VISIONARY REVUE

TRAMONTO - Pierre Peyrolle

      "My feeling," Peyrolle says, "is that the fantastic must emerge from the atmosphere... I don't like it, when an artist illustrates an idea according to 'the codes' of fantastic art - like painting a skull to show the idea of death.... Instead, our feelings are evoked through atmosphere, setting, textures - through the overall scenography of a painting. For me, that approach is much more magical. " (39)
      
A clear example of this is offered by his majestic work Tramonto. Here, the artist attempts to evoke a memory that has long been buried in our unconscious: the memory of our own birth. And yet, he does not do this by painting a symbolic image of that event, such as a new born baby or Christ child. Rather, he evokes the feelings of disorientation, pressure and release through the painting's atmosphere and 'overall scenography'.
      
In speaking about Tramonto, Peyrolle has said: "I would say that it is a very confused echo of our birth trauma. That birth involves a passage, a very traumatic passage. The strange quality of the sea resembles the intrauterine state. In fact, as a reference, I used a photo which shows the surface of the water when viewed from below, from underwater - and then turned it upside down. So, this underwater-above-water creates an atmosphere of confusion, where unconsciously we feel very disoriented and closed in. I wanted this feeling of enclosure so that we could then re-experience the moment when the water breaks. Like the red sail, the amniotic sac enveloping the child is torn, and the passage from a foetal state into consciousness begins." (40)


 
 
 


PARIS - FALL 2004

MARCUS MANILIUS FALLS FROM THE CAPITAL - Pierre Peyrolle

      Another example of this approach is offered by Marcus Manilius Falls from the Capital. Despite its ornate title, this painting evokes another forgotten memory, another 'event deep in the psyche of man'. But in this case, it is our loss of childhood, which becomes a fall from innocence:
      "Quite simply, this is a fallen angel. I gave it a long 'prix de Rome' title because I wanted to annoy the artists of the avant garde. Perhaps the painting can also be understood as an image of childhood. But this fallen angel is not really 'cursed'. Rather, he suffers a loss of innocence. The rebel angels suffered a great defeat: they lost their primordial innocence - the power to rise to heaven. So here, we see how the violent sky rejects him. He's lost his power of spiritual ascent, and now tumbles downward. In that sense, all humans are fallen angels. Yes, that is what birth is - the fall of an angel! From the moment we are born into this world, we are fallen..!" (41)
      
It is in this sense that Peyrolle's poetic vision, though richly evocative of human life, is also melancholic. In this regard, the art critic Pierre Rival has written:
       "The nightmarish visions of Pierre Peyrolle are those of a man who, having witnessed the frightening spectacle of the 20th century, has found refuge within an all-encompassing melancholy. The images, signs and symbols which populate his canvases (and his works are far from empty...) constitute no known cosmology. Instead, we are able to recognize merely a few fragments of Western culture. But these are, in the words of Mallarmé, "the still stones fallen here from some dark and unknown disaster." - Pierre Rival (42)


 
 
 


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