Alain Blondel’s Disparities of Poetry and Painting
Alain Blondel paints with letters and speaks in colours. A former poet who transcended his art form, he now imbues his second life as a painter with the guiding principles of his writings.
The result is a coming together of two art forms with such a depth that the two essentially become indistinguishable, feeding into one another so as to create an entirely new medium of artistic expression.
His paintings originate from his book, Disparities, a long poem written during is first life as a poet, and from which every line of text and selection of words with which paints is derived.
His latest exhibition at Gallery 24B in the heart of Paris is a reflection and culmination of his impressive achievements in merging these two disparate art forms.
Paintings rendered through his manic use of letters as pigments, imbuing his work with empty spaces charged with the significance of a pause between stanzas in a musical opus. Large scale works suspended with invisible strings to give the effect of walking through a forest of softly moving paintings. Small paintings presented as books and fixed to the walls in a playfully self reflective gesture towards this harmony of poetry and painting. The role curation played in the exhibition was instrumental in bringing the underlying complexity of the mediums within Blondel's work to life and was born from an impressive collaboration with Ingrid Pux of HM Conseils and who has worked in the realm of art and culture in Paris for over a decade.
Looking at Blondel's paintings, you feel as if you're looking into the poetic chaos of an artist's mind.The longer you gaze at the madness, the more structured it becomes, and slowly, words begin to appear.. your eyes darting between the overlapping letters, the words begin to connect, forming sentences stretching out like cobwebs across the canvas. And this is precisely the intention, for such a personal work of art to transfer into the viewer and engage them in turn, allowing for one's own connections to be formed.
And in another brilliant collaboration of mediums, Blondel's paintings were given a digital representation in honour of his exhibition at 24B, with the help of Weborama, who developed the algorithm called BigFish in collaboration with Dominique Quessada that essentially replicates the process of connections created while viewing Blondel's paintings. As you watch, words appear on the screen, coming in and out view. Lines are drawn between each word surrounded by an aura of colour. As your eyes dart back and forth between the dynamic dance of words and colours, connections are formed as sentences and thoughts are born.
We spoke with Blondel at during the exhibition to gain more insight into his multi-layered, duo-disciplined creative world. This is what we discovered…
CM: Where do your paintings begin?
It starts from sentences, words, and what is just behind, when you stop the little music you have in your mind, little music which is mainly composed with words... words words... sentences... what we call thoughts.
Rythmn... what I keep in mind always is rythmn, words sentences, texts, could be summed up as rythmn.
CM: What goes through your head?
CM: Is there a sound to this silence?
When I start painting, I have to stop what I call "little music." I have to stop it. To step in silent spaces with nothing except maybe the noise of the pencil or the brushes on the canvas and paper. And it's totally silent. It is like meditation. I don't practice meditation, but it is something similar to that.
All these words produced are made on the basis of silent situations. This is the strange part, that this text fills me with words that I must evacuate. I have to make a step back from it. And something opens... It's made with the body, maybe, and it's a kind of relation between the canvas and the body. No new frontier, nothing, it's just walls.
CM: Can you tell us more about the creative process that leads to the birth of your paintings?
What is special is that I do not know what I am doing, and I have no plan or idea of what it could be, except for a small constraints in how I execute the it–for example, in some paintings, I mark out spaces–blank circles–first and paint around them.
The painting is a birth. When I put the last letter down, then I can see what I have done, but not before, it could be a surprise, it would be a disappointment.
CM: Are you ever disappointed with the result?
Yeah, absolutely! To create something that results in "nothing" and you don't know why... It's not a question of forms or an aesthetic question. I don't know the reason, sometimes it is because the contact has not been made with the canvas. What I call contact is the space between my body and the canvas, where everything takes places, and it is only at the end of the painting that I realise that is has not been made.
CM: There is a real lightness in your work...
I try to avoid in my work what the French call "L'esprit de sérieux" the spirit of seriousness. It's an illness. The text Disparities is an opportunity for me to explore and play, lightly.
CM: This exhibition is the culmination of your poetry and painting–was there a specific point at which these two parts of you came together?
To be frank... it wasn't an idea, it just happened one day. I had to tell a story about an encounter I had when I was seven years old, and I tried for 20 years to represent that scene. And each time I tried to do it, it turned into nothing. I decided to write it down on a canvas, and when I finished the story, I was so surprised to see all that! It was something of a revelation, because I previously has the idea to be a poet, and suddenly each of these two parts of myself came together. I had reached a point where everything was consolidated.
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