Contemporary art: love it or hate it?
Idan Wizen gives us his opinion about contemporary art
Would you prefer to read than watch a video?
Hello, I am Idan Wizen, artist-photographer, based in Paris. I work in France, but also internationally, in the United States and in Asia.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a photographer?
I would say both. Photography is the medium I use on a daily basis. I don’t paint, I don’t draw very much, usually, it’s just to prepare for the photographs I’m going to make. I’m starting to do sculpture, but what made me known and what allows me to work on a daily basis is the camera, it’s photography, it’s the management of the light behind it.
Artist, it is the finality of my photographic works. One can do photography to say many things: reportage, marriage photography, advertising photography. There are many purposes when one makes a photograph, and it is up to the author to decide the reason and the context.
In my case, I photograph above all to create strong images, which are to be exhibited in galleries, in collectors’ homes, which are intended to be printed in large formats, but above all to provoke a particular and unique emotion in the viewer.
So, from that point of view, I am an artist.
What do you think of contemporary art?
That’s a rather vague question because contemporary art is broad. We often hear people say that they love or hate contemporary art with very clear-cut positions. I think that in contemporary art there is a little bit of everything. There are exceptional things in front of which I love to marvel and which I will look at with passion, with envy, with emotions. There are extremely strong things. And then, as in any sector, there are things that are inevitably not so good. Sometimes, we will push the principle of the conceptual a little too hard, removing the aestheticism, saying that the form is not essential, but that the substance is. Sometimes, the background can also be light, so there’s not much left.
It’s like everything. Like in the cinema, where there are very good things, and things that I will find less good. Also in music. I think that contemporary art is very wide and that you have to see and choose what you like and what you don’t like.
What are your sources of inspiration?
There is one person that I feel obliged to mention every time, because he is the one who gave me the idea to do art, to do photography. It is David La Chapelle. His strong, colorful, powerful images, full of meaning, hidden meaning too. I have always been in awe of him, and he is one of my main references.
But to quote a Frenchman as well, I really like the work of Gérard Rancinan, whom I have been following for years, and whom I find magnificent.
Other great names, like Jill Greenberg or Sacha Goldberger, I like very much, and they are people who inspire me.
So, in contemporary art you prefer fine art photographers?
No, not necessarily. It’s true that I tend to quote photographers because I follow them more. But there are obviously artists that I like a lot. Banksy, for example. I don’t agree with all his positions, but I find them very strong and relevant.
I really like the Japanese influence like Murakami or Kusama. And then someone who is between photography and installation is Spencer Tunick, where I’ve always admired his work.
What is art for you?
Art for me is something that is hard to define. There are many who have tried before me. What is important to understand is that often when we say “art”, in the head of people it will be associated with quality. For me art is a state of what it is, it is a work of art, good, bad, whatever. One should not confuse “work of art” and “masterpiece”. That’s what many will do.
I think that a work of art is above all something that emanates from the author, there is really a will to propose a different, alternative, his own vision of things, and to share them with his public.
Is photography art?
Yes, of course. Photography is art. I like to think that the medium doesn’t really define art. It is above all a form of expression, regardless of the medium, it could be painting, sculpture, photography, installation, video. Today, we can see art in many different forms, but photography is not necessarily art. I’m going to be a little bit direct. When you take a picture with your phone and it’s just to send to your friend to make a souvenir, it’s not art. It can be a photo, you are the author, but it is not art. To become one, there must be a real will to create a piece of art.
What is quality art according to you?
For me, the art that I appreciate is the art that brings together two aspects. First of all, an idea, a background that should be strong, that should propose a different point of view, a social reflection, on the human, psychological level, regardless of the theme, but in any case a real reflection.
The second point is to have an aesthetic that is surprising, attractive to the eye, that accompanies the reflection proposed by the work. It is when we combine these two elements that we have a work of quality.
I would like to say, to make a comparison with a novel: it is essential that the plot, the story of the novel be interesting, and then it is better if it is well written, if the sentences are well structured. We enter the story more easily, we want to know the end of the story. If it’s poorly written, we usually stop at the beginning.
What does it take to be a good artist?
It depends on which way you look at it. First of all, a good agent, a good gallery!
I think, a lot of work, a lot of self-denial. I think that today it is very difficult to break through, we have the impression that we are in an extremely connected world, where you can show your work to everyone extremely easily. But in the hubbub of the information that we will have, we drown in it, and it is much more difficult to show what we do.
The main quality to be a good artist is a lot of work, a lot of abnegation, a lot of questioning and keep trying, keep working and keep doing!
Is there a recipe for success?
Of course, you send me an email and I will send it back to you!
No, I don’t think there is a recipe. There are destinies of life, a little luck, a chance of things, there is much work. There are many things, but I think that we haven’t even defined what “success” is. It’s a very broad question.
I believe that an artist, above all, must continue to enjoy creating, and that is the most important thing.