“Art is made to distract but also to enrich us…”

Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Daniel René

Paul Zimmerman: Wood is your preferred material. Why is it important?

Daniel René: The philosophy of my technique is to give a second life to old woods that otherwise would eventually rot on the soil or be burned in a fireplace, revealing the richness of the particular colors that age has given them.

PZ: How do you find balance between natural and artificial?

DR: Everything in my pictures is natural: wood, bark, leaves, leather… except gold leaves, I use nothing that has been manufactured.

PZ: Your pieces have a meditative quality. Is there a spiritual aspect to your work?

DR: It is simply the result of my inspiration: I never begin a picture with a “meditative” intention. If my pictures cause meditation, it means that I have reached my goal : to touch a soul and make it react and think…

PZ: How would you describe yourself as an artist?

DR: I didn’t become an artist, I was born one: I began drawing at the age of 5, I learned music at 7 (I since have become a composer), I practice photography since the age of 20 and end grain wood technique since the age of 30. I have always been creatins something in my life…

PZ: How do you find ideas for new pieces?

DR: I often begin a picture with no idea of what I am going to create; I am guided by the pieces of wood I lay on my table: such piece “calls” another one and so on. For only few pictures, I had an idea in mind and drew a plan.

PZ: Which artists do you most identify with?

DR: I know no other “end grain wooder” like me in the world (I mean working precisely with my technique) but I like painters and sculptors who work also on imagination: Pierre Matter, Bernard Fièvre…

PZ: What is the role of art in our society?

DR: Art is made to distract but also to enrich us through meditation and exchange with other people.

PZ: Do you want your work to impact viewers in a particular way?

DR: I have a very personal principle: a creation becomes an artwork when it allows two souls, the one of the artist and the one of the viewer, to meet and make love in the narrow but uplifting frame of of the work… In that sense, I have had 3 times the privilege of seing ladies crying in front of my pictures…

PZ: What are you working on now?

DR: I am presently working on a picture the center of which will be constitued of a knot of roots that has precisely the shape and the size of a human heart.

PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?

DR: During the first lockdown in France, I made (for fun) a picture called “viral attack” but except exhibitions cancellations, the pandemic has no influence on me: my world of imagination is not on this planet.


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