Do you know what Spark means in Icelandic? A kick, as well as strength. It suits him well. I like his energy, the vitality that emerges from his works and artistry. Looking back at where he comes from, his early paintings, and seeing what he does now, one can only be delighted. It’s magnificent. Benjamin Spark is someone, who really knows how to draw and has evolved a lot.
Although I have only known him for 3 years, he is the only artist in my entire career — and I am 83 years old! —, who has ever come to my studio to explain to me how he works. Usually painters keep their little secrets to themselves. But he, he explained everything to me, everything from how he realises enlargements to the way he projects them like slides onto a screen, without keeping anything from me. Thus, this is the first time in my life that I get inside the mind of an (other) artist, so to speak. He came with his computer and I had a feeling that he was showing me somewhat the next day! We, artists, are always concerned with the future, what comes next, but also with the idea that everything has been done already, that nothing is left to do, hence the future is uncertain, dotted. Benjamin Spark embodies one of the possibilities of this future that is being drawn. He works incredibly fast, but also very skilfully since his compositions are exceptionally polished. This is by the way one of our similarities. Benjamin Spark thinks about the way he is going to compose his canvas before thinking about the subject of his painting.
Composition is the most important part. I learned it in Florence, during my formative years as an artist, where I studied at the Uffizi all the masters of Renaissance. This is necessary to evolve towards more modern compositions and eventually consider realising them with the help of a computer. This is the way modernity goes, fast, very fast, like Facebook, like the Web. With Benjamin Spark, we move forward at least. It is dynamic and he demonstrates that one can still introduce something breaking with everything that has ever been made up to this point, until oneself. There were Pop art, Figuration Libre, Figuration Narrative, and plenty other movements, but Benjamin Spark draws from them to actually invent a new form of narration. His subjects come from all over the world; they are very diverse, very open. He can’t be reduced to a position.
So when I discover such talents, I try my best to help them exhibit, with or without me. Also what I like with him is that he doesn’t take himself seriously. It is refreshing. He loves his work and this is essential. There are so many guys, who only did one or two things in their lives and foolishly believe themselves to be indispensable. At least Benjamin Spark isn’t like Nicolas Sarkozy!
Translated by Violaine Boutet de Monvel