VISIONARY REVUE

RAMPART- Michel Henricot

MICHEL HENRICOT

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      Though Henricot is best known for his mummified figures he has also dedicated a significant part of his oeuvre to the genre of the landscape.
      "My landscapes could be the dwelling places for the beings I paint," he says. "They are stoney landscapes, excavation sites, and subterranean places which I gradually bring to light." (60)
      Typically, Henricot paints barren and desolate places, like stone mausoleums on the edge of the desert. Quadrangular tombs are cut into rocks, abandoned passages are guarded by desert hounds, and the lengthening shadows of the setting sun are obscured by sandstorms.
      These shadowlands are so pervaded by death that one of them (simply entitled Landscape) depicts a distant mountain range in the shape of a human skull in horizontal profile (a veritable Golgotha or 'the place of the skull'.)
      "I don't like to paint anything vitally new or alive," Henricot declares. "I prefer things that are rusted, eroded and petrified. They are like journeys into some dark underworld or I-don't-know what other strata of the earth. But I absolutely need these ancient places which, in a sense, are timeless." (61)
      To journey into one of these paintings is, in a sense, to wander into the desert or the valley of the dead. And indeed, Henricot has sought out these places for inspiration:




 
 
 


PARIS - FALL 2004

TERRACE - Michel Henricot

      "I've been to the desert quite a few times. It's a an extraordinarily magical place where we can dream. We're not distracted by anything. There's the horizon, the sky, the dunes - and that's all. So, we can imagine whatever we want there." (62)
      After a life-long fascination with Egyptian culture, he also visted the Valley of the Dead for the first time in 2003. "When I went there a few months ago, it seemed all quite familiar to me. But, as I penetrated into the furthest depths of the temple, into the 'naos' (sanctuary), I felt some truly extraordinary things." (63)
      Although his landscapes are inspired by photos and memories of these places, they gradually alter and evolve as he works upon them. Like the crust of the earth itself, the paintings are built up layer by layer, with occasional cataclisms as levels are rubbed, eradicated or scrated away.
      "I don't have the impression of 'creating' something when I work," Henricot has written, "but rather, of slowly bringing a pre-existing thing to light through a gradual process of discovery. In other words, a kind of archaeology..." (64)
      Through his unusual manner of painting, these subterranean landscapes are slowly excavated, and their inner mysteries unearthed.



 
 
 


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