Galerie Polaris, 15 rue des Arquebusiers, 75003 Paris Tel: 00 33 0142722127
January 14 - February 25, 2023

The title of Etienne Armandon’s new paintings comes from the first short story written by Franz Kafka*, an author who has already been a source of inspiration for several of the artist’s works, including « Gregor » (2021) and « The Metamorphosis » (2020). These country preparations, for which the artist takes complete responsibility, are to be taken at face value, for this is indeed where the majority of the paintings were done. In 2021 and 2022, Etienne Armandon stayed on an isolated farm in the Morvan for several months during all four seasons, to paint this new series outdoors. How can this need for the outdoors be defined? Simply by discovering this series, which perfectly reflects the artist’s struggle to capture the landscapes that lay before him. In some of the paintings, we see the silhouette of a barn, an animal, a path, electricity poles, luxuriant vegetation when the painting was done in spring, or on the contrary, nature burnt by the sun when the painting was done in the summer of 2022. In wanting to confront, not just the wall of his studio, but the real landscape as well as the violence of nature which makes no concessions when one wants to be inspired by it, Etienne Armandon has confronted his own demons, describing it as « a meeting of external and internal drama ».

Painting outdoors, the artist takes possession of new territory, rarely used by artists nowadays. This is difficult territory because it is constantly changing. It is not a question of « imagining » but of capturing what nature offers, as quickly as possible, before it changes. Trying to throw it out of its time. It is this new condition that allows him to grasp the essence of the colours present in the landscape. There is no peaceful atmosphere in keeping with a Monnet style garden here. On the contrary, nature is violently illuminated by the sun, the vegetation covers the canvas, spills over the edges, in certain parts it is so thick that it seems to want to cover the canvas, as if the landscape itself had run over it. Streaked with brushstrokes, the substance of the paint modelled by the artist’s hand, becomes that which receives, the resonance of the violence of the raw hues of the surrounding landscape. In his works, Etienne Armandon talks to us about the dramatic quality of a colour, and even of the dramaturgy of the paint itself.

Etienne Armandon likes to quote Edmund Burke** and has made this sentence his own, « The attention is focused less on the landscape component (…) than on the entire landscape ». For the artist does not seek colour to reproduce what he sees nor to achieve any kind of chromatic balance, he projects colour to answer the landscape, as in a dialogue between what exists and what is fantasised, but also what is analysed, interpreted, tamed and digested.

A small number of paintings were done indoors, like this amazing and funny painting « lamp and eye ». It seems to allude to the peacefulness of the studio, where the artist can, as master of his visions and of his environment, take the liberty of painting in a way which is punctuated by these geometric forms.
Profound changes have occurred in the artist’s work. The first flat tints created more than ten years ago gave birth to a painting with more matter streaked with the brush, and finally the substance of the paint itself becomes the subject of the work.

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