Nota Bene: Over the years, art-icle has also dealt with « art » in general, regardless of the era. As Ernst Gombrich put it so well: « There is no such thing as art, there are only artists ».
Léon Mychkine is a pseudonym. Originally, I was a contemporary poet. I started writing to save my life at the age of 14. My last book of poetry, Pan Europa, was published in 2005 by Le Quartanier (Montreal). From 2007 onwards, I wrote nothing but rubbish and repetition, so I gradually stopped writing poetry. That same year, I defended my Doctorate in Philosophy at the EHESS (Thesis: Le concept d’expérience dans la philosophie d’Alfred North Whitehead. Un Essai de Naturalisation). Whitehead made of the ‘feeling’ a major driving force in the functioning of experience. He said it was more important for something to be ‘interesting’ (in the aesthetic sense) than true. In 2015 I published a book, Des compositions de l’expérience. Whitehead, l’hylémorphisme et le phénomène (Zeta Books), which is intended as an introduction to the Whiteheadian philosophy of experience, and which presents the prolegomena to my own philosophy of experience, ceteris paribus. At the start of 2020, I published a book on Locke, in the collection “Apprendre à philosopher avec” (Éditions Ellipses). I was very honoured, because I admire Locke, a philosopher who is far too little known. So it’s time to say that my real name is Fabrice Bothereau.
Having worked with artists for some thirty years, being fascinated by their ways of understanding existence through the spectrum of art, and having written about them from time to time, I decided to throw myself into art criticism full time. On 01 July 2016 this website dedicated to contemporary art was born. At the time of this new launch, it was agreed that the name of this boat would be art-icle.fr, and its captain Léon Mychkine. Prince Leon Nikolayevich Myshkin is the main hero of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot.
Artists are precious, and they generally signal the world of culture. They show that there is always a way of existing that is both compliant and non-compliant, precisely because they decide to spend hours of their lives working, as Hannah Arendt said (in her masterly book: Condition of Modern Man). Only artists (including writers and poets) work. Everybody else labors. But over time, artists have come to say that they too ‘labor’. But the artist doesn’t labor, he works; which implies a relationship to time, to self-sacrifice, to willpower, quite foreign to the timed world of salaried work. The artist has no timetable… I therefore intend to rehabilitate the notion of ‘work’ specific to the artist, because that’s what it’s all about. Artists find it hard to use the word ‘work’, deeming it too pretentious. But using the word ‘work’ is not a question of pretentiousness, but of formality; the artist’s regime is not that of labor; this regime literally spills over into time and into life itself.
Art is interesting. Yet in his Moralités Postmodernes, Jean-François Lyotard criticises the use of the word ‘interesting’. But I claim it. Art is interesting, but not everything is. And I’m only going to talk here about what interests me, which is to say that I’m not going to take my time to negatively criticise artists whom I’d like to see ‘damaged’ by my criticism. I don’t see the point of doing that. Besides, as Harold Rosenberg puts it so well, “the art world has an instinct for what it needs, and it rejects any surplus”.
On the other hand, I reserve the right to select what interests me in the artist’s work, and which does not necessarily coincide with his or her discourse. We all know that artists don’t always control the effects of their work, even when their theory seems cast in marble. And we also know that interpretation is, by its very nature, pluralist. So, on the one hand, we can say what we like about a work of art, while on the other hand we, the viewers, the amateurs, the theoreticians of the Sunday or the week, do not have a monopoly on interpretation. And that’s fine.
All in all, we hope to produce here a little intelligence and sensitivity, and an interest in coming to See, and letting aesthetic experience act. It should be clear here that the term ‘aesthetic’ must be understood in the strong, and not decorative, sense of the term, i.e. that aesthetics goes further than the judgement of taste as associated by Kant. Aesthetics is, etymologically, sensation. But the term ‘sensation’ must be understood here as a grasp of the whole body, body and mind, so to speak, and without dualism, but rather, it must be said, a hylemorphic grasp (reader, to your Aristotle, or philosophy dictionary…).
We ourselves are aesthetic beings, and it is almost a tautology to say so: we constantly feel things, and we also think them. But we feel much more than we think. This is also what we call ‘feeling’.
The great difficulty lies in associating feeling and thought. Kant tells us that our subjective judgement enables us to produce “aesthetic ideas”, but that from there, these ideas cannot lead to knowledge, since these ideas are linked only to intuition. But it could be said that precisely the person who is capable of objectifying aesthetic ideas can produce what we call art criticism. Kant notwithstanding, there are ideas about art, and most of them come from the artists themselves! It is the artist who is largely absent from his Critique of the Faculty of Judgement. Fortunately, here we go to meet him.
Dear reader, you can contact me, if you wish, at the following address: email@example.com