KENISMAN  (°1978, Belgium)

The aim of art is not to copy nature, but to express it!
— Honoré De Balzac (1831)

KENISMAN is considered as one of the profound leaders of the current underground avant-garde. His movement does not allow creativity to be blurred by a previsioned image to be (re-) produced on paper. KENISMAN's approach lies in the pure and undistracted concentration on the natural evolution of lines and shapes under the artist's hand. EYE=I


When a rifleman aims at his target, he knows what he wants to do. He wants to hit the bull's-eye. Before he shoots, he knows what the target is; he knows that the black circle in the center of it is the bull's-eye; and he knows that hitting the bull's-eye consists in causing a bullet to pass through that black circle.

He also knows, before he has squeezed the trigger, that if, after he has squeezed it, a hole appears in the black circle, he will have succeeded in doing what he wanted to do; and that if there isn't a hole there, he will have failed. Furthermore, the rifleman knows what he ought to do to hit the bull's-eye. He knows what position he ought to assume, how he ought to adjust the sling, where exactly he ought to place his left hand, where he ought to place the butt so that it fits his shoulder and cheek, what the sight picture ought to be, how he ought to exhale a little and then hold his breath when the sight picture is correct, and how he ought to squeeze off the shot without knowing exactly when the explosion will come, so that he won't flinch until after it is too late to spoil his aim.

If, after the rifleman has attempted to obey all these rules, he fails to hit the bull's-eye, any person can tell him, and the rifleman will agree, that he did fail; and that, since he did, he had not obeyed all the rules. For, if he had obeyed them, there necessarily would have been a hole in the bull's-eye.

If, on the other hand, he does hit the bull's-eye, the white disc is displayed and the rifleman is congratulated. He is congratulated, whether the people who congratulate him realize it or not, for having been able to learn and to obey all the rules.

When we congratulate an artist for being creative, however, it is not because he was able to obey rules that were known before he painted his picture or wrote his novel or poem, so that thereby he succeeded in doing what had been done before. We congratulate him because he embodied in colors or in language something the like of which did not exist before, and because he was the originator of the rules he implicitly followed while he was painting or writing.

The academic painter or writer is like the rifleman. He, too, aims at a known target, and he hits his bull's-eye by obeying known rules. As Sir Joshua Reynolds wrote:

By studying carefully the works of great masters, this advantage is obtained; we find that certain niceties of expression are capable of being executed, which otherwise we might suppose beyond the reach of art. This gives us a confidence in ourselves; and we are thus incited to endeavor at not only the same happiness of execution, but also at other congenial excellencies. Study indeed consists in learning to see nature, and may be called the art of using other men's minds.

Unlike either the rifleman or the academic painter or writer, Kenisman does not initially know what his target is. Although he seems to himself to be aiming at something, it is not until just before he affixes his signature or seal of approval to his work that he finds out that this is the determinate thing he was all along "aiming" at, and that this was the way to bring it into being. Kenisman does not already envisage the final result. He does not therefore already have an idea or image of it. And his activity therefore is not controlled, as in the rifleman or academic painter case, by a desire for an envisaged result and beliefs about how to obtain it.

We do not judge a painting, poem, or other work to be a work of creative art unless we believe it to be original. If it strikes us as being a repetition of other paintings or poems, if it seems to be the result of a mechanical application of a borrowed technique or style to novel subject matter, to the degree that we apprehend it as such, to the same degree we deny that it is creative. There are men who have trained themselves to paint in the manner of Rembrandt, and some have become so good at it that even an expert aided by X-rays may find it hard to decide that their pictures were not painted by Rembrandt.

To create is to originate. Kenisman follows from this that prior to creation the creator does not foresee what will result from it.

As T. E. Hulme put it; to predict it would be to produce it before it was produced.

For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.
— Ion,534. Plato

Kenisman has a sense that his activity is directed, that it is heading somewhere. Now the cash value of the statement that the artist has a sense of being engaged in a directed activity, of going somewhere despite the fact that he cannot say precisely where he is going while he is still on the way, is that he can say that certain directions are not right. If there were in him no tendency to go in a certain direction, he would not resist being pulled in just any direction. This element of conscious resistance to the lure of beckoning side paths, or the exercise of critical judgment, is what sets his creative activity apart from activity that is acquiescent to the leadership of revery.

According to Brand Blanshard, invention turns on a surrender to the workings of necessity in one's mind. There is in Kenisman a surrender of the will to an order whose structure is quite independent of it and whose affirmation through the mind is very largely so. Its being subject to critical control sets his art apart from the art of the insane.

But he who, having no touch of the Muses’ madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple by the help of art he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man disappears and is nowhere when he enters into rivalry with the madman.
— Phaedrus, 245. Plato

In Kenisman's creative process, two moments may constantly be distinguished, the moment of inspiration, when the new suggestion appears, and the moment of development or elaboration. The moment of inspiration is sometimes accompanied by exalted feelings, and this is why, according to Charles Lamb, it is confused with madness. According to Lamb, men, finding in the raptures of the higher poetry a condition of exaltation, to which they have no parallel in their own experience, besides the spurious resemblance of it in dreams and fevers, impute a state of dreaminess and fever to the poet. But the true poet dreams being awake. He is not possessed by his subject but has dominion over.