Recent work

The quest for color


1991 La terre - The earth, ink on Hanji paper, Claude Bellegarde

The earth
1991, 52 x 63 ins
ink on paper made from mulberry tree bark Hanji
private collection

Marine and volcanic1989–1999

Le Braisier-The Inferno 1990 - Claude Bellegarde

The Inferno
1990, 51 x 76 ins
nitrocellulose paint on canvas
Private collection

To see, to contemplate the world in its flowing space, in its opaque, earthy substance, in which accumulate and appear heavy or delicate structures, textures that are dense and fragile, wet or dry, forms that are hard, pointed; soft curves juxtaposed, overlapping, chaotic or regular. … CLAUDE BELLEGARDE: JOURNAL


Bellegarde speaks of the earth as though it were the last mythology, but a living one. To experience its movements more closely, he went to Hawaii, attracted by the volcanoes of the Big Island and a sort of promised osmosis.

Mauna Loa is still active, and its last eruption, in March 1984, lasted for twenty–four days; those of Kilauea are less frequent. Yet it is this volcano that shelters the goddess Pele, whose feet are always in motion and to whom people bring offerings so that she won’t agitate them too violently. Some people affirm that her changes of mood, which can be catastrophic, are simply growing pains, because the Big Island is only five hundred thousand years old.

Bellegarde, who approached the craters in fusion from as near as possible, was able to recreate, through the color and the power he gives to his paintings, the violence of the volcanic eruption, the sudden explosive surge, the irresistible landslide, the delirium of the raging streams of flowing lava coursing down to the sea where it freezes into huge, blackish eddies in a mist of fire. Sometimes the pulverized lava is transformed into sand and spreads into long dark beaches or, in places, shines with a greenish olivine glow.

… When light takes shape in the material, color takes form in successive clusters. By wedding form, light radiates through a movement which begins from the center and shines in all directions… CLAUDE BELLEGARDE: JOURNAL