Stefan Beyst (1945) is a Belgium based retired lecturer in the philosophy of art and modern art history. Many of his often controversial texts on art and modern artists are to be read on his website.
Stefan Beyst, tell me how did your passion begin ?
" It happened by accident. I have been photographing my whole life, but not with artistic purposes. Some years ago, my wife bought an electronic camera. I discovered the possibilities of the new medium : no need of a costly and time consuming darkroom and the possibility to shoot as many photos as you like without having to develop them, and above all the countless possibilities of manipulation of the image with Photoshop. Add to that that I had a crisis in my personal life. I have been writing my entire life and suddenly felt that it has been in vain. In my twenties, I also wanted to become an artist, but had decided to devote myself to writing. When making my first images with the digital camera, suddenly the artist in me resurfaced again : I simply could not stop making images. After some months, I have finally found a new equilibrium between writing and making images.
What inspire you ?
" I am most inspired by the great masters of painting.
Do you feel attired by a place more than another one ?
" I like beautiful landscapes like those or Firenze and the Provence, and, provided the weather is beautiful, also the place where I live.Tell me about your preferences when you shoot ?
" I rather prefer the unnatural light of imaginary worlds.
Are you an obsessive artist, always shooting ?
" There is always some idea in my head or some image that is emerging…
What is your process of artistic creation ? Like it comes or very organized ?
" It depends. On images like 'The wall' I have been working for weeks. Other images, like the series 'Heptatych' have been made in half an hour, without any premeditation. For the moment, I am doing all kinds of experiments for my next image which will be 'composite'.What kind of ambiance do you install to warm the shy atmosphere of the beginning of a set ?
" Up to now, I have not worked with models, except for my wife and my children. I guess I would find it extremely difficult to get acquainted with them in order to obtain the required expression…
Do you make many corrections on a long period, or do you find immediately the final sense of your work ?
" The majority of my images are practically 'as shot' : the interventions in the digital darkroom are minimal. In a minority of images, the interventions are more decisive.
How do you know when all is finished ?
" It is just a feeling : 'this is good'.
How do you feel when your work leaves you ?
" It is an intense feeling of satisfaction, a sense of happiness even. I soon proceed to some totally different adventure, but now and then, I have a look at my previous images, sometimes with mixed feelings, and then again with the initial feeling of satisfaction.
(series auguries of innocence)
What is your artistic dream ?
" My great dream is to make a large composite picture with a lot of figures that would give a view of what is happening in our contemporary world - a more sophisticated version of the pictures in 'Auguries of Innocence'.
What would you want to do if everything was possible ?
" I would like to stop ageing and to become young again…
What for your next exhibition ?
" Up to now, I have been busy with finding a good printer. I have found one and now I a trying to find a gallery.
Have you been published ?
" I have two books published in Dutch. You can read the English version on my website 'The ecstasies of Eros'
Thank you Stefan !