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A life's journey


1984-02-09 Eine Lebensstrecke
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It is with pleasure that I can say that the artist of whom I write an article every month is exemplary in his artistic march and in his aesthetic positions. The word exemplary bothers me. Let's say typical. A certain way of combining personal stylistics with the aesthetic questions raised by the times. This is also true of Peter Valentiner, whose history stretches between the gestural way of painting and formal problems, between freedom and constraint.


I met Peter Valentiner in 1975. His paintings were an explosion of elements whose chaotic aspect contrasted strangely with the stiffness of the support and the coldness of the paint, a kind of static solidity. Valentiner had reached a turning point and I was curious to know what had happened in the meantime. Chaos, though controlled, naturalised chance. Instead of Valentiner's painting filling up with a large number of elements, it now gradually concentrates on 2 or 3 forms, with colour predominating. Quite in contradiction, the painting now gains in permeability and sensitivity. The contradiction has an explanation: the picture does not attain its unity through an external mastery, but finds it within itself. It gains simplicity and real rhythm.


Valentiner was born in Copenhagen in 1941 and has lived in Paris since 1949. He divides his time between Paris and Berlin and teaches at the Summer Academy in Trier (Federal Republic of Germany).


He began painting at the age of 18 after enrolling in the "Ecole des Beaux-Arts" of Tours, as he found there an opportunity to work regularly and receive further training. He now becomes enthusiastic about Pollock, Nicolas de Stael, Hartung and then rediscovers his childhood love for Van Gogh.


At 21, he leaves to live for a while in Madrid, where he meets the Argentinean painter Alberto Greco, known for his happenings. He is subject to the influence of Cobra and Saura. Between 1963 and 1967 he discovers abstract painting and the Pop artists, mainly Warhol and Raysse. Pop painting allows him to understand the American technique of the stencil, the hard edge, cut without emotion, completely opposed to expressionism. Pop art also leads him to the pure colours and the smooth surface, completely in contrast to the dirty colours of expressionism.


In 1969, he founded the Salon Environs in Tours, which brought together provincial artists who were little known at the time such as: Viallat, Pages, Bioulès and Clément. He now paints "targets" and "detectives" in the manner of Pop iconography. At the beginning of 1971 he uses camouflage, work on deception in painting: painting does not just give something to see, it hides, it deceives. He is now very close to Support/Surface (+), momentary reflections on the subversion and materiality of painterly work.


In 1973-74 he begins to invent grids, nets ready to receive different variations of colour. This grid functions like a constraint, it forms the subject of the painting. He defines his painting at this time as a "mixture of Vasarely and Morris Louis". The net requires large formats. Then 75 no more net, the disorder, the chaos. The chaos that has developed in his current painting, as I could see in his last works in Cologne (+): Broad, wide, chromatic and free.


There you see how Valentiner has gained freedom and how he understands today that the great questions posed by the avant-garde and Cubism have, in his opinion, already been dealt with by Raphael. I see !


Richard Crevier

in ATAC, Magazine,

Page - 9 - February 1984


(+) Name of an association of French artists in the seventies. (Dumont's little dictionary of 20th century art)

(+) International Art Market Cologne 83


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