The art of Ben Vautier lies in his ability to seize with impertinence and authenticity the main issues ailing society. A born agitator, the 85-year-old embodies the role of the disruptive artist society simply can’t do without. He observes, analyses and proposes his point of view through hand-painted texts that have become so familiar yet have not lost their relevance nor their ability to solicit a response, deconstruct our reality and challenge our habits.
His epigrams are a kind of brushstroke, getting straight to the point, yet deeply profound. Some of his writings in French translate to “No art without suffering”, “I’m waiting for glory”, “Art is a virus”, “Ben is art”, “Art doesn’t exist, everything is ego”, “Who decides what’s beautiful and what’s ugly?”, “Sell your soul to Lucifer now”, “I love naked women” or “I don’t know who I am”.
He places a throne-like chair on a pedestal with the words “He told the truth, he will be executed”, inscribes “this mirror tells the truth” on a mirror that has viewers staring back at their own reflections and makes atrocious copies of other artists’ work, such as a Paul Cezanne Provencal landscape, and scribbles “the poor man’s Cezanne” on it.
A master of aphorisms and epigrams, he has transformed writing into painting, elevating script to the level of contemporary art.