From may 3 through july 26, 2003.
We choose here to present moments of divergence on a path whose coherence will still, it is hoped, be peceptible. 34 works on paper are shown, distributed in seven themes :
InThe Story of Philosophy by Bryan Magee, I find a picture of St Peter in the Wardrobe, one of 52 churches built by Christopher Wren in London after the Great Fire of 1666.
The detail of the altar delighted me with its aspect as an instant in a sort of dialectic of marble and carpet. Yet it seemed to me only fair to attempt to give more amplitude to this story and to expand in six acts.
After a verification, it appears that this church would rather be St Andrew by the Wardrobe and that it does not exist anymore.
Observation of reality : the topography of the place ;
Reservation of a 100m square of reality ;
Geometrical representation, inaugural of techological interventions;
Start of a corruption, enrichment process of form with the laying out of ventilation exhausts.
Eventually the third stage was realized.
It was, on a sloping plane of blue marble and in the idiom of a strict geometry, the reinterpretation of her main motif, flow.
During the fabrication of a cardboard model, I photographed some intermediate stage which had the appearance of an opening door.
Looking for a title for this image, I found, in a chronological order :
Onde de Synthèse; Modèle n°9; Onde 004; Lourde; Le Poids des Ondes; La Pointe de l'Onde; Le Socle de l'Eau; Une Onde s'ouvre; L'Onde Lourde; Le Jour de l'Huître; La Pointe de l'Huître.
Rather than making a choice, I juxtaposed four of these moments where the image in search for a label went through shifting visual meanings.
Around 1470 Leonardo da Vinci painted an Annuntiation, now in the Uffizi museum in Florence. On the angel's side the vegetal is represented with Leonardo's well known accuracy of observation; on the Virgin's side plants assume the stylized forms of conventional marble sculpture.
Is this an Annunciation of the coming substitution of empirical science to mediaeval erudition ? The colors and the beautiful frontal composition, in the airy manner of da Vinci, inspired me a play of forms and colors superposed to the opposition of natural to artificial.
The spring of 2003 brought us ample subject of reflexion, anguish and indignation
on the déliquescence of the republican sense of justice and truth in the great
occidental democracies. Thousands of people were killed in Irak to satisfy appetites
for power and wealth. Unavowable in their real motivations, these policies had
to bend to the democratic rules by giving this war an ideological motivation,
both as a moral crusade and -singularly- as a theatrical drama of truth and
lie. One one side were supposed to stand the holders of good and true, agains
the axis of evil- and of deception. Time was not wasted to disqualify the procedures
to establish truth on empirical findings. This war, promoted by an alliance
of fake intellectuals and real swindlers, has a distinctive post-modern cachet,
war here being the continuation of silliness and arrogance by the means of violence.
What is an artist to do ? Would you let yourself be submerged by the feeling of impotence, maybe cynically celebrate the futility of art ? The game is not over, and even if the means of action seem very limited, we are none the less to measure our engagement to our destiny. Desultory as it may seem, our action will not gain in impact by being false.
And so, at my modest scale, I thought I had to assume the power of truth of the work of art, whatever its bearing may be. It is fundamentally correct to think in terms of ideological model rather than esthetical evasion ; we are faced with the requirement of discrimination between true and false, concept and image.
In Synesthesia, the Colours of Shapes, a series de paintings and text of 2001, I applied myself to the production of compositions of colors, minimal in their starting hypothesis : the aim is not retinian gratification, but rather a relationship to an non-pictorial reality : a paradoxical figuration. Not the imaginary projection of a subject on the plane of the painting, possibly enriched with painterly effects, but a quest for an Other in a litterary reality : the name of the thing, and its letter laid out in syllabes. All this happening in a mental place where no naturalistic nor symbolic determination would hold sway. The letter assumes a color through the effect of a synesthetic perception; this color results of the proximity of vowels and consonants, each color standing for a syllabe of the word. The space of the painting is divided in as many syllabes (and thus of colors) as there are in the name. The design is most elementary : taking as subjects for my paintings names of four syllabes, I simply laid out four square expanses of color : two lines of two syllabes, first name and name.
To make clear that any attemps to find here information or enlightenment of
a figurative nature, the only formal cause in action
here being some obscure and absolutely personal mental phenomenon of mine, I
called these -a bit provocatively- selfportraits. Neither shoud one see here a eruption of narcissism : this mental association
of synesthesia is only a readily available impersonal subject-matter, in the spirit of Paul Valery's impersonal introstection of Monsieur Teste.
To truth I owe to admit that the effects of seduction of the form as image persisted even after all these precautions to avoid them. For instance the colored rendition of my name - which stood as signature on the cover of the text- repeated the scheme of other name-paintings done before: names of four syllabes which produced a nice minimalist composition.
The result would have been true to the principles if my name had been something like Terry Gonze.But here I had something nice but a bit false.
Certainly the text here is the operative factor. For the image, I chose one which adresses frankly the bellicose exaltation and idyllic naturalism of the text.
In a text and a series of paintings entitled 'Synesthesia, the Colours of Shapes', I ventured into a systematic exploration of the phenomenon of mental adherences between perceptions of colors and perceptions that belong to other image-making faculties . In fact, this amounts to a grounding of drawing and coloring on another basis than the figuration of a subjective interiority or than the eclecticist manipulation of conventional pictorial signs.
A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes ...
Je remarquais que ces couleurs n'étaient pas celles que j'associais aux lettres. Pour moi, le sonnet aurait eu pour premier vers :
A noir, E blanc, O rouge, U jaune, I bleu: voyelles, ...
Of course I understood that Rimbaud could not be wrong, and neither was I. Contrary to ideas promoted by some romantic and modernist theoricians (most notably Kandinsky), synesthesia cannot be taken as a blueprint for a universal plastic language. The phenomenon is strictly personal.
The drawing I showed contrasted this motif with a background were the colours are an imitative representation of nature:
This motif again is contrasted with nature as camouflage as mimetic rendering of nature.
SYNESTHETIC STILL LIFE.
The TASTE of COLOURS.
Of TASTE and COLOURS.
We find that it is a transposition of the traditional contrast of the landscape to the figure. Landscape here becomes camouflage, a chaotic pattern whose construction (because of my classical bearings) conforms to pictorial constraints of economy of means and confinement in the universe of the canvas. Pages 16-42 of the text " Synesthésies, la Color des Formes " explicitate this aspect of my work.
The drawing exhibited and reproduced on the invitation reproduce the scheme top-right, but with 6 elements to the side :
Before the selection of colours for the Camouflages I wanted to test the effect with hatch patterns. Two prints corresponding to six and seven modules per side were exhibited :
DISCRETE CAMOUFLAGE (mo6).
Reproduced here is the upper-left quarter of the whole.
DISCRETE CAMOUFLAGE (mo7).
Reproduced here is the upper-left quarter of the whole.
The DECOMPOSITION of CHAOS
Another device for a weakening of the drawing is the superimposition of two chaotic camouflages of the same module, same distribution of colors, but slignly different drawing, obtained by two different magical squares. In this case the module is seven.
Reproduced here is the upper-leftt quarter of the whole.
The SUBLIMATION of CHAOS.
Through boolean (logical/arithmetical) operations on the digital representations of colors I produce here two sorts of deconstructions of the pattern.
Reproduced here is the upper-left quarter of the whole.
It is obtained by the combination of a matrix of squares and a grid, each distorted according to the rule of the magical square, and expressed in black and white .
This distribution of four greys can then be used as a matrix for the painting,
where the appropriate amounts of the colours of the names are substituted to
Some of those substitutions, applied to a matrix named EQ89R1 were exhibited :
DISTURBED and RECOMBINED CHESS-BOARD (aspect wwkk)
DISTURBED and RECOMBINED CHESS-BOARD (aspect wwvr)
DISTURBED and RECOMBINED CHESS-BOARD (aspect wwkw)
DISTURBED and RECOMBINED CHESS-BOARD (aspect wkwk)
The painting shown in the Palais de Justice of Brussels united heavy historical names such as 'Fidel castro', 'Dziga Vertov', 'Adolf Hitler' in one synesthetic composition. The message is that although all art should ultimately be judged on its political merits, these should not be understood in simplicistic terms counfounding image and word, image and reality.
A later proposal on the same principles groups four names associated with the Chinese revolution. For the Chemin de Traverses exhibition I chose to show three preliminary studies :
Shown here also were prints of the images included in the text 'La République des couleurs'.
The Republic of the Middle. Self-portraits as Kiong Houa, Chou En Lai, Tchang Kai Chek, Mao Tse Toung.
Dim: 30x30cm. Acrylic and digital print on Canson paper, may'2002.
The Weight of Souls.
Giclée print on watercolor Arches paper, march'02, 27,5x27,5cm.
Le Rose et le Noir.
Giclée print on watercolor Arches paper, march'02, 36x24cm. 6ex.
The Tomb of Justice in Brussels.
Giclée print on watercolor Arches paper, march'02, 55x42,5cm.
MIES in ORBIT, with PALLADIO. Argentic print, 40x40cm, may'2002. 8ex. Partial reproduction.
From an image in perspective such as this Ideal City, one can, through a sort of reverse engineering, reconstitute the parametres of vision; locate, relative to the plane of the canvas, the eye of the observer and each of the represented objects, inasmuch as one admits that those objects are reasonably constituted (i.e. essentially with square angles and euclidean volumes). My own composition, after a careful computation of the parametres of vision, takes back some elements of this urban landscape and submits them to transformative operations between the plane of the painting and the perspective space. Architectural volumes are converted in 2-D outlines, more or less arbitrarily stylized. The 2-D pattern of the pavement in Piero's painting stands in the plane of my canvas as a 2-step grid, a familiar compositional device for architects.
Some patterns reappear as supergraphics on the planes of volumes represented in perspective. The same pattern of the pavement, transferred on the irregular surface of a quilt on a bed, is again projected as an object in space.
To sum up, would not the ideal city be the result of an urbanism of contradictions and ambiguities between the diverses modalities of our imaginary and symbolic representations ?
Organisation : Institut Supérieur pour l'Etude du Langage Plastique. Boulevard de Waterloo 31, 1000 Bruxelles.