Also known under the pseudonym Painterman, the artist, born in 1970 in Paris, defines himself as a painter. If Laurent Marissal is a painter, he is nevertheless a painter who doesn’t paint. It is necessary to distinguish Laurent Marissal the painter who recounts his actions, from Painterman, the painter who does the actions.
As soon as he left Paris School of Fine Arts, he was hired as a guard at the Gustave Moreau Museum, where he undertook to “paint in blue”, thus designating all the clandestine actions carried out with art by an employee during his work hours, without his employer’s knowledge: he turned his back on the public to read, turned over the guard’s chairs, moved the objects, put his finger in the fresh painting of the museum under renovation…
So many actions pursued until the creation of a local trade union, used to the benefit of its pictorial actions: he questions working conditions, causes the museum’s first strike, organizes a demonstration and restores a joint administrative commission. He obtains the reduction of working hours, the guardians resting space, and resigns after construction works. The narrative of these clandestine pictorial actions gives rise to the first opus of the Pinxit series, 1997-2003, published by Incertain Sens in 2006.
From 2005 to 2010, he continued his “painting in blue” as a professor of art history, putting his words into practice during the courses he diverted from their initial mission. Laurent Marissal confirms his position as a critical artist by using his working time to benefit his actions. This is how he scores his students at dice, or breaks a table during his presentation on a Fluxus performance.
In 2010, he made his metamorphosis visible by publishing:
Laurent Marissal alias Painterman, Pinxit (II) — Where the painting goes, to the editions Incertain Sens :
“Painting without painting ? Yes, the painter is a monkey if he limits himself to covering limited surfaces without painting the very space that separates him from the canvas, from the world. I cover up the so-called free time and transform suffered life into a compound life. Yes, life is mixed with painting, the thing is proven. I have the formula. I am now afraid to paint sitting like a caged bear”.
Following a stay in Canada, Laurent Marissal founded NADA, a journal of non visible — not hidden actions, conceived as a workshop allowing him to experiment various aspects of his work; NADA defines himself as “episodic magazine, depicts the pictorial actions, non-visible — non-hidden, carried out by Painterman alias Laurent Marissal in a hostile environment as in Arcadia.”
His first exhibition at the mfc-michèle didier gallery reveals the first chapter of the next Pinxit issue, which will revisit the great figures from the myth of Cain. This myth inaugurates a new period in Laurent Marissal’s painting. Cain, or more precisely the story of Cain and Abel, is one of the first founding myths of the Bible, but also a “founding work of the Western imagination” that refers to “the primordial time” and “fabulous beginnings”, according to the historian of religions, Mircea Eliade. Laurent Marissal’s exhibition starts from this contradiction: Cain commits the first crime, by killing his brother Abel, but is also the founding father of Art thanks to the creation of the first city, Enoch, thus giving birth to civilization. Thanks also to descendants that would decline the arts and crafts, he then became the father of all the arts.
The myth of Cain can thus be considered as a model of the creative process: to negate nothingness… And let us see that from the transformation of the odious is born art, the city, civilization… The artist wonders: isn’t the mission of art to free itself from the laws and ensure its freedom? And how can the artist build his own sovereignty?
Within the mfc-michèle didier gallery, this portrait of Cain will take the form of a visual poem, resulting in an Arabic and Hebrew translation engraved on a vinyl, accompanied by a journal. The NADA magazine will also be shown, in the form of a newspaper but also in the form of panels presenting the account of pictorial actions; drawings will also be presented; as well as non-aligned actions. The non-aligned actions (ana), which the artist has been developing since 2016, are conceived as a collective form of his pictorial actions. The ana is federated around the words and actions of artists, activists, workers, or scientists. A pictorial showcase associated with non-aligned actions will change each week with and according to the guests.
As part of this exhibition, the artist will set up an ana programme dedicated to the portrait of Cain: every Friday, 18 minutes after Jumu’ah, 18 minutes before Vespers and Sabbath, talking circles will be organised to discuss the law, violence, revolt, friendship and utopia. A program that invites us to rethink both the artist’s autonomy and the construction of our personalities beyond legal or geographical borders.
The event will also be an opportunity to launch the Cain label and propose some sales protocols: chance, the rule of third parties, the Fibonacci suite, the Conway suite, the extra salary, the cost price will be some of the alternatives.