«There is a moving form that is born in the back of the mind and that grows in front of the eyes, like in a dream where images, although blurry, seem real».
With 20 years of artistic exploration, Stéphane Ducret is keeping painting alive, unconscious, ornery and unafraid. Ducret’s paintings call up a psychic territory of the brain and the absently scribbled marks when coupled with familiar tasks, being nervous or bored. In his newer work, after a nine year period of digital painting, he returns to the raw material of the paint, the canvas and colors in their maximum purity, reinforcing the question of how to paint, rather than what.
What happens in our emotional world when altered by the unconscious? How is the unconscious affected by our consciousness? These are questions that Ducret asks himself in this new series, observing how a simple napkin, the margins of a newspaper or a piece of paper, transform themselves as the material witnesses of this mental and emotional process. Today, Ducret’s paintings and drawings are witnesses of an introspective process, consciously evoking the feeling that continuously pushes him to the one of a child. Ultimately, there is a constant doubling of our psyche. «There is a constant unfolding of our psyche, we live in two parallel planes at the same time.»
Subtle and provocative, Ducret plays with the naive and somehow entertaining claim by the public about contemporary art, that «it could be done, and even better, by a 3-year-old child.» Precisely, there resides Ducret’s principal concept: to obtain what the child does without knowing, but with the adult’s consciousness. At the source of Ducret’s new process is the intellectual projection that allows him to yield to the essential character of the child. «In fact, it is in a reverse way, stemming from years of investigation and learning of various techniques, and developed backwards. It is the path to reach the elementary and basic that forms a whole.»
Ducret’s work has followed a trajectory that is at once historically reflexive, very much of its own moment, and keenly self-critical. Ducret accepts that his paintings are subject to the intertextual meeting of various discourses. In his newer work, he conceives the experience of life and art as a whole. Moved by music, conventions and challenges of making art in the new Millennium, his work embodies and encourages its own contradictions. «In my art, I have tried not to use what I have learned until now, which is more complex than knowing nothing. I would like that my intuition speak of itself.»
Cy Twombly’s freely scribbled graffiti-style paintings and the sprayed paintings of Christopher Wool are a great influence on Ducret’s process at this time. Standing before such paintings for the first time is a curious experience. One thinks naturally of these artists because of the colorful doodles and the way the paint is sprayed onto the canvass. His looping whirls of paint seem uncontrolled, but in fact they are highly organized, obtained with a carefully achieved randomness. Ducret’s paintings are multiple, deliberate, absolute, and energetic. Ducret’s interest in opening the paintings to a wide range of associations is further expanded in this work, not only by adding to his new investigation of the relationship between process and painted imagery, but also by raising the possibility of a painting that would invite an active, physical engagement with the viewer.
Ducret’s work incorporates a steadfast criticality and welcomes contradiction. Its discourse is boldly directed to the spectator, and yet it remains surprisingly open to interpretation. Through process, technique, scale, composition, and imagery, Ducret’s work accentuates the tensions and contradictions between the act of painting, the construction of a picture, its physical attributes, the visual experience of looking at it, and the possibilities of playing with and pushing open the origins of its meanings.
Buenos Aires, 2011