We had the good fortune of connecting with Arnaud Gibersztajn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arnaud, what principle do you value most?
The principle that matters most to me is to be true to myself. This means that I should never go against my true nature if I wish to succeed in my life and my work. This rule applies especially to my painting. If I ever try to emulate the style of another artist, the painting is doomed from the start. I always feel a stronger connection to paintings I create organically than those that have been commissioned. It is absolutely impossible for me to “cheat,” meaning rushing the work or not being fully focused while creating a piece. If I do not express my true feelings on the canvas, the results are mediocre at best. It is only by truly understanding and living by this value that I will be able to leave a proper trace in this world through my work.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The language of painting is much like speaking. Composition, color, texture, and nuance are an alphabet, a vocabulary of the language of painting. I strive to attain fluency in order to communicate and commune with the world. I am an abstract painter. I work mostly in oil, forms and colors drive my compositions. My process is a constant fight between myself and the canvas. A misplaced line, an inadequate color, and the canvas is lost. If I am distracted even momentarily, the result is catastrophic. But when communication between my heart and the surface is pure, when the union is complete, the painting becomes emotionally charged and completes itself, as by its own volition.
I am a self-taught artist. My passion for painting developed at a very young age, but it was not until I moved from Paris to New York, however, that I began a serious exploration of color, line, figure, and abstraction and developed what would become my personal style of abstraction—variations of color fields using oils and a palette knife. I’ve had several solo shows in New York, Paris and throughout Japan, and my work has been in numerous group shows. My paintings are in many prominent private collections in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Fiji, Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil and Mexico.
Mine was an unusual route to the art world. I painted for years, and I supported myself working as a waiter and maitre’d at a restaurant in New York City. This part of my story is common—the struggling artist whose day job supports his true passion. It was one of those restaurants you read about in glossy magazines, where pop singers and movie stars go, as well as gallerists and art collectors. As I got to know the clientele, it slowly came out that I was a painter. The owner of the restaurant asked me to hang a piece in the front room. Prominent, influential people, whom I had gotten to know as customers over the years, saw my work. They were drawn to it and purchased it for their own collections. I had my first exhibitions with gallerists who made dinner reservations through me. My buyers and gallerists had gotten to know me as a person before they got to know my work. It’s usually the other way around—-but perhaps it shouldn’t be. What is often now a purely commercial transaction, the buying and selling of artwork, was enriched by the personal bonds I had forged through my other work at the restaurant. My two vocations informed each other and for a time were one and the same.
This story makes it sound like I just fell into selling and showing my art. But that’s not the case. It was not easy. I worked for years in the restaurant business before I ever showed my work to anyone. And then it took me years to bring myself to tell others, “I am an artist.” But once I voiced these words, things began to fall into place. The act of uttering these words with intent and conviction released energy into my universe that set a course in motion, the trajectory that brought me to where I am today. I no longer work at the restaurant and I’ve moved on to other galleries, mostly in Japan, but I still place great value in getting to know my collectors and representatives on a personal level and having them know something about me. I feel much better about putting my work out into the world when I know it is going to a good place to which I have a connection.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Yukie Ohta, my partner (and founder of the SoHo Memory Project). For going on twenty years, Yukie has been my inspiration at every level. She is always there to push me forward in my work and my life and she shows me how to break boundaries with my craft. Her generous spirit and her non-judgmental way of thinking open my eyes to new experiences and helped me take risks with my painting. I would not been where I am today without her. By being critical of my work and giving me honest feedback, she truly helps me move forward with my work.