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Bernard Marie Collet

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© Bernard Collet

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My training was classical: Académie Julian, then Beaux-Arts de Paris. Working in the studio of the painter ORAZI, I discovered the expressiveness that materials, colours and shapes can have in themselves, without any figurative representation. I was able to meet painters who were mature at the time, such as Édouard Pignon, Damian, Krajberg and their friends from the Salon de Mai. This training and these meetings made my hand more flexible and sharpened my eyes.

Learn to balance the impulses of colours against each other, the slow and muffled vibrations of browns, the stridence of primaries, the heavy depths of blacks, the strong breathing of whites, and then, the most subtle, the influenceable availability of greys. Delicate alchemy where balances should be fine to balance echoes and resonances. Abstraction was thus another school for me.

But painting is also about representing, that is, presenting again, presenting from what we perceive, from what we select in the extraordinary spectacle of the created world. A show where shapes and colours emanate from a sky, an undulating field to the wind, a glimpse of a face, or a passing silhouette. Shapes and colours are then indissolubly linked to an existing reality and on the canvas they will be the only mediums to evoke it.

For me, painting a landscape, a portrait, an event is a way of appropriating what is external to me. It is isolating a fragment from reality, and trying to make it vibrate again flat and differently on the limited space of the canvas. It is then that we must use the abstract balances of alchemy to achieve balance or harmonize the coloured vibrations, a little more of this color here, soften this other one, draw perhaps an oblique here or add the sinking of some black elsewhere.

Leonardo da Vinci advised to observe some old walls very closely in order to discover in their irregularities the possibilities of entire landscapes. We can reverse this approach and look at a landscape, at a face or a sky as a sum of coloured shapes with no other meaning than those of their own vibrations, or their respective "weight" and their location on the surface of the canvas. My painting is thus intended to be a representation of reality at the same time as a simple presentation of an abstract coloured plan. Abstraction and figuration are like my two painter's legs. And limping is inevitable, I sometimes rely more on one leg than the other. For me, it is a source of diversity, adventure, renewal and even discovery. To paint is to make people see, and as Maurice Denis affirmed, to arrange shapes and colours in a certain order on a flat surface to address the eye. Also what is painted or drawn should not need literature to exist. A canvas, a correctly elaborated drawing exists by itself, with only its plastic means. The title itself, is already chatting....

My work revolves around Nature and History.
Nature ? Yhat is permanence, the reassuring regularity of natural cycles. Painting the bulging hills, a few bushes in the coolness of the forests, drawing the path from the sap to the veins of the leaves, following with a brush the slow swelling of a cloud, this expresses my urban nostalgia for poorly humanized spaces....

History ? On the contrary, it is linear time, the time that passes and does not return. To draw the vestiges of what remains of it, some fragments of broken statues or some eroded steps in the heart of a vegetal landscape, is not for me an academic exercise, but a tribute to what was and is inexorably being absorbed in the vast indifference of the natural cycles. The resonance of the myth for us vanished, of which these ancient fragments were the support, is replaced in the breaks, the blunt angles, the scratches, by the consciousness of the sedimentation of time. Representing them updates what has been in a contemporary cycle, moves towards another permanence, and better ensures our roots. At least know where you come from if you don't know where you're going. Isn't this a way to ward off our anguish ? And, here again, from two differences, the cyclic return and the linear scrolling, try to make two complementary ones...

main exhibitions and publications

last solo exhibitions at the "galerie Saint-Roch" :


pastels mediterraneens         exposition Itineraires

venise       Égypte

Cross-portraits Nils-Udo et Bernard Collet

Some oil paintings of my friend Benjamin Orcajada, painter, philosopher and poet ...

Pastels and drawings of Christian Bouchon 1939 - 1989.

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