In the Herman Melville* novel published in 1856, the narrator notices from his piazza a ‘certain ill-defined object’, his curiosity stirred up, he decides to go out and meet it.
From a piazza, sheltered, we look at the world; we take in the surrounding landscapes. It is the impressions of this world seen from the veranda that Gérard Traquandi wants us to see, he’s trying to bring to the surface of the canvas the colored sensations of the world he’s looking at. His daily strolls in the countryside, the Italian primitives and Fra Angelico’s painting he often likes to watch. It is the reminiscences of the colors seen in these artworks that appear on the exhibited canvases. All of these new works were completed these last few months in his workshops in Paris and nearby Marseille.
“In the recent work by Gérard Traquandi, we find an experiment with absorption. Something has been absorbed or is being absorbed. This is as true for the magnificently matte and complex surfaces of his paintings as it is for his photos. An effect that takes us back to the canvas impregnation process, by contact with another surface on which the color is laid. This produces a background, on which another application of paint is superimposed. This time it is closer to a motif, in a more “drawn” form. Such procedures transform the relationship between the painted surface and the action they originate from. The result is rich in contradictions. In the matte aspect of the surface, contrary to gloss, no dramatic divide between the eye and the painting is introduced, and any identifiable representation creating “geometry” in the painting is absent, opening a perspective volume.
It seems to beg a form of immersion that has none of the dissolving “oceanic” character one would expect. On the contrary, this absorption seems taut, worked using tensions and rhythms as shapes of a surface energy. The surfaces of Gérard Traquandi’s paintings are alive, they vibrate as though keeping a trace of complex operations, transfers by contact and different execution speeds. All this creates a sensitivity of times past, the paradox between pure abstraction and the insistence of a motif, no matter how residual, which in any case never creates an obstacle, nor structures or dramatizes the surface.”
Born in 1952, Gérard Traquandi lives and works in Marseille and Paris. Since the 90’s, he develops a powerful and unique artwork that continues questioning painting, sculpture and photography practices itself. Personal exhibitions were dedicated to him at the Musée de Gajac (2017), Abbaye de Silvacane (2017), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes (2015), Abbaye de Montmajour (2013), Château de Jau (2011), Musée Cantini (2008), Maison Européenne de la Photographie (2005), Le Rectangle in Lyon (2002), etc. His artwork can be found in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris), Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (Nice), CNAP, MEP and in many FRAC, as well as several public and private collections in France and Europe.
* The piazza in The Piazza Tales, Herman Melville, 1856.