each of us, regardless of whether we subscribe to an institutional affiliation or not.

 

At the beginning, some observers don’t see anything. They are blind in a “no minds land”. But you only need to be in contact a few minutes with my paintings, and you will be mesmerized...

 

Cyre de Toggenburg


Images and words are the property of  © Cyre de Toggenburg