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  • Van Weyenbergh Fine Art

How many great artists are lost on the road of immigration?

Among those who succeed, very few are welcomed with dignity and offered a path of integration. And, if it is proposed to them, it is generally to confine them in the difficult jobs that Europeans no longer want to exercise. Few are (they exist) who can resume studies in medicine or engineering.

No one wonders if, among these people, there are artists who deserve to be encouraged, helped, valued. Either because they were artists in their country of origin; or because placed in reassuring circumstances, they could flourish as artists.

It was not the case in the past. France, in particular, has a long history of welcoming artists from countries at war or in difficult situations, who have found a welcome that has allowed them to flourish. And people who, before starting an artistic career, participated in the construction of French culture. Without going back to Leonardo da Vinci (recognized artist in his country, who crossed the Alps by the same routes that some illegal immigrants are now borrowing), we can cite among these emigrants, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Constantin Brancusi, Nicolas de Stael, but also in literature Irene Nemirovsky, Marina Tsvetayeva. And also in the cinema, the music. They were generally received with open arms, welcomed and protected.

And today? It is much rarer. Young artists from elsewhere, with no paper, no status, or network, are very little helped and supported. More generally, this is true for Europe as a whole, more closed than ever, and thus cutting off the most fruitful branches of the tree of its future. Certainly, among these poorly received migrants, some manage to make a place for themselves, thanks to enlightened gallerists or attentive amateurs. And there are some wonderful initiatives to support them, such as "The Artists' Workshop in Exile." Today, in France, there are many young cooks, musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, singers, dancers, filmmakers and photographers from these exoduses, who are already great promises for the future of their art.

Are we certain today that among all those whom

-we expel or abandon at the edge of our roads,

-who are begging in our streets,

-who are surviving in tents of misery in our cities,

-without papers,

or that we confine ourselves to trades by force, are not there other great talents, in one artistic field or another? Not that we must save the artists: every human being has an equal right to compassion and assistance. But, to take up only the cynical and selfish point of view of those who, in France, take refuge behind the defense of the French identity to refuse any external contribution, can we not recognize that these migrants there have brought immensely to the culture and the identity of the nation who received them? And that the French identity would not be what it is without their contribution.

Let us look differently at what we do not want to see, and welcome, with wonder, what they have to bring to our common greatness. Le journal des arts.

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