"THE GREAT EXPERIMENTAL PRINCIPLE IS DOUBT,
THE PHILOSOPHICAL DOUBT THAT GIVES THE MIND FREEDOM
father of the "experimental method"
For the young man I was, the terms New Figuration or Narrative Figuration were totally unfamiliar. After frequenting museum art, I had discovered, as my interest in art grew, certain works that had been designated by these terms. It was no longer a question of contemplating masterpieces in places of culture, but of discovering the works of these painters in galleries or at friends' homes, whom I would meet in their studios, and with whom I would talk at events in Paris or the suburbs, in modest or famous places. With them, I discovered their thoughts, their ambitions, the complexity of their thinking, their lives, their emotions and their aesthetic choices. I met the older writers and critics who defended them. Mainly, the astonishing curator Pierre Gaudibert, the poet Alain Jouffroy whom I was already reading, the critics Gérald Gassiot-Talabot, Anne Tronche,
Michel Troche, Jean-Luc Chalumeau... Each of them, in their own way, had named groups, described movements that existed, more or less, thanks to their proposals. It is no longer time to revive the existence of these creators, based on overviews already extensively documented and analyzed, notably in the works of Jean Clair, Anne Tronche, Ca-therine Millet, Jean-Louis Pradel, François Pluchart... to name but a few. When Galerie Strouk and Marie Laborde asked me to write about a selection of artists who had been key figures in these artistic trends, as well as a few other creators from the surrounding area, I was talking about painters whose work I knew, but above all, despite the disappearance of some of them, living artists, rich in memories, discussions, intellectual exchanges and, for some, shared projects. They existed, above all, not as members of a group, but as singular personalities, far removed from general considerations and critical categories. In the 1970s, together with a few writer, graphic designer and photographer friends, we created a literature and art magazine, EXIT, which devoted interviews or poetic writings to many of them: Valerio Adami, Peter Klasen, Gé-rard Schlosser, Jacques Monory, Ivan Messac, Bernard Rancillac, Peter Stämpfli, Hervé Télé-maque... With others, I subsequently worked on solo or group exhibitions, or on public commission projects: Eduardo Arroyo, Gérard Fromanger, Alain Jacquet... I remember sharing some wonderful moments of exchange or discussion with Antonio Seguí or Erró. Without ever having met him, I remember conversations with Hervé Télémaque and Anne Tronche about Michel Tyszblat, whose work they loved and commented on attentively. Many of these artists knew each other, visited each other and followed the development of their work. Along the way, they all escaped the critical categories that had brought them together, and, starting from their own universe, created, as we can see, highly diverse works. One thing is certain: they are not realists. They don't try to paint what's in front of their eyes, but what's inside them, including their singularity, the systems, structures and processes that produce them as individuals and shape their gaze. The richness of their sources, references, devices and montages is astonishing. It's not images they paint, but the results of cross-fertilizing linguistics, popular imagery, legends, current events, the written word, which is very present in their paintings, the unconscious, eros and... I'm tempted to say, like Jacques Prévert, not to conclude, a "ra-ton laveur", for humor, a pronounced taste for parties and experiments of all kinds were familiar to them. They were also, as the critics of the time clearly saw, the children of Ro-land Barthes and his Mythologies, to which they added, as if to better situate themselves in society, sharing a closeness and an otherness with everyone: the adjective quotidien or Mytho-logies quotidiennes. The surprise, it seems to me, is that in 2023, these mythologies have a long life, and are no longer subject to calendar measures, for an indefinite time.
Looking at today's young painters, they are not without posterity.