VISIONARY REVUE

SEVEN VISIONARY LANDSCAPISTS:
Cat, Thomas, Ugarte, Trignac,
Henricot, Margotton, Poumeyrol

      Many of the finest visionary artists in France today have dedicated themselves entirely to the genre - largely forgotten - of landscape painting ('le paysage'). And yet, these are no ordinary landscapes. Moving beyond Altdorfer, Friedrich and Martin, they present visions of a post-apocalyptic or pre-paradisical world.
      To speak of genesis or apocalypse is to assume a western linear view onto time, where the thread of history unravels from beginning to end. But, it is just as possible that the flood we see in so many of their works may be an ever-recurring deluge where, in eastern fasion, the world is repeatedly destroyed and re-created in an endless cycle.
      Although these Paysagistes Visionnaires offer us panoramic visions of Paradise regained and Nature renewed, huge stone edifices and the fragmented remains of our industrial society may still be glimpsed here and there, reminding us that the present, in comparison to immensity of Nature's timeless cycles, is nothing more than a fleeting moment.

ROLAND CAT

Open a new window to the Cat Gallery

      Certainly, that is the case with Roland Cat. Born in Paris (Neuilly sur Seine) in 1943, he has often depicted just such a deluge, as well as the world which resurfaced at its end. Typically, an aerial perspective reveals a sublime view onto Nature where ruins may remain but man is strangely absent. In his place, a lone animal roams through overgrown grass, inviting us to view the creation through a more innocent, indeed, natural eye (such as in Cheval).
      One of Cat's works, simply entitled, The Eye, (right) emphasizes this more innocent 'animal' view onto the creation (and why do the words 'animal' or 'bestial' sound prejorative in our language?) The animal beholds the sad catastrophe with neither commentary nor judgement.
      Cataclysmic events abound in Cat's work - not just floods, but exploding volcanos (Volcano- 1974)


 
 
 


PARIS - FALL 2004

THE EYE - Roland Cat

and even a return to the Ice Age. In The village (1976) an entire town is covered by glaciers, with only the church tower remaining above ice.
      In another expansive canvas, a destroyed city is viewed from underwater as dolphins swim past (En dessous 1980). Elsewhere, railroad tracks end in the midsts of a barren landscape, while a steam engine is frozen for all time in a snowy landscape. The cataclism is forever present.
      And yet, the end of the world may also become a return to the beginning. In several works, prehistoric animals re-appear - dinosaurs, pterodacyls, mammoths - which roam freely through panoramic landscapes, where the last vestiges of civilization may also be glimpsed (Survivor- 1974).
      Despite this pessimistic view onto humanity as a whole, Cat reveres the enduring beauty of Nature and its endless variety of animal and vegetable forms. Like Dürer, he will lovingly render each blade of grass around a mushroom or each hair of a rabbit's fur. Essentially, his are Romantic landscapes, with dynamic compositions full of counteracting movement - clouds swirling in contraposition to arching mountains; storms breaking in the heavens; thunder, rain, and lightning hurling down.


 
 
 


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