VISIONARY REVUE


      Over time, a younger generation has emerged with a less nostalgic and more hopeful vision of the cosmos. The watery stream, as a rare sign of hope in the apocalyptic world of Cat, Thomas, and Ugarte, may have finally found its fertile ground in the present generation of Visionary Landscapists.

THE VISIONARY LANDSCAPISTS:
THE YOUNGER GENERATION

GREGOIRE MASSONNEAU

Open a new window to the Massonneau Gallery

      Such is the case with Gregoire Massonneau, a young painter from Vichy. His landscapes, particularly his Cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand triptych (right), evoke the dark apocalyptic vision of Cat, Thomas and Ugarte. These images suggest that man's spiritual striving, like all attempts to build, must fall ultimately into disuse and decay.
      But, a more timeless quality also underlies the rise and fall of all civilizations. According to the artist:
      "I prefer to depict buildings like cathedrals and pyramids, which are ageless, and seem to defy time. In my work, there are no direct references to times or epochs. I have often discussed this with Ugarte, who I consider to be my 'master' in many ways, and he has always said to me 'do not try to tell a story.'" (72)
      Massonneau avoids the temptation to deliver a simple and direct message. And so we are left to wonder exactly - what has happened in this forlorn and desolate wasteland? Whatever the tragedy that may have broke in the past, the future at least is offered some signs of renewal:
      "There isn't any vegetation in my landscapes, nor human beings. We don't really know what has




 
 
 


PARIS - FALL 2004





CATHEDRAL OF CLERMONT-FERRAND TRIPTYCH

happened - is this after a cataclism? After the great deluge? Meanwhile, there is a small stream of water in my paintings, like cleansing waters, offering us signs of life that may return." (73)
      And so, the stream of hope, which meandered through the last generations works, continues to fertilize new ground. And, through the latticework of the ruined roscace, a diffused light appears in the heavens. This light is charged with significance, offering a strong contrast to the ruins in shadow:
      "The most difficult task is to master light, ambiance and atmosphere," the artist admits. "I'm trying to express a feeling, rather sombre or melancholic perhaps, through the light in my painting. That light comes from afar, from the furthermost background of my paintings. Meanwhile, in the extreme foreground there are those dark shadows, creating a strong opposition. The light that shines from the background offers, perhaps, another indication of hope." (74)
      And so, despite the sad state of these ruins, a serene beauty underlies the image, offering us intimations of re-emergence. Perhaps some transcendence of man's barren earthly and spiritual state is made possible through these images.


 
 
 


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