Norbert Engel in C de L’art magazine

Norbert Engel was the subject of an article in the magazine “C de L’art” published by the Parisian art gallery Sonia Monti. You will find a short biography of the artist, an interview and an explanation of the work “Joie”.

To read this article, click here.


existe-t-il une couleur préférée

It is very difficult for a painter to answer the question: “What is your favourite colour and what is your least favourite colour? “Just as the writer needs all the letters, the painter needs all the colours and should not let go of any of them.

The choice of a colour is not only a matter of personal taste, but is often based on necessity.

How often is it a beige or goose poo that becomes the unlikely final touch to create harmony on the canvas?

Rarely is it with this type of color that the painter will start a painting!

I will rather start with a beautiful vermilion red, a cobalt blue or a golden yellow, which are the choice of the heart.

That’s it: I have just given up, abandoned, betrayed certain colors, the poor parents of painting but which the painter needs by necessity and you force me to confess that my favorite color is red!

I could also have chosen blue or yellow, but red is still the star.

And then there are the ones I am not very proud of but I am very happy that they exist, the ones that pretend to be colours but are in fact mixtures, fillings, anything: the beigasses, the salmonées.

All those colours that, by force of wanting to take themselves for real colours, end up farting higher than their asses and I come to goose poo!
Forgive my triviality, but I like to speak raw; maybe that’s why I’m a painter: painting allows this direct and massive frank expression, without convolutions.

So to bend to the exercise, I definitely choose red as my favourite colour and the opposite, beige.

Beige is the worst of compromises!
I could also have chosen another hybrid colour like the salmon that I get by mixing red and yellow with white: that’s already a lot of mixtures!

But to make beige, I have to make a first mix that doesn’t smell like holiness, let me use the expression, I’m talking about brown (which I make by combining the three primary colours red, blue and yellow), to this brown I add yellow as if I wanted to make up for something and get out of the mud.

One could point out the paradox that the partisans of the Nazi regime, who were in principle hostile to any form of mixing and thus crossbreeding, nevertheless disguised themselves in brown and beige.

Let’s go back to my favourite colour, red.
I really like the way Jean Robertet talks about red.
“Red should not be any less than any other colour:
He certainly meant that red owes nothing to other colours or to anyone: the same could be said of the two other primary colours, blue and yellow.

“Be rebuffed, for it shows victory,
Pump, pride, arrogance, vain glory,
He who does not peult up and down does not want to come down:
It’s very true! Red is the colour of the victory of life over death.

I put red on a white canvas and light the fire;

These are the glory days of an Attila who invades the steppes…

Red is creative destruction.
It’s a volcanic eruption, a rupture, all you add afterwards is to mitigate its effect.
Red is grandiose, unique and self-sufficient.
The revolutionaries took red as their emblem, the anarchists took black, I don’t know why, I would have recommended red, but a darker red.

Contrary to humility, red is arrogance and pride, red does not want to go down, cannot go down, it always aspires to go up.
The color of expansion.

Yes, I love red: the colour of all excess, the colour of desire, of growth, of excess.

Colour of blood.

The blood that “waters our furrows”.
That waters the Tanned One as Robertet would have said.

It gives life to all that is resigned, submissive, to all that doubts,
to brown and beige “that dubious can estre”.

Creation during containment


Creation during containment.

Lion of everything, close to the essential.

Meditate. Balance of green tea.

Run on the spot on the living room carpet.

Sunbathing on the balcony.

Get lost by tasting an opulent red wine.

Spaghetti bolognese.

Digital creations on my iPad.

Hot bath in the bathtub.


Chess games, small miniature lives: birth, struggle to survive, death or victory.

Let two or three squares of dark chocolate melt in the mouth.

Take photos with my iPhone.

Lying on the carpet, listen to the music of Max Richter.

Iodized explosion in the mouth of my favorite whiskey.


Make photos-compositions on my iPad.

Music on Spotify.

Pencil on a cardboard.

Inhale deeply, breathe out fully for five minutes.

Far from my workshop, invent with the means at hand, Some tubes of gouache, some residue of acrylic paint.

Do what I prefer: stains.

A series of creations called Etants.

Attached “Being F”.

F like ….

Everyone will put the word that seems right.

Confinement, a life conducive to creative outpouring.


“The six paintings exhibited, from the private collection of the Gandur foundation, now a partner of the museum, represent part of the artist’s work, between 1951 and 1962.” We can clearly see the evolution of the canvas painted until ‘at the first folds, which will become the major expression of Simon Hantaï ”, describes Sylvain Amic, the director of the Réunion des musées métropolitains. After a brief stint with the surrealists, questioning the place of the abstract in the movement, Simon Hantaï will effectively develop his own research for a very gestural painting, then more and more blind using the natural folds of the canvas. “Young painters then referred to him. They talked about it as their spiritual master, like Buren, “said Daniel Hantai, the artist’s son, present for the inauguration. ”  

Regarding Hantai, I can only recommend reading the chapter by Daniel Sibony Psychoanalyst: “The notches of the other light” in his book FANTASMS OF ARTISTS from which I deliver some extracts.  

“You present yourself in life in a clear and innocent way, like a big white canvas, and the meeting of the other or the event crumples you … then you find yourself flattened, not crushed, but more or less put in dish; then you’re exposed to different lights … finally, after a certain time, you begin to straighten up, unfold, unfold, as if under the effect of resilience, a call to life; then you enter the field of Hantaï, you are in the image of one of his works. “

“To assert oneself in one’s very breaking is one of the secrets of humans. Most assert themselves in spite of themselves, rarely by themselves, others ignore that they are broken, it is the cleavage. Here, it is a luminous affirmation not of oneself but of a self in dialogue with its other; the other is the repressed which returns but which is white: its existence suffices, and above all its return, which carries the rest and makes it more radiant. ”

“It is clear that between folding and unfolding, it is a vast interaction, a dynamic and subtle in-between, full of random burrs that remind us of life. Between the whites of the repressed that returns and the colored forms, the third that stands out is the work itself, the Canvas. ”

“Hantaï compares to Rothko in the impulse of the process: to make the light of being or the being of light burst, in beauty. “

“Let’s come back to the fantasy of Hantai. In a film about him, he explains his childhood fascination with his mother’s aprons, for their metamorphosis as they are washed and ironed. And he quotes his mother saying: “When it’s done well, work, you can take the apron, you look at yourself, you see yourself as in a mirror. So would he have folded-unfolded, his mother’s “outfits”? his clothes, his habits or his folds? Now that can speak to analysts. Is white the hidden part of the mother, her nakedness? who comes back in force to carry the essential dialogue with light? It brings us a little closer to what would be his fantasy. Already the major gesture of his painting _ folding the canvas before painting_ means: acting out the existence of the repressed … .. It is a way of respecting the existence of the forbidden: he refrains from see parts of the canvas, parts that are hidden, then suddenly revealed, when the painter, passing under the canvas as in a tent, or as a child under the skirt of a cosmic mother, comes out to see better, with us, the wonder of the repressed which is even visible. This white man who comes back to structure the whole thing, we perceived it as the nudity of the mother. It’s hard not to think of Oedipus, who blinds himself to having seen and even to have enjoyed it, of these hidden parts of the mother. The artist, drawing on the richness of the light, valiantly tackles the “folded pile” to emerge victorious from the test. “

Art Shopping Review

bilan art shopping

From October 18 to 20, 2019, I had the opportunity to participate for the first time in the exhibition Art Shopping at the Carrousel du Louvre. This meeting dedicated to digital art was an enriching experience for more than one reason.

Originally, this exhibition was a “test” for my work in digital. I had a lot of visits and positive feedback, especially from professionals: “your painting stands out so much because of its very personal touch”, “your painting is in its time and very modern”, “It is a modern painting and Pop “,” you go to the essential by your minimalism “,” the colors are beautiful “.

The exhibition also allowed me to be spotted by three galleries: a Milan gallery, another gallery that wanted to exhibit one of my “nude-landscape” at the Spectrum in Miami and finally, a Parisian gallery that I will meet beginning of November !

It was also an opportunity for me to meet new people and make friends with other painters. There was a great solidarity between us, especially during the somewhat sporty moments of hanging and stalling.

Three works have been sold: two small formats (“Cinderella” and “Honey Moon”) and a very large format (“Achievements at the height of emptiness 1”).

To conclude, I have seen that digital art is pleasing. And that my PopArt style that came with the use of IPad also pleases. I therefore give you an appointment next year because the reservation has already been made but this time with a larger stand!

A “Nu-landscape” exposed in Miami

nu paysage

I am very pleased to announce that the “Nu-paysage” shown below was spotted by an art curator during the Art Shopping exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre and will be exhibited at the Spectrum in Miami, a major exhibition of contemporary art to be held from December 4th to 8th. At the moment when I speak to you, the work is already on the boat towards the USA 🙂

I will be at Art3F Brussels


I am pleased to announce that I will be present at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art which will take place in Brussels from November 15th to 17th at Heysel Palais 1. I will exhibit it through the Madrilenian gallery VAN GOGH Art Gallery who selected 3 of my acrylic paintings:
– The magpie on the willow
– Red and White Square
– window on heart

Interview with Norbert Engel (part 4)

Parallel to your works according to a usual process (paintings on canvas) you started in painting by a computer In painting does the evolution of the painter correspond to the evolution of the expectations of the public? Why this new direction? Is the sensuality of the painting brush spread out, do not you miss in this way of working the color?

These last two questions give me the opportunity to answer the question “how to paint? ” acrylic or digital? During my visit to the exhibition in Beaubourg of the painter David Hockney in 2017 I discovered the painting on IPad and I wanted to test its potentialities. It takes a period of adaptation to the tool, especially to mourn the classic feelings of painting on the web that no longer exist. There are also the famous spots that no longer fall from the sky. We no longer have that sense of space to conquer and appeal to a blank canvas. On the other hand, the digital technique first brings the possibility of having an absolutely unlimited color palette with very bright colors. Moreover, the possibility of directly transposing all existing natural colors is an extraordinary advantage, because the classical painter or simply pure colors and in this case has a necessarily limited range or is forced to make mixtures of colors according to rules accurate. With digital we can explore images that exist through digital files.

We can do photomontages. For example I’m going to do a digital work whose title will be “the ghost of the artist”. I will symbolically represent the artist who totally invests his work. To do this, I photograph the floor carpet on which a number of canvases have been painted. On this carpet strewn with stains of paintings, vestiges of numerous works of painting, is posed a pair of shoe of the painter. This enlarged photo in large format 130 * 162 is glued on a hard and rigid material such as aluminum or on a canvas mounted on chassis and the latter, when done well, can deceive the enemy as they say 🙂 These are among other things the kind of fun and creative fantasies that digital technology allows. Another advantage for the amateur is the ability to acquire the work in the format he wants: S, M, L or XL. We can work in limited edition to 8 copies, which lowers the purchase price. If I am outside the workshop for example, or traveling for example IPad is perfect, because it allows to take with you all the colors of the world, much more than in the richest palette of classic painter . The hands are always clean, it’s a significant advantage 🙂   At the level of “Faktura” as said the ancients, some might regret the absence of texture representation. In fact I will test during my next exhibition Art Shopping at the Carrousel du Louvre next month the reactions of the public. It will be a first! But in any case I would abandon the canvas for IPad and vice versa. From now on, from canvas to IPad and from ipad to canvas, I am, I paint.

Interview with Norbert Engel (part 3)

And here in color, you move to the monochrome … Is this a new step?

Ah, the monochrome? A step? I would not say that like that. I would say a temptation? deadlock? a challenge? a dream? an immense desire? This gives me the opportunity to answer “for whom to paint? ” If I were alone in the world, I mean without “other”, I would paint only monochromes. The monochrome is this ocean of blue, or turquoise or red or white regardless of the color because I love them all. monochrome is the infinite within the reach of the human. it’s unity it’s a perfection. the temptation to paint only monochromes is strong, but I’m afraid of the look of the other who thinks it’s “foutage mouth” But who do I paint for?

– for me, to experience a rheological and visual enjoyment to spread a color evenly over an enormous white canvas?

– for the other who judges me and who goes or not, buy the work and thus, give me the gratification that I wait?

– for both my general? a dead end because actually, what to paint after the monochrome?

I have experienced it: after painting my last monochrome of 1.80 by 1.80 which was not really a true monochrome, rather a shades of beige, this was what I call “an interruption momentary of the program. “Bridled that I was not personal beliefs. resumption of work in 2015: crossing the monochrome. I covered this same golden yellow canvas and painted on it the biblical theme of the Ark of the Covenant. followed by a series of monochrome canvases on which a personal writing sought form. “A diffused light demands its form to nothingness” Taoist philosophy “Men seek light in a fragile garden where colors abound” Jean Tardieu

a challenge. Considering monochrome as the most radical elimination of the subject, I like this reflection of Motherwell: “there is in every work a double aspect: a formal or structural side and a literary side or related to the subject. It is by suppressing the second that we are most likely to see the first, by bringing to light an abstract, universal language. ” an immense desire. Mid 2019 I buy 7 large canvas frames of the most beautiful linen. I paint them each in the 7 colors of the rainbow. I spend several weeks to let myself bathe by their respective light. The temptation is strong again to expose them as they are. the same question comes back “Why paint? But this time not “why paint rather than not paint”, no, I have already answered this question to know “because I am a painter and that art is a process that has existed since the dawn of time and so I participate in this process and this process because I am a painter ” but “why paint monochromes” and the answer is: “I do not know” “I am, I paint and basta! ” As a result of the races, I covered 6 of these magnificent monochromes with spots that had fallen from the sky, and that makes beautiful paintings. I’m going to see what I’ll do in the seventh, and I think maybe one day when I’ve been anointed by the public, I’ll only paint monochrome. 🙂

Interview with Norbert Engel (part 2)

Peinture numérique abstraite

You did not stop at this first stage because of what it is agreed to call the figurative you are spent in the abstract, in paintings whose particularity is always the great presence of the colors that catch the flight. spectator. Why this cape in your painting?

Ah, you also talk about cape! And luckily you do not talk about a change of course 🙂 because for me there is no figurative or abstract dilemma. what I’m trying to represent what I think is essential in what I see or feel it is the “for what” in other words. I paint in a way that I hope will have an impact on the viewer. Sometimes I want to do figurative sometimes abstracting to the maximum. the abstracting can sometimes be a simplification of the forms, a deletion of a maximum of details which does not seem essential to me, or sometimes completely removing the forms by using only the color. the abstract at home is almost always part of nature (what I see, what I feel, what I am) unlike constructivists or Mondrian for example, who create a reality according to precisely defined relationships by the artist and who have no external object. “Why I paint” could perhaps be defined by an inner necessity coupled with an external necessity. the inner necessity is a hidden energy that reveals itself in a random way and that is expressed by spots. Or the spots are shapes that fall from the sky and I just need to color them rather than inventing them. When I do abstract the random is important with respect to the lines. It’s especially for colors that my choices are important. One could say that the lines or shapes fall from the sky or my unconscious and the colors rise from the sea or the earth, so more of my will and this union is born a creation.

So the abstract or figurative question is a false problem. The real challenge is to succeed in doing a work as Bazaine said “who is incarnate”: “That the sensation is embodied in an immediately recognizable reality or that it is embodied in an equivalent reality, there is no between these two processes of creation, of difference of nature, or even of degree. The destiny of the world is not played between the figurative or the abstract, but between the incarnate and the non-incarnate, which is very different. “The incarnate is that relationship of contact between the outer and inner world, while disembodied art qualifies the art that has lost all contact. “In this posture of incarnation vis-à-vis the world and permeability, the forms that we recognize, and are therefore in us. It is not nature that we recognize, but a sensation, but ourselves. ” I totally adhere to this idea, joining in this way all the painters with whom I feel in touch: Matisse, de Staël, Bazaine, and all the American abstract expressionists up to the painters of Pop Art. In fact, all art is abstract to the extent that it is not nature, but a contraction of nature. Every artistic creation is a creation by an inner world that encompasses the outside world. Creation or abstraction is a kind of empathy, an immersion in the world to retain only recognizable forms.