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  • 1987 - Jean-Louis Ferrier (Art Historian)


The island, the tree and the borie. The island to which one reaches the end of a navigation or of a flight, central, eminent: the tree, symbol of verticality that rushes towards the sky, axis of the world, ancestor, figure of life in perpetual evolution: the borie, initial residence of the men, dry stone caves, inverted island.. It is, it seems to me, around these three archetypes that the present work of Grataloup culminates.

Archetype, that is to say "a priori" forms of the unconscious, as there are "a priori" forms of understanding based on rules of logic, but functioning, in a more complex way, by flights of images, as shown by C.--G. Jung and even, here, by flocks of colors.

There are artists, indeed, who stain and paraphent, graffiti, impale galore.Grataloup is not one of these: his canvases that come from afar, from Goethe for whom "colour is the expression and pain of light", from Runge and his sphere of colours, from Schopenhauer, from Novalis.With, in their nucleus, kinds of rainbow or psychic aurora borealis where the red is fire and blood, the green water and lightning, the dead violet and sublimation.The antipodes of Newton’s spectral analysis, which is only ever directed at our retinal receptors.

However, his painting is no less physical than metaphysical and, in this, alchemical insofar as the alchemist is the sage who reaches, through and in a constantly repeated work of matter, the high regions of spirituality.Because, unlike the expressionisms that mount the tones arbitrarily, Grataloup is a rigorous colorist, in line with traditional and modern French painting.

"When I put on a green, it doesn’t mean the grass;when I put on a blue, it doesn’t mean the sky," Matisse wrote. His sentence can be understood in two ways.Namely that the modern painter has now acquired the right to transgress the image of the visible as he sees fit and, in a deeper way, that even if the grass is green and the blue sky in a painting, it is necessary to see neither grass nor sky, but coloured flat.

So it goes with Grataloup, with the difference, of course, that it aims, him, through the pleasure of the eye, the breadth of the mind.

What I like about his islands, his trees and his bories is that they are paint.I mean that archetypes, instead of remaining philosophical or literary, incarnate themselves, take body pictorially. This can be seen in any of his canvases, and above all, perhaps, in those in which Goethe paraphrases and turns him in his opposite, we can say that "light is the expression and happiness of color".

Grataloup, full light.Yes, decidedly, from an eminent island to an axial tree, the bories being their shadow mouth - that’s the Omega point of this exhibition.

Jean-Louis Ferrier (Art Historian) - 1987

Text accompanying the exhibition catalogue - Galerie Lavignes-Bastille - July 1989


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