Recent work

The quest for color

Documentation

Titan, 1983, sculpture - nitrocellulose paint on wood - Claude Bellegarde

Titan - sculpture
1981, 29½ x 27½ x 16 ins
nitrocellulose paint on wood
Private collection

Claude Bellegarde, Columbia University, New York, 1981

Claude Bellegarde
Exhibition: Wooden Scroll Paintings
Columbia University, New York 1981

Scrolls1974–1990

apia-wooden scroll 1981 - Claude Bellegarde

Apia
1981, 47 x 69½ ins
nitrocellulose paint on wood scroll
Private collection

One evening, on my way home, I notice a rolled-up section of weather–beaten wood matting on the sidewalk, one of those old–fashioned types of tightly–woven window blinds, made of fine strands of wood or grass. I find this material appealing and it occurs to me to take it to my studio for a color test. No doubt the artist, given over to the fear of the endless void, finds, via the tactile contact with texture, a sense of security in material substance.… CLAUDE BELLEGARDE: JOURNAL

INTERVIEW BY MICHEL TROCHE 1982 – CONCERNING THE PAINTING APIA « BELLEGARDE: THE QUEST FOR COLOR » SOMOGY, ÉDITIONS d’ART, PARIS, 2006

MT: Since 1974, the themes you have been developing illustrate an organic relation in the state of fusion between the forces of nature and human energy. You invite many different levels of interpretation of these mutating forms, whether vegetal, animal or mineral: emaciated silhouettes, polyvalent signs, enveloping space or earth. Collective unconscious, mythologies, dream psychoanalysis?

CB: If, for example, we examine a painting on woven wood from 1981, the title of the work, Apia, gives us a first clue. Its evocation of Greek mythology–its name being formerly that of our planet, sister and spouse of Uranus–the heavens have a tendency to bring to light, to update an archetype from our cultural heritage. This theogonic fiction, through its iconological descriptions, offers a visual projection of the human condition. It reveals the complexity of man’s feelings and desires, and encourages us to reflect on the origins of our own species and of the world itself.

MT: For centuries, wasn’t painting simply a medium extracted from plants, minerals, earth and insects, used to impregnate skin, tissue, pots and walls?

CB: Color valorises an object and creates a potential for thought. This staining, an alchemical act upon the substance, could only be a transfer full of idealised signification. The industrial color of our times aims to be an exterior surface, which claims to be permanent, the ultimate resistance to deterioration. A one–dimensional eternity, deep-frozen in a way. Yet, the product exists, and our environment today doesn’t exactly facilitate the grinding of sediments to extract pigments! There’s nothing to stop us from using it and treating it with other prospects in mind.