Curator, Museum of Carcassonne

Exhibition : Francois Bricq in Musée des Beaux-Arts  Carcassone - France

 June 24 - August 31, 1987











































1967-1987. Twenty years of work. Twenty years in a life devoted to painting — to the adventure of painting and adventure in painting. His passions : curiosity and work. Curiosity, travelling, visits to galleries and events both in Europe and the United States. Work, research, hesitations, achievements, contradictions, synthesis and assurance. In the 1960's, when Europe was about to be submerged and overtaken by the Americans, Bricq was in the sphere of influence of the School of Paris. His research into form, matter and pure colour was in line with the preoccupations of his generation. Everything seemed to have been discovered and ail traditions broken or forgotten. He was fascinated and influenced in turn by Arp, the Bauhaus, the Russian constructivists, Chinese social realism and Pop art flung this way and that, torn between different movements, he mastered his contradictions little by little and gained assurance in his method of work. He wanted ' 'to start at the beginning again and carry out systematic investigation". These were austere sometimes restless years traversed by painful crises. They were hinged on two main axes : abstraction and social realism and can be divided into very distinct phases while still keeping as a common feature a strong, continuous desire for systematic research — pushing this research to the point of exhaustion. Their common denominator was this will to systematize which takes the form of series and terminates in the notion of sequence in which a painting is only a sequence taken from an imaginary ensemble. Bricq first worked (67-69) on materials and the dynamic shapes produced by projected and manually applied materials. His work was intentionally limited to black and white. Shapes became more gentle — flexible S-shapes — and then became fixed as geometrical forms : diagonals, squares and circles. He then started to use colour again ( 69-72 ) with the three primary coulours Ired, yellow and blue) and a green. He painted flat expanses of colour with no textural effects on the canvases to explore depth and perspective initiated by the weight of the colour itself, while pushing his investigations into the spatial field. He sought a new solution for the third dimension and designed a whole series of models for monumental. In search of fresh solutions, he cried a collective experiment by creating AS-ART ( a rendering of ' 'hasard" or chance in French ? ), an association which included as members painters, black-and-white artists, writers and musicians. Aware of trends in society, he felt the need to "more functional than esthetic" figurative work, and left AS-ART to participate in other col­lective work in the "Atelier du 18 mars". He abandoned abstract painting and concentrated on social realism (72-771. However, ' ' political imagery is not a true field for artistic work" and he fiercely contested any notion of "avant-garde". His knowledge and experience of the great museums and the travelling that he had done made him aware of a European pictorial tradition with which he identified and that he claimed as a heritage with both the rights and duties that tihis involved. This was mainly representational : "representation is an important capital for me". He stated this when he triumphed in international exhibitions of Arte Povera and Conceptual Art. Figurative series then crossed and interwove : global images in the tradition of the classic painting ; the Port of Le Havre ( 1980), machine allegories (81 -83), new framing and reflections (since 83) : taking up once again the idea of sequence and inter­ference and the use of metonymy : metal ( engines and fuselages), glass ( windscreens) and water and conjugation of ail three. He then immersed himself in the pleasure of painting without wishing to demonstrate or to claim anything at ail beyond his pleasure and his freedom. This pleasure in painting was found and asserted by others in subsequent years, but there is no reason to quote them here. His ski11, on which it is needless to dwell, is now perfectly mastered : sureness of composition, accurate draughtsmanship and the quality of the relationship between form and colour. Use of acrylic paint — a true discipline with its own constraints — permits the glossy finish and perfect treatment which fully suits his favourite subjects.

These are familiar and refamilarised objects which create an atmosphere of communication and the possibility of communication with the public, particular when public sites (towns, buil­dings) or means of transport (cars, aircraft, ships) are the subjects of this communication. And the 20th century is the machine and the city. It is true that this was asserted by some — such as the Futurists — at the beginning of the century. However, it is not a question here of exaltation and adoration of the machine, which becomes an end in itself and reduces the painter to a status of mere illustrator, as is the case of many hyper-realists, but a question of images — everyday language which can be identified by everybody. Aeroplanes, ships or cars are the tools used to transform reality and symbols of the contemporary world, of consumption, or exchanges and of speed. They are aslo an invititation to travel, an invitation to depart for a still unknown "somewhere". Their speed changes space, and they themselves deform and transform this space by their chrome or glass surfaces. In addi­tion to the machines there is also water in the form of puddle or sea in which city and machi­nes are reflected and deformed. In the series featuring cars, this self-satisfaction is more subtle with the reflection of the city in which the buildings tumble and entwine around each other. The life of the city is also reflected in movement, worried, warm and sticky by the neon signs and lights in pools of water rippled by a passing car which remains only as the reflection of its rear lights. Water, chrome and glass create a new, troubled geometry which becomes anamorphosis and the viewer's wish is the only mirror which can restore it. These pictures go well beyond simple talented amusement or a sophisticated, formalist game in the manner of pseudo-American Pop Art or advertising posters. They should be understood at different levels. Of course the first of these aspects in which the plastic strength identified is dominant and cannot be denied. In the aircraft series, the reflection of shapes expresses the self-satisfaction of the machine and its faith in its own strength by the forms which close in on themselves, like that of man the Creator who in them admires his genius and the illusion of his eternity.

Bricq's images swing ambiguously between poetic interpretation of the mechanical world and the absolute and inconsequent pleasure of shape and colour. These images are the projec­tion of illusions and dreams, a static, two-dimensional rendering of space and time, an attempt to master and combine the latter by means of velocity. They sublimate and render poetic the world of now, but man is always absent, and this is doubtless not by chance. They are the absolute, inconsequential pleasure of form and coulour. The same constructions are seen again 20 years apart in S-shapes, fron­tal compositions, pictures within pictures, thanks to reflections where one shape is held within another and where the form contained is in fact the whole object, metonymy, the part for the whole. There are aslo the same touches — the word "touches" is used so as not say stains — and the same nervous brushwork which is calculated but at the boundary of chance — an optical game. There are the same colour relationships : red-blue, red-blue-yellow, and a rare green ; basically he uses the same three primary colours in different combinations. These are "pieces of painting". In short, this is painting.

Jean-François MOZZICONACCI - Curator - Museum of Carcassonne - France