…the artist must not become a storyteller. The anecdote should not exist in painting. A picture or subject imposes itself, and it alone knows how profound and vertiginous it is. Nothing happens in a picture, it simply is; it exists by essence or does not exist at all. Baudelaire said a poem is there before it is there. Otherwise, it would be akin to something narrative, something inflected, willed into being by the artist. A picture or poem escapes these contingencies, with terrifying freedom and fiercely self-sufficient violence. In this sense, the artists is a mere link in a chain that began long ago. At Lascaux, for example, and even before Lascaux. There is no hierarchy, and Chardin is not better than Lascaux. All these creative connections belong to the same earthly song, from the ancient source of the world that I know nothing about, but which sends me a few messages by flashes of sun—or starlight. The artist constantly seeks to rediscover the illuminating fire, the hearth where sparks are made.
From Balthus’ memoir Vanished Splendors.