Jonas Mekas on Miotte vu par Raúl Ruiz
DKR – Would you discuss the way Jean Miotte’s painting compliments the medium of cinema?
JM – Painting and cinema are two different arts and every art is an art in itself. But all muses are on the same Olympus and they talk to one another. I can tell you why I like Ruiz’s film. In the first place I like it because it does not tell what Jean Miotte’s paintings are all about. Rather it is about the process of painting, struggling, sweating, getting tired, and fighting. It is one of the best films I have seen that deals with the struggle and hard work of making a painting. For me that is the essence of this film.
DKR – How do you feel about the analogies that Raoul Ruiz draws between music and the work of Jean Miotte?
JM – I really didn’t like the music in it. I think the best parts were the real-life sounds when he is breathing. The music distracted me and worked against the film. The Japanese music was a disaster but the film is still there.
DKR – Could you discuss Ruiz’s technique of mounting a camera directly on Jean Miotte’s brush?
JM – That subjectivity is characteristic of Ruiz’s camera work in all of his films. He finds the most unique angles that nobody else would even think of, and he is very sensitive to whatever else is happening around with light and shadows. His inventiveness has no end. That’s one of the things that makes his films interesting. No matter what the subject is, he explores the very essence of the location or place.
DKR – Could you discuss the notion of gesture in Jean Miotte’s painting and Raoul Ruiz’s cinematography?
JM – The way I see is it is: there is this canvas in front of you and Miotte is surging to make the first attack, because there is a fight going on between him and this canvas. The film has everything to do with this intense moment when he is puffing and groaning and talking to himself. Miotte’s paintings jump out of him with a certain immediacy. Gesture for me is the very physical gesture of an attack. There is a lot of that in what Ruiz recorded. I don’t think Miotte did that just for the film, I think that’s the way he works. And of course he’s not the only one, others from the Action Painting period worked similarly. This is one of the films for anybody who wants to study artist’s at work. That is what it means to make a work of art, to struggle and fight like a boxer in the ring.
Miotte vu par Raúl Ruiz, a documentary by Raoul Ruiz on painter Jean Miotte was screened at Anthology Film Archives on May 3rd, 2002. Miotte Vu Par Ruiz, 2001, 80 minutes, 16mm color. Distributed by Duende pictures.