by Christophe Massé
Landscape over landscapes
What I feel when looking at an artwork – in this case a painting – always leads me back to what art I already know, what I have seen already. With places, and landscapes, it’s the same. They give me the same feeling. Then, if I feel that a painting tells me more, I assure myself that I am on the right track, and I let myself go on to feel a new kind of pleasure, the intensity that comes over you when looking at a new landscape. A place that I have, in fact, never seen before, since I’ve never been there. From that emotion arises a very clear image. An image with the same consistence as the painting. Filled with the gold of discovery; like when you see subtle areas, musical notes as it were, shine inside shades of black. Those things that let you know that between Nature and art there is a narrow crack, a small passway. It is the delicacy of a pencil, waiting for the gel to be scratched later on. It’s the power of emotion that expresses itself when you are overcome with such newness before you, in such a natural way.
This, maybe a bit strangely, also has to do with beauty.
I’ve often felt a lot of affinity with abstract landscapes. Maybe because as a child I was so impressed by the art of the fifties which was familiar to me. Most of it was part of my grandfather, Ludovic Massé’s collection. Amongst them: Atlan, Lapoujade, Guitet, Schneider, Tobey, Lanskoy, and many more. For me, a little boy sitting on a carpet, they were immense landscapes without houses, trees or people.
So perhaps that is why today I have a tendency to turn away from a certain kind of art, the one that seems to be situated in a certain space and time; it lacks the strength to rise above a culture of a specific period, and often it is not even aware that it existed. Neither immense canvases nor new colours can change that. It’s a very important matter, to be able to use light and its intensity in order to become akin to the nature of things… like, for instance, human nature.
That is why this moment sometimes comes by instinct: in the act of looking, and as a part of the talent the painter may have to be contemporary, an artist of his own time, and to say it. An art work that could belong to this past generation comes with its own energy, and rises beyond the place where it is shown. A work that immediately provides pleasure, and that creates the need to watch it, the eagerness to understand how it originated, or even to invent the answer to that question, using the words one commonly uses for such questions.
An art work which also has a strange relation to beauty.
And that is the case with Cathrine Muryn’s paintings. They carry light and intensity which comes from a certain restraint as well as a strong expressivity. Hesitation combined with freedom and craft, which disappears once it reaches the edge of the canvas. A depth absorbing the eye until it looks at its three dimensions, turning the process of looking into a ballet of shapes and imaginary perspectives, which go forth and back between the dream and the reality of a landscape, in effect creating this unique sensation that only paintings can create. The many layers of paint offering complete immersion into the artwork, makes one breathe intensely : I am completely inside a landscape of paint, laid over another landscape of paint, laid over yet another landscape of paint,… and so on, almost endlessly.
As many layers as there are, explaining how the life of the painter will always be right there, inside that space of time, covering up and starting over. And then, inside that light, and with that intensity, subtle stories are at play. Behind the long work of covering and covering yet more layers, appears in many different ways, an immense energy, going from left to right, up and down, from right to left and from down back upward, whether looked at horizontally or vertically. The eye fixes itself. The light stays, to create this illusion that the canvas is no longer there, and the landscape itself has well disappeared underneath another landscape, and underneath yet another one, or simply under that of the painting.
Bordeaux, 12 December 2007
Visual artist, writer, directs the collection délirien literary editor at Pierre Mainard