les presses du réel

How the path is long

(p. 24-30)

I am speaking now of Paul Cézanne. It is not on the road to Damascus that he finds enlightenment, but rather in Père Tanguy's shop – it is in some ways the “cradle of modern art”. We can picture him, little Père Tanguy, as Saint Joseph, with straw in his shoes, and Cézanne with his creed of turning impressionism into a solid art like that found in museums. His method of reaching his goal is to react as Poussin did to nature by treating everything in terms of the cylinder and the sphere.
Here I must point something out that is not insignificant. To consider Poussin through the lens of geometry is a complete misinterpretation.
One of Poussin's aspirations was to give painting the weightiness characteristic of sculpture. It is a question of density and depth, not of form. With Poussin, volume comes from shadow. One only has to look at his drawings. It explains the great trouble he goes to in order to create a composition with these tiny figures. But for the two bishops, Pablo and Georges, cubes and cylinders are a godsend. Picasso said of Cézanne: “He is our beloved Mother.”
Now, if you do not mind, let us shift our thoughts to a few months ago in time, and in space you find yourself with me in my kitchen in the midst of washing up my bowl. Washing up my bowl, sweeping my doorstep – this is my daily routine, as well as listening to the news on the radio; all of a sudden, the President of the Salon des indépendants is speaking. He says, “We have done something extraordinary this year,” and adds, “but there is a very curious thing: if we take one away, we can no longer understand anything.”
Obviously I understand him, the dear chap. The liberties taken by some allow others to take more, so if one is removed, the whole lot falls to pieces. And now, I ask, what happens if we pull the rug out from under Cézanne?
In truth, painting has nothing to do with lists of rational forms, but rather bears witness to the soul, for the soul.
Martial Raysse : autres titres

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