Rémy Hysbergue: Free and vain talk

Rémy Hysbergue is a French painter currently exhibited at Galerie Richard in Paris. The following text is a collection of some of the comments the artist made during a series of interviews for the magazine without title. Free and vain (according to the artist), these selected works inform about their formation and influence. They defined his conception of art and reflection early in his practice.

I studied in Applied Arts where I did cartoons and textile creations. I learned to work fast and work by combining things from here and there. I had a very good art history teacher. Then I did Decorative Arts where I didn’t learn anything in terms of painting but on the other hand, there were courses on Bach and about the sacred which is magical. I come from a fairly popular background, I didn’t see a painting until I was eighteen. It’s so big I can get to Decorative Arts in Paris. I struggled a bit before I started thinking and before getting my parents to believe I could be a painter. But it helped me, I know it’s going to be long (and it’s still not over). I learned to have a certain level of requirements. I didn’t dare paint for the first ten years after my studies; I made a thumbnail.

I was intrigued by Agnes Martin and Richard Tuttle who managed to evoke so little emotion, I loved it. And then after that, it bothered me a little bit. I still wonder how Agnes Martin managed to do this all her life. In fact, I believe it is no longer a painting, it has no box to define what it is. We put it in the painting category but I think it’s something else. You shouldn’t look at him as a painter. It’s another way of thinking and being in the world. It’s like a haikus in poetry: originally they didn’t compose poetry. When Matsuo Bashō wrote, he was not writing poetry. For Martin it’s the same, it’s a trace of life but not a painting. The end of his work is more of a spiritual quest. He has written about it. Sometimes I wonder if he shouldn’t burn his paintings or throw them away. He knows how to throw, he throws some.

It is similar to the tantric images in India that have been created over thousands of years. When someone is sick or unwell, they can go see someone who draws very simple things for them (a circle, a sky-blue square) on a small piece of paper. It’s not a cure, it’s a kind of, I would say in my Western words, support for rebalancing. These pictures are amazing. One of the first to exhibit it was, I believe, Jean-Hubert Martin, in his “Les magiciens de la terre” exhibition. Cleverly enough, he placed him next to Daniel Buren. These small images bashed many artists but, despite the formal similarities, they weren’t the same approach, and most importantly, they weren’t meant to be showcased there. Jean-Hubert Martin had object awareness. He has a point in mixing profane and sacred objects.

However, if you make an exhibition showing only these images, on the one hand it is very vulgar, and on the other hand it distorts the purpose it was originally created for. We shouldn’t be able to cut the original this way, taking some of it because we think it’s good. It changes everything. Initially, these images were anonymous, but when a few people realized they generated interest, they started signing them. At that point, we lost all meaning because the idea was that you draw for a day. It acts as a kind of abstract talisman but then you throw it away or burn it; it is not intended to be stored or collected.

Remy HYSBERGUE, A 58322, 2022
Acrylic on velvet on wood paneling

Coming back to Martin, maybe he should have stopped painting the way Degottex stopped when he went to the Zen monastery. There are those who die early, there are those who decide to quit and there are also those who continue and whose work sometimes weakens. I don’t want to exaggerate, Martin’s work is not unwatchable, far from it! It’s just that sometimes he’s a little cute. This also applies to Pierrette Bloch, his work was diluted at one point. I wonder if there hasn’t been a museumification of Martin’s work, linked to the market, because actually he made very little. But he is an interesting person and I pay enough attention to him.

I also read what he wrote. The demands of what he does, his relationship to work, humility and pride really interest me. Workshop work requires this requirement. I had a fellow old painter say that a painter can be seen twenty meters away. That’s not so wrong. It makes no sense to be a painter after everyone who came before us. If you don’t have a little humility, but at the same time a little pride, you won’t start painting.

When I graduated from Decorative Arts, I hadn’t painted in ten years, although that’s what attracted me. I don’t see where to attack the subject, it seems impossible to me. Now I do it because I need to get started doing something and having fun, but if you’re going to the Louvre for just an hour, there’s reason to want to cut it all out. How could they paint such a picture…? They came from outer space, no way… Think Franck Stella, imagine the thickness of Stella’s catalog raisonné! Of course, not only is it good but one wonders how it could be the work of an artist. Is he cloned? Artists of this stature, not much…

Among my contemporaries there is one artist who interests me. His name is Thierry De Cordier and he paints funny. He was trained as a philosopher. He painted very little, he exhibited very little and he refused to catalog anything. There are people like that, a bit strange but alive. Martin Kippenberger has done some very good things. I find that Julian Schnabel has, at one time or another, done some interesting things; with color, velvet, there’s one thing he knows how to do well. There aren’t many people whose work I really admire, whose work makes me like, “Wow! He’s done it again,” but there are still really great artists. For example, every time I go to see a Daniel Richter exhibition, I get slapped; I tell myself my own “no, he wouldn’t dare do that”, and actually he did, and I appreciate it. Or Albert Oehlen, I often say to myself, “he’s pushing that aspect again”.

Remy HYSBERGUE, A 56022, 2022
Acrylic on velvet on wood paneling

There are impressive people but, overall, we’re too fixated on one era. There are lots of works that are exactly what is expected now and which in six months will be just has. I feel a lack of depth, heaviness. It’s not nostalgia. Godard died recently. I must have watched three-quarters of the film. He is someone, every time I watch one of his movies, after five minutes, I’m almost fed up, it’s so rich, questioning the way I watched this movie, that I used to watch. watching movies, and how this habit can be changed. Monsters thinking about what it will be like before it happens, in painting, I’d have a bit of a hard time quoting you.

But at times like these, we have to digest billions of images every day; You must be isolated in the forest for thirty years and still want to paint to create a masterpiece that is out of date. If you want to make a rather serious painting, you have to digest it, it takes time. Three hundred years ago, we toured two or three places in Europe and we have circled the painting. Even if there is something else in other civilizations, we don’t know. Now, we can do it from our armchairs but there are billions of images, billions of images that others are swallowing, digesting, and regurgitating. We have to put everything together.

One solution is to start from what made the painting, regardless of any movement (in any case, no more movement). For me, it’s light, touch, care for composition because, at this point, I think, a lot of laziness. To me the question is “what do we do now?” »

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