Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Paris is full of intriguing people and unexpected encounters. Take Michael Stasinos. Since a couple of days I saw him standing there for hours and hours on the little square of the Marais, painting patiently the urban landscape.
He seemed so deeply sank into his work that I didn’t dare to interrupt him. When I was passing by, I only figured out that he was painting with tiny, little brushes, hardly a couple of hairs, working like a watchmaker with colours, fixing what he saw and meticulousy translating it on canvas.
There it was: our little square, populated only by some lime- and plane trees, a bench, a bunch of pigeons, some scooters and, of course, Turenne Enfant, the sculpture. Michael didn’t only paint what he saw, he got the atmosphere, too: a Paris street scene which, a hundred years ago, basically could have looked the same – except the scooters, of course.
Today, I finally talked to him. “Turenne Enfant” was finished, after days and days of work out in the cold. Michael had just turned around, grabbing the next view, down rue de Turenne with “le Bistrot” and its red awning where he loves to sit down and warm up a bit.
“All painting ends up being beautiful”, he said – and that’s quite a statement. But I guess he’s right. Even though he doesn’t omit ugliness – he includes garbage cans and roadblocks – his painting still looks idyllically, ideally Parisian. It must be the human gaze that gives it the final beauty.
Here is video of Michael talking about Paris: ph6LozMc2t0
I wondered why there weren’t any people in his paintings? “They move too fast”, Michael said, “they stay a couple of minutes, then they disappear”. Strangely, he added, that, in New York, he prefers to paint people. Whereas in Paris it’s the urban landscape that fascinates him.
Michael Stasinos is not a Parisian painter as you might think. He’s actually living in Seattle where he is often working outside and teaching at art school. Have a look on his website or visit his gallery. He just came to Paris for a month to paint. He likes being outside, not only because it becomes, as he says, “a wrestling match with optics and perception, when paintings are done at the location”. He also meets a lot of people, talking to him, asking questions. “Unfortunately”, Michael says, “my French is very poor”.
Paris is quite a challenge for him. “The sidewalks are so narrow, it’s not easy to find a place to paint.” On the other hand, he adds, he doesn’t need to walk a long way to find a motive. The beauty is everywhere. “I just walk out of my door, and I’m there.”