Exhibition catalogue, Portrait, Galerie Templon, Paris (France), 2004
Text by Marie-José Mondzai ; Interview with Hortense Lyon (English and French)
Editions Galerie Templon, 2004
Soft cover, 23 X 29,5 cm
Galerie Templon is proud to present from March 6 through April 24, Gerard Garouste’s latest body of works : a series of portraits and self-portraits, a genre the artist explores for the very first time in his career.
After his acclaimed monumental installation « les Saintes Ellipses » last fall, Gérard Garouste chose to focus on more intimate works. For the exhibition « portraits », the artists presents twenty new paintings deconstructing the traditional genre of « portrait painting ». Some works are commissioned portraits of collectors, or famous art-patrons such as Corinne Ricard. Others are self-portraits and paintings of close relatives : his wife and well-known furniture designer Elizabeth Garouste, his sons, their friends...
The formal constraints of this genre – resemblance and realism – which Gérard Garouste chose to confront for the first time, are the starting point for an in-depth exploration of the “meaning” of portraiture. Although the sitters’ faces and personalities seem recognizable and tangible, the surreal deformation of their bodies and the subtle addition of symbolic elements (crystal balls, books, mysterious flowers), give the portraits a surprising epic quality. In “Elizabeth”, the artist’s wife is turned into a whimsical recliner. In another painting, the artist represents his son dismembered, surrounded by tortured chairs and white wolves. With “The Flight of the Mad Man”, Gérard Garouste evokes renaissance Italian portraits (profile on a red background), yet he represents himself as flying mad man whose hands are turning into awkward wings.
At 53, Gérard Garouste is undeniably the most celebrated French painter of his generation. For over twenty five years, he has attempted to renew painting by reviving traditional genres such as « history painting » or « religious painting ». Often labeled a « post-modern » artist, he has always played with the formal rules, techniques, and constraints of traditional painting. His paintings transcend the teachings of the Great Masters (Raphael, Tintoretto, Rembrandt…) to redefine our relationship to painting and reflect upon the meaning of « representation ».Born in 1946 in Paris, Gérard Garouste lives and works in Paris and Normandy. He is one of the leading figures in French art. As both painter and sculptor, he is obsessed by the origins of our culture, myths and the legacy left us by the old masters. His own life is the springboard for his work on ‘dismantling images and words’ and his fascination with the questions of origins, time and transmission. His paintings are born of associations of ideas. Now unsettling, now joyful, they teem with animals, some of them fantastical, and a cast of different characters. His sources range from the Bible to popular culture and literary greats, from Cervantes to Rabelais.