Ri­chard Texier, the En­chan­ted Pan­theism

Art Press - - THE ENCHANTED PANTHEISM -

What made you want to go from sculp­ture and pain­ting to di­gi­tal art? What was the trig­ger?

Pantheo-Vor­tex hap­pe­ned about two years ago. I’m going to tell a foun­da­tio­nal sto­ry about how I found my­self in a chan­ged state of mind. Why is it that so­me­times you wake up in the mor­ning and the world looks dif­ferent? That mor­ning I was ea­ting a pear, a Passe-Cras­sane. What hap­pe­ned? I loo­ked at the pear like a Bran­cu­si. I saw the li­ving pul­sa­tion of a whole en­chan­ted me­cha­nism around me, and I stu­died it clo­se­ly the way you’d look at a ma­jor art­work. I saw the subt­le­ty of its skin, the lit­tle dots of ocher and sien­na dot­ting the sur­face. I loo­ked at it, tur­ning it around and around. I saw how the pri­mor­dial flo­wer had chan­ged in­to a lit­tle anus, and the um­bi­li­cal chord that con­nec­ted it to the tree as it ri­pe­ned. I cut it, and found that the flesh was white, tas­ty, with a unique odor. A minute la­ter it was gone, and I said to my­self, “You’re a bar­ba­rian. You just des­troyed a na­tu­ral mas­ter­piece. You don’t feel the sligh­test guilt and you don’t know how to put it back to­ge­ther again.” That’s the es­sence of bar­ba­rism. And then I said to my­self that na­ture, the whole en­chan­ted pan­theist pa­ckage around us, is al­ways gi­ving us pre­sents: a co­ol rain in win­ter, a lit­tle breeze, a sun­beam, run­ning in­to a friend, won­der­ful, com­plex odors when you walk through a park or the coun­try­side, a fish that ends up on your table… There are so ma­ny of these gifts, so abun­dant and won­der­ful. Why don’t we see them more of­ten? Can an ar­tist, in his own mo­dest way, try to re­present that ma­gic, that mys­te­ry, in an un­dog­ma­tic and non­re­li­gious fa­shion? Does that fall wi­thin the ope­ra­tio­nal field of his skills? So that’s what I tried to do, but it was a long shot. As eve­ry­bo­dy knows, the ze­ro de­gree of pain­ting is the mo­no­chrome. We’re fa­mi­liar with how va­rious ar­tists have ex­plo­red them in dif­ferent ways. But what’s the ze­ro de­gree of the image? I thought that a white egg against a white back­ground would be pret­ty close. So I tried it. « Elas­to-gé­nèse ». 2014. Ins­tal­la­tion au parc Mont­sou­ris, Pa­ris. (Ph. Jade Quin­tin ; © Ri­chard Texier).

“Elas­to-ge­ne­sis.” Ins­tal­la­tion in Parc Mont­sou­ris, Pa­ris I be­gan to paint when I was ve­ry young, when I was about 11 or 12, in the most clas­si­cal way, with oils. It was na­tu­ral to use this ba­sic vo­ca­bu­la­ry. I com­po­sed a white egg against a white back­ground on a 180 x 120 cen­ti­me­ter can­vas, a for­mat big enough to en­ter in­to a dia­logue with the bo­dy, a kind of 2D al­ter ego of the hu­man pre­sence in the world, and al­so big enough for energetic bru­sh­work. I star­ted to paint that egg right in the middle of the can­vas. Af­ter friends, in­tel­lec­tuals I knew, came to vi­sit, I rea­li­zed that they were all im­pres­sed with my vir­tuo­si­ty. They had no idea that I could paint in such a clas­si­cal, simple style, dis­playing so much tech­nique. So I stop­ped, be­cause the trompe-l’oeil egg was too much like hy­per­rea­lism, and that ap­proach was ex­haus­ted in the 1970s. There’s no point in doing so­me­thing, no mat­ter how well, if others have al­rea­dy done it a thou­sand times bet­ter. That’s when I got the idea of wor­king with the most ad­van­ced tools of our time, ta­king ad­van­tage of the pos­si­bi­li­ties tech­no­lo­gy of­fers to­day (Pho­to­shop, for ge­ne­ra­ting images, and Pho­to­shop pro). I took up this pro­ject me­tho­di­cal­ly and pug­na­cious­ly. I or­ga­ni­zed a team with some ve­ry young people who were com­ple­te­ly at home with these tools and more or less willing to act as my di­gi­tal paint­brushes. I qui­ck­ly rea­li­zed, thanks to them, that it would be pos­sible, if still dif­fi­cult, to ren­der the world’s mys­te­ry and ma­gic. We used this soft­ware as a ta­lis­man for our pro­ject. Each stage was as­sis­ted by the most ad­van­ced tech­no­lo­gy and ma­te­rials. We used or­ga­nic por­ce­lain, which is ve­ry white, to iso­late the images, and Dia­sec prints on spe­cial­ly made pear­li­zed pa­per. We thought through all the pa­ra­me­ters we set. Eve­ry­thing was ca­re­ful­ly consi­de­red and col­lec­ti­ve­ly en­ri­ched. The point was to re-en­chant the world while re­thin­king the image? Right. That was rein­for­ced by a recent residency in Bur­ma, where na­ture is still like it was at the be­gin­ning of time, in­cre­di­bly ge­ne­rous and luxu­riant. The fruits, trees, plants and flo­wers there are unique. It’s real­ly a vir­gin area. My trip was a voyage in time as well as space. The West and its mad­ness haven’t rea­ched Bur­ma, not yet, though it won’t take long. The people are ve­ry Bud­dhist, ve­ry spi­ri­tual. They live ac­cor­ding to an an­cient tra­di­tion that’s ba­si­cal­ly a ce­le­bra­tion of pan­theism. I wasn’t real­ly in­fluen­ced by that be­cause I was al­rea­dy going in that di­rec­tion, but it made my in­ten­tions more ra­di­cal. When I got home I threw my­self in­to it ve­ry se­rious­ly, with a lot of com­mit­ment to this new ar­tis­tic stra­te­gy, and at the same time I wor­ked ve­ry calm­ly, as if car­rying out a per­so­nal ex­pe­riment.

A BRAN­CU­SI PEAR

This new se­ries seems to condense and sim­pli­fy all the ques­tions you were po­sing and all the ans­wers you were loo­king for. There are fe­wer ele­ments, less pro­fu­sion. The com­plexi­ty is re­du­ced to the in­ter­ior of a single visual ele­ment. Do you feel a kind of concen­tra­tion, in the ques­tions and ans­wers? In fact, a sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of visual ef­fects was a wor­king hy­po­the­sis for the Pantheo

Vor­tex. The com­po­si­tion is wi­thout ar­ti­fice—just the pale struc­tures, opals sus­pen­ded as if they were hal­lu­ci­na­ted— which make its har­der to read the images and the com­plexi­ty of what I was trying to do, the at­tempt at an ar­tis­tic re­so­lu­tion. It be­came al­most im­me­dia­te­ly ap­pa­rent that I had to eli­mi­nate any ar­tis­tic or com­po­si­tio­nal ef­fect. I didn’t want to re­ly on my skills as a pain­ter, so I just for­got eve­ry­thing I knew. I nee­ded to act using to­tal­ly new means of ex­pres­sion, and at the same time I was ob­ses­sed with gi­ving praise to the whole en­chan­ted pan­theis­tic pre­sence that I felt all around me and that eve­ry day beau­ti­fies our lives, the suc­ces­sion of mi­nutes of our days, the pre­sence in the world of this me­cha­nism that is so phe­no­me­nal­ly ge­ne­rous with us. We Oc­ci­den­tals don’t want to see it; we’re in a state of ob­ses­sive de­nial of that rea­li­ty.

Which real­ly, we’re rui­ning. Yes. Maybe what needs to be done about that is so­me­thing ca­thar­tic. Maybe art is a va­lid way to do that. If that were so, it would be mar­ve­lous, even though I’m

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