Exhibition from 18 March to 28 April 2023
Galerie Catherine Putman has pleasure in holding a new exhibition of works by Jean Messagier (1920-1999). In parallel, a selection of his works will be shown at the forthcoming Art Paris.
Encompassing painting, engraving and sculpture, Jean Messagier's protean work continued throughout the second half of the 20th century, evolving continuously. The exhibition consists of a host of drawings and paintings on paper from the 1970s and a remarkable set of monotypes from the 1960s. The variety of the works reflects the freedom of creation that was dear to the artist.
In the 1970s, Jean Messagier drew with oil pastels, crayons, spray paint or gouache using broad volutes and scrolls. Often related to lyrical abstraction, nuagism or the second School of Paris, Messagier never claimed to belong to a movement in art?just as he never wished to choose between abstract and figurative. His work was guided solely by a poetic and experimental spirit.
His spray painting and collages with different components augured the more expressionist style of subsequent years, thus marking his taste for popular culture. "Trop grande pâquerette" and "Plusieurs matinées combattant la nuit" are titles that are very visible in his works, reflecting humour and poetry and sometimes a certain taste for provocation, as in "Les sexes du printemps" for example.
"The bare, shimmering copper plate. Use it like a mirror.
Forget acid and points and throw the ink straight on to the metal according to its squash.
Waiting for emergence from the press.
Fear of heating.
On one side the living paper.
On the other the dead copper." Jean Messagier
An epigraph to the chapter devoted to monotypes in the catalogue raisonné "Jean Messagier, les estampes et les sculptures", this quotation shows the attraction of this process for the artist. Monotypes are made using printing techniques with a special feature: the paint is applied to copper (zinc or Perspex, etc. can also be used) and transferred to paper by pressure making it possible to obtain a single, unique print.
The broad gesture that is coloured and brushed on the copper plate is that of the painter but the print of the ink creates the work on paper. This is a perfect synthesis of two disciplines that at the heart of his work and could be described as a spontaneous print.
All the 1960s monotypes shown in the exhibition are characteristic of his painting during this period. Singular brushing effects are added to the technique when the brush sweeps over the copper plate, and those of squashing when the print is made with creation of dense printed areas, often using gold ink in Messagier's work. It is the trace that interested the artist, as when he used marks of plants or crystallisation by cold.
In parallel with this exhibition, the gallery will show emblematic works by the artist at the coming edition of Art Paris at the Grand Palais Éphémère from 30 March to 2 April 2023: gestural watercolours from the 1960s and paintings referred to as "gels" ("frosts") drawings of the cold laid out at night with glacial temperatures and that he collected on paper. These works show Messagier's taste for experiment. He sought the position of man in nature and of nature in art.
"There are always surprises in monotypes. This is very interesting in fact but never by chance. You can attain absolute perfection if you want. For me, a monotype is recreation, a leak from the bite of the acid into the metal impresses me; seeing acid penetrating copper always traumatises and disturbs me.
A monotype is halfway between engraving and painting. It has allowed me to say something completely different by releasing me from the two techniques."
A talk with Jean Messagier by Daniel Meiller and Patrick Le Nouene, in Y.R. 1974
Le printemps commence avec un orage
March 18 - April 28, 2023