Slowness, contemplation and emptiness

In all its diverse forms of expression, in all times and latitudes, art has been a fertile and privileged domain for the development of a spiritual dimension in the life of men, overcoming in this way life’s inevitable limits and contingencies.  This spirituality achieved, according to the place and time of their investigations, a wide range of tools useful for opening up their Environment and giving Meaning to this Life that carries them.

This is indeed the sense of the words of Philippe Roberts-Jones: “Reducing the complex to the intelligible, vegetation to the sign, (…) , and beyond that no doubt, is only possible by an opening up of the perceived elements and the apprehension of these by the prospecting intuition.”(1)

For many of our contemporaries, faith (with or without a capital F) is held in the hollow space of this spiritual life. It is made up more of doubts than certitudes. “It is only what escapes from me that captivates me”, said the sculptor André Willequet.(2)

Denis De Mot’s work participates in this process. It takes on lines in which the notions of Slowness, of Contemplation and of Emptiness take on their full meaning. “I have a weakness for slowness, in painting as in other things,” he likes to repeat. Such a work – a slow one – reveals to the observer the memory of the artist’s gestical and chromatic movements, constantly and with conviction picking up the work again and again.

Matt colours for the most part. Apollonian? Like the colour of lead, a heavy and dense material the artist once worked. Rough uneven bits, alternating hollows and cuts. The background of the work gives its full measure. Rhythmed globes and structures, here restrained, there taking flight. Dionysian? Sensitive handling of pigments, acrylic and gouache, bindings and glues liberating – and digging to the quick – the matt layers, scars of the support. In every case, a pictorial enterprise that pays clear tribute to time and to patience. Or are they only the scenery of a play that changes, act after act, scene after scene, little by little, leading to the dénouement as the curtain falls?

Paraphrasing Serge Goyens de Heusch who compared the work of René Guiette to that of Marc Tobey, Denis De Mot also traces “signs that can be seen as equivalences of his inner life and his meditation”. (3)  His work certainly invites one to contemplation, rather than to expression and communication. It is the intrinsic spiritual quality of his form, his omnipresent sobriety.

The artist invites the public to share his way of looking at where shadows, hints, solicitations, symbols and traces evoke for each of us an imaginary voyage. For, as Paul Klee said so well, “art does not reproduce what is visible, but renders it visible”.

The work of Denis De Mot finds its place in the line of the Taoist thought, which reserves to empty space the dominant place of our origins. As the philosopher of the Third century B.C., Chuang-zu, wrote: “Before heaven and earth there is the Not Having, the Nothing, the Void”. Matisse, in his writings on art, underscored, in turn, the importance of the space between objects.

In many of his works, much like Théodore Monod or Charles de Foucauld, the artist invites us to walk with him, far from the cities’ clamour, in the laboured furrows of his paintings, fascinating spaces like the desert, where alone and soundless, the Spirit breathes.

Let us share with him this eminently humanistic experience of a creation that his hand as much as his palette, true to the not shown and to the unsaid, touch with fervour.

Michel Van Lierde, Collector