Since 1986 Annette Bezor has been working in both the Cite Internationale des Arts and private studios in Paris. The Adelaide Paris connection, seemingly so contemporary is very much a part of South Australian visual art history. Conducted as an interview with the artist.
Since 1986 Annette Bezor has been working in both the Cité Internationale des Arts, and private studios in Paris. This Adelaide-Paris connection, seemingly so contemporary, is very much part of South Australian visual art hisory.
GD: So, tell me about your decision to go to Paris?
AB I come from what you'd call a working class Adelaide background, and was the first person in the family to get a degree and going to Paris was a very romatic ideal for me. I wasn't disappointed! It can be a sad and lonely city, but I loved it, and still do. It's a city where the more you give it, the more it gives back to you. And it's so rich visually - it's all about looking and being looked at.
Unusually for an expatriate I left at a time in my career when my work was being well received, but I was unhappy and wasn't doing what I wanted with it. Before I left in '86 I'd start a painting knowing exactly what was going to go where. As soon as I got to Paris I saw a huge Julian Schnabel show that just blew my mind. Whether you like him or not it's such brave work. Seeing it made me braver. I began my first scrunch paintings [Bezor scrunches up the canvas tightly, working color into the 'cracks']. In these I learned to let the canvas suggest what goes onto it.
GD. Do you think part of the role of the expatriate artist is still to import new ideas
AB One hopes that would be the case. The 'Complicity Series' for example - I showed back here at the Festival - they were new works, developed in Paris, with a number of influences but specially two important shows I'd seen, one by Sigmar Polke, and another [again], by Schnabel. The paintings looked nothing like either of course but I had that feeling about them you know, that sense of discovery?...I didn't receive much feedback - the series seemed to just 'pass through' without comment. Perhaps this is due to the fact that, for the people here who follow my work, they only get to see pockets here and there of it, not one long progresssive line.
GD Do you think we Australians look towards Europe with the same old sense of cringe?
AB No, I think that's changed. But I think the sense of inferiority exists looking the other way. Australian artists are seen as low down on the scale and it is hard to get your work looked at - and no, you do need to be there, you can't do it over the Internet!
You still can't 'finish' your art education here though in the sense that you do need to go abroad to get a sense of the breadth of what's happening. That said people are making some bloody good work in Australia.
GD. How has 12 years of expatriatism changed your work?
AB It's shaped the story of my life, which I've written in my paintings. The paintings would not look the way they do and nor would I be the person I am, without this experience. Painting is, no matter what else you think, autobiographical and what I've gained is apparent, and I believe, should be apparent, in my painting.