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25th young painters' exhibition

1974 - 25e salon jeune peintre
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For a good part of the younger generation, both artists and the public, the Salon de la Jeune Peinture is one of the rare appointments that should not be missed, not for its social niceties but because something happens there. While most Salons seem to be open to the worst kind of eclecticism in an attempt, after years of good and loyal service to art and artists, to maintain a conformism, if not a sclerosis, which by force of habit and a narrow bureaucracy of divine right, has finally invaded them, the Jeune Peinture, for the past ten years, has been trying to bear witness to living art and to its commitment to a political struggle against certain formal or aesthetic traditions. Here, the expression "Avant-Garde" takes on its full meaning. It is not a question of taking part in this derisory competition which makes the beautiful days of the official institutions, or para-official of famous galleries, and of a market which artificially precipitates the rhythm of the aesthetic consumption, the trade of high-flying art finding there that of the washing powder or the household electrical appliance, so that the trade works, small by its pettiness, big by the exchanges of currencies which it causes.

The Jeune Peinture which, from 1965 onwards, was emerging from the torpor into which the worst abstract academicism and the most boring "social" formalism had plunged it, knew how to stay awake. Thus a good number of "irretrievable" works were presented, so much so that they went against the sacrosanct "good taste" that reigned supreme. At this moment the bourgeoisie, through its strongholds, is playing art history against history by rehabilitating the worst academic facilities in a nationalist category, the main merit of these "French Caravaggio" being to reveal a Roman "bohemian" of the early 17th century as Montparnasse knew one at the beginning of this century (sic. ), she is the champion of "Hyperrealism" by multiplying flashy exhibitions and racy editions, and above all, at the CNAC she uses the most shameless amalgam and the most arbitrary censures to maintain the deception. Although it is being stifled on all sides, painting has a battle to wage, including in this closed field where artistic news is buried, to take part in the battle that the revolutionary forces are waging on the cultural front to tear the shadow of the dominant ideology. The weapons of this struggle, the objects in the hands of painters, seem derisory.

And yet the practice of painting is exemplary: a particularly conflictual mode of production, it engages the individual, from form to content, for an object of a particularly fluctuating value and yet systematically overvalued in relation to its function of use. This use is particularly repugnant, ranging from clandestine speculative investment to the apology of the worst misdeeds by the most grotesque and devious propaganda. The work of art is therefore never politically neutral; it still has to be sufficiently anchored so that it escapes the critical glosses that want at all costs, including that of laborious intellectual masturbation, to send it into the sky of art, which, although it is not the seventh, nevertheless allows the decorated and cultured louis-phillipards to get their kicks in the fixed and eternal sun of art for art's sake, in the soft murmur of the voices of silence. The anchoring of the work of art is, of course, at the level of a politically correct content, but essential are the means that surround it, that inscribe it, and that manifest it. The painter is all the more a capable activist in that he masters the signs, the elements of language that he manipulates.

The reality of one's own history, through a conscious practice, must therefore be admitted at the very heart of one's production. To be a painter by proxy is all the more important as the history of painting becomes the history of one's own social practice of the painter's craft. This presence of the painter is that of his autobiographical signs, but also of this temporality, this lived time, that the work of art can convey beyond the narrative or anecdotal appearances that the most accurate slogan can produce. Today, the key issue is the inscription of this irreducible dimension of a lived experience that bears witness to the painter's conscious presence in the world. To the senile political imagery inherited from the heaviest academicism, it is a question of setting up the act of painting as an irremediably political act, of making man the master of language, the activism of doing indissociable from saying. At a time when plastic means range from the poorest to the most skilfully sophisticated, may the Jeune Peinture, by going beyond the artificial quarrels of "schools", manifest the political dimension of the art of painting in a rigorous challenge to the fallacious obscurantisms that serve as an aura for cultural "affairs"! manifest the heaviness and the irremissible commitment of meanings! the provocative presence of painting in a world in crisis!


Paris - April 1974


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