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  • 1986 - Marianne Raabe


Interview between Grataloup, Jaccard and Viallat by Marianne Raabe in November 1986

Viallat : You are preparing at the Lavignes-Bastille Gallery an exhibition of your works that span a decade: can you specify, in a relatively simple way, your career path?

Grataloup : My painting has not changed in the sense of the practice since I work since I always work from a matrix, that is to say a drawing cut in a canvas, then rubbed and marouflé. At the time my canvases consisted only of landscapes. I worked on the canvas itself, I studied the monochromes; in fact my concern was the monochromatic landscape. Then, about five years ago, the figure came in. The figure and the plans. One thing is certain, my practice leads to a multiplicity of possibilities. If the character intervenes, it is frankly and systematically as an element stuck on… This allows its interchangeability with respect to a space/background, a background/space. I cut, glue over and glue over again. The possibilities are unlimited.

Viallat: The reproduction of the figure was therefore a necessity for you?

Grataloup: My landscapes needed to be identified within an idea.Before as a starting motif the ornamental figuration they could very quickly deviate and become decorative or purely chromatic.The expression of these three modes had to be recovered.They have appeared with a problem that remains, in the end, always the same and that of space, but instead of being a pure chromatic space – monochromatic – it is a plastic, formal transposition of a real space that needed a figure to live.

Viallat: In relation to the vegetal proliferation of paintings of 76, your characters now manage to give a scale.In fact, the themes led to the creation of your painting.

Grataloup: My theme is quite evolutionary: it started with couples inspired by oriental ornamental fashion.Absolutely anonymous, they were reported several times on different canvases with a plant curtain, placing spaces by dark or light cuts -- in fact, a scale of chromatic values - then they became erotic – I would even say very quickly erotic – because it was the representation of a naked couple in an idyllic landscape.Thus, he was there, in a world that was little understood, but with his triumphant vitality.In other canvases, the fall of a character became that of Icarus;it was indeed the fall of the spirit into matter, a bit like a lost earthly paradise, because matter would have intervened.

Jaccard: It is often said that painting is a paradise, especially in the twentieth century, to the extent that everything is possible, but as soon as choices are to be made, it becomes a hell.However, in your painting, this notion is completely evacuated.

Grataloup: Yes, truth and beauty express the pathetism of man who runs in all directions and who tries nevertheless to find something possible, a light, despite the impossibility of situations.Do we not think that painting will give us a recognition of ourselves?

Viallat: This notion of light, in your recent work, is represented by rays that cross the canvas.On the other hand, some are lined with gold and your ladders, too, are gilded with leaf.Why this intervention of gold and light?

Grataloup: Gold intervenes like a mysterious matter.It is a little out of the painter’s palette.It is incommunicability and the divine mystery.When I represent a golden scale, it is a possibility to pass from one world to another;as for the ray of light, in its simplicity and complexity, it is the idea of material light.

Jaccard: Grataloup, we have not mentioned what mainly constitutes your painting: this practice of rubbing, a kind of manipulation of the canvas that serves as a vehicle for labyrinthine drawings.

Viallat: And which is both constant and duality.

Grataloup: There is indeed a duality and at the same time nothing was possible without this systematic practice of lacerated drawing, matrix and rubbing.Nothing is and will be possible without this preliminary space resulting from my practice.I take a piece in a general spatial focus, an optical experience.It may be a field, it’s a bit like the sea, it’s far, it’s big, it’s huge;it can be broken up.

Viallat: It is the creation of the world.

Grataloup: Yes, it is a piece of the world, that I can, thanks to the practice of rubbing multiply as I desire.I make huge canvases and small canvases.I take the pieces of the pieces and multiply them.I made large canvases on the Awakening of the mineral where there was five or six times the same piece presented with chevrons which, optically, prevented a too obvious repetition.These series are limitless, they can last forever.... What can change are the formal elements that come into play.

Viallat: Tell us also about the thinker

Grataloup: The thinker, this kind of philosopher maculated with matter before an awakening of the mineral?This is our image, our self-portrait.Anyway, we only do self-portraits.

Jaccard: What catches my attention in your recent paintings are the material modalities that you implement and that standardize your work.I want to talk about this practice of rubbing which is necessarily linked – metaphysically – to the triumphant couple and also to the fall of Icarus.

Grataloup: For a very long time, we wanted to separate and systematize the genres.However, in my opinion, everything is in everything.The one who starts from a metaphysical idea will arrive at nothing.For me, the real plastician is the one who systematically starts from a practice.It brings its dimension, like the one I find in Claude Viallat and Christian Jaccard.

Viallat: You should replace the term plastician with that of painter.

Grataloup: Okay.So we’re all painters.


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