Série des lavabos, 2007
Nicolas CUSSAC and the Light in the Air
Two challenges confront any painter bold enough to open an exhibit in a group offering in the late autumn of 2007. The very first has to be the light. For the European temperate autumn has already quickened the eye of those now walking the Paris streets and parks. After the sunny blindness of summer, eyes are newly back at work. They are now sorting the hues of shiny chocolate chestnut skins, breaking out of their yellowing shells from the shading orange leaves under the darkening trees. And when some passers by turn up at an exhibit, their scrutiny of whatever kinds of painting are on hand will miss very little in the endlessly puzzling scattering of the light across a canvas. A younger painter will be wisely wary of trying out any too careless unreflected, and merely talented gestures.
And the second challenge is the seasoned competition. For after the summer’s international extravaganzas in Kassel and the Venice Biennale, autumn is also the season for opening the grand exhibits. Thus, we have Rembrandt and His Age at NewYork’s Metropolitan, Turner at London’s Royal Academy, Dutch Portraits at the Hague’s Mauritshuis, and Courbet at the Grande Palais. On a smaller scale, we also have a Giacometti exhibit at the Centre Baubourg, Lucien Freud at the Louisiana outside Copenhagen, and Georg Baselits aiso at London’s Royal Academy.
Why then waste still more precious time for the tediousness of the everyday, for the boredom of the ordinary, when the never-seen-before-all-at-once and the truly extraordinary are now this autumn almost all there to be seen at last ? Any younger painter will have to think twice before trying to come out of the shadow of such luminous and distinguished internationally celebrated work.
So a painter needs to show something bold and important if he or she is to risk hanging but a small selection of his Iatest works in the sharp-eyed and immensely competitive Paris autumn this year. And, in the series of canvasses Nicolas CUSSAC has selected for his first Paris exhibit, boldness and importance is what we see. The boldness is in the historical challenge and the importance is, as with any truly fine painter, in the figuring of the light.
Moving through this series, first from one direction and then from another, then from the small canvasses to the large and back from the large to the small, and then again from the earlier pieces to the later ones and from the later to the earlier ones, we gradually keep coming upagainst his stark and sometimes sumptuous uses of the medium-now brightly cold, now lukewarm, now all too hot. To be sure, we find neither Turner nor Courber and neither Rembrandt nor Frans Hais. But the early Flemish fascination with the textures, the colours, and the at times sinister liquidness of the commonplace are all here. And much of the persisting quest for the depths of whatever an abstract realism in painting today and not in the New York of the sixties might look like now is also here on view.
Besides taking up the historical challenge then to paint with and against both classical and contemporary masters by citing them scrupulously but always against themselves, Nicolas CUSSAC has also- and not without an evidently long disciplined attentiveness - looked freshly to the autumn light. He has not looked at the light. Nor has he looked through the light. Rather, in looking to that light he has come to let its ever changing yet quite distinctive seasonal peculiarities filter through his variously sized canvasses into the paint and onto our own blinking, unsettled eyes.
At first, the light is hard, as in the acrylic works of Edward Hopper. And then, reflecting from the white porcelain sinks into the fleshy dismemberments, the shiny light takes on a viscous, turgid, and almost oily, sardine-like density. Finally, the light falls sensuously upon the eye of the observer with its troubling thickness and questioning. And the observer’s eyes, while already alight with the subtle, dynamic harmonies of the autumn colours all around them in the air and freshly illumined with visual memories of Flemish and Abstract Realist canvasses, focus down sharply on the shapes and the shadings.
Looking slowly and repeatedly at Nicolas CUSSAC’s exhibit this autumn in Paris will prove for many at f9rst an unsettling experience. And then it will prove to be a deeply satisfying one. For Nicolas CUSSAC’s exhibit brings back to the eye not just several of the luminous moments in the history of modem and contemporary art. His exhibit also, and perhaps more memorably, more lastingly, reminds his viewers of the abundance of the changing light in the air. His paintings testify to that abundance. His exhibit, that is, leaves us asking just how in the genuine depths of the everyday, the ordinary, and the banal, we might finally come like him to give ourselves over repeatedly to that inexhaustible abundance continually irradiating our lives.
Paris, Octobre 2007
Né le 04/11/1964 à Perpignan
Vit et travaille à Carnet-en-Roussillon (Pyrénées -Orientales)
DEF architecture à Montpellier en 1985
Ecole des Beaux-Arts à perpignan de 1987 à 1990.
De 1990 à 2004 mène de front un travail de peinture décorative et de peintree en Atelier. Depuis 2004, se consacre entièrement à la peinture en Atelier.