Spirit and form…

For his upcoming autumn exhibition, Galerie ART Aujourd’hui will feature a rare and unusual exhibition of the painter Pierre SAINT-PAUL and the sculptor Pierre MARTINON. These two artists did not meet each other before, but their joint presentation immediately seemed to us essential as an imperious and obvious necessity. From the confrontation between one’s painting and the other’s sculpture emerge a deep unity.  The spirit that lives within their work, beyond their differences, is entirely personified in the form they offer. Form is never for them an illustration of an idea or, worst, of any anecdote or vain ornament, but the only bearable attempt to its realization. « Form is sedimented (settled) content » said the German philosopher Th. Adorno. Sorry for this rough translation of Adorno’s formulation, which is, anyway, so perfectly suitable for Saint-Paul’s and Martinon’s works


Pierre SAINT-PAUL Pierre St Paul_1

Pierre SAINT-PAUL’s paintings do not have any title. The high spirituality that emerges out of them doesn’t need words: tensions and harmonic proportions, shades and lights, powerfully organize his big sized paintings that always go straight to the point. On the contrary, his smaller sized paintings appear as a far reflection of the informal painting and his materialistic vein.  (French:“peinture matiériste”, in facts the word does not exist, even in French, but refers to a major concern of painters during the early fifties about expressive power of raw  materials.) The imperious affirmation of his monumental compositions turns into print, whisper, “next to nothing”, minimal sign and secret privacy.”

Always searching for the maximum means saving, Saint-Paul’s painting aims for the Sacred. But, whatever non-figurative these paintings are, deep tensions and powerful paradoxes are drawn in them, which are the framework and thread of our contemporary reality. Saint-Paul avoids certainties and faces the doubt. His work confronts the world.

Hubert Nyssen wrote in the Hôtel-Dieu, Tonnerre, Yonne, France, June 1999 exhibition’s catalog’s preface: “I am surrounded with works by Pierre Saint-Paul, and I see that appear in this permanent confrontation, quakes and whispers, and sometimes even the silent screams of those who always ask questions further than the answers one could attempt to give them.




Pierre MARTINON Pierre Martinon

One must have seen in Martinon’s studio an undergoing piece, to understand that Martinon’s so sensually full-bodied forms are physically made of a skin or membrane of clay surrounding a blank central core. (This inner space will later allow the cooking without cracks and breakings). So, the piece must be put up methodically and patiently, just like the mason raises a house, from the basement to the roof. One thinks as well of tapestry-art and the way a tapestry slowly raises from his base to its top. Hesitation and repentance are strictly forbidden. Martinon always have to keep alive his composition’s mental picture and global feeling. Here the mason is architect too, as the hand is the instrument of mind in elaborating form’s service. The philosopher Christian Godin speaks of “abnegation” about him in a beautiful text about the work of his friend Pierre Martinon. One could add, as a motivation to this abnegation, the necessary submission to the requirements and hazards of clay cooking. Cooking that will bring sturdiness and life to the clay and to these forms, “physically void but (so) esthetically pregnant. “

Christian Godin says also very well this relationship between spirit and form in Pierre Martinon’s work: “Mental image and external reference are not essential, it’s enough to let one’s being supported by a logic of forms, while being ardently sensible, that will express all the dignity and greatness of mind.

And, behind the plenitude of these forms that never call anxiety or fear, is concealed an invisible core of night.

 Exhibition's images