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Paintings - Text Martin Hildebrand


Peter Valentiner. Painting controlled chance. Valentiner's paintings are like looking through a kaleidoscope. This means two things: on the one hand, the emphasis is on the playfulness of the maieutic, on the other hand, his works are not fixed views of something that is completely beyond his control. By rotating the toy, one can change the constellation of the crystals at will or voluntarily stop them in a determined combination, which then seems random: "My chance is not the same as yours", Marcel Duchamp once said.

The magical nature of Peter Valentiner's search for images presents itself as an illustrative model of this observation. With the laws of chance, he ventures into areas of the irrational that can sensitise both freedom and constraint. Basically, the methodical transformation can be observed as a conscious balancing of pictorial and technical representations and intellectual and theoretical representations. His lack of confidence in visual reality is compensated for by a thoughtful process of making his paintings, a process of making that is based on the principle of balance. The final work of art is an anthology of quotations, which the painter incorporates in a refined way as a deliberate risk. Valentiner's skill, which can literally be interpreted as abstract, uses the achievement of the take-off to enchant the canvas into a pictorial landscape treated as a mosaic (François Dufrene's 1957 underpaintings, i.e. the underlays of torn posters, are understood as abstract paintings). ) Moreover, the artist's obvious interest in cubism is not related to the withdrawal of colour in favour of form, nor to the sculptural aspect of the work, which is always in motion.

The views are at the same time a representation of space in the surface. What fascinates Valentiner is rather the prismatically decomposed representation of a truth that is not generally recognised in its simultaneity. Moreover, one must be aware that in the end, a violent act, which originates from the technique and not from the thing represented (Bacon), produces a situation with an indeterminate outcome: what has been removed is lost forever, the surviving forms are irreversibly dependent on each other. One phenomenon in particular characterises this painting, which for the time being is in no hurry to free itself from illustrative aspects, as an original position: it is a structural principle achieved by judicious random accumulations, which can be named by the formula of the attraction force of the referent. From an incalculable number of possible events on the homepage, it is possible to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Valentiner separates the favourable cases from these eventualities in a concentrated and decisive manner, which also have a remarkably intense affinity for harmonious alternation.

In this context, the desire for camouflage proves to be an essential perspective. The systematics of image production can indeed be traced back to reflections based on the observation of mimicry in nature. The result is an intention of deception that aims to surprise the viewer, who suddenly discovers, behind an instantaneous impression that he thought he had already grasped, new structures of order that destabilise him: the comparison with a camouflage net is justified. For Valentiner's images, which track down the imaginary dimensions of the unconscious, are characterised not only by what they reveal on the surface, but also and above all by what they reveal in depth.

These creative modalities, which play with our careless disposition to fleeting perception, give the illusion of a reality that only has the appearance of itself. The holistic idea that presides over the painter's associative combinatorial arrangements cannot be reduced by the first impression of fragmentation of the compositions; in each fragment there remains the perpetual idea of an absolute vision that must include both the visible by recording it and the hidden by completing it. The whole complexity of vision is achieved in the successive learning of each individuality of image, just as Valentiner's works are characterised by a temporal moment: the impression of movement, the auditory vision of musically orchestrated timbres, the experience of rhythm, the perception of space and time. Excitement and calm are characteristics of creation, as are charges and tensions, falls and rises.

What counts is the state: the mastery of the moment keeps the images in a nerve-sensitive floating zone, between obstinacy and reference, which can emit a magnetic pull. An example (Blue Night Shadows 1984) illustrates this: in front of an indefinable image background, of a consistent blue-black, irregular, clearly differentiated and inserted patches of colour of different size and shape float; they assert their flat structure. But does the absence of geometric perspective also imply the absence of spatiality? Probably not. Otherwise, how could one speak of floating, of movement? There must be another kind of space that the image wants to take us to. This imaginary space, which seems to extend beyond the limits of the painting, is inaccessible and mysterious. The viewer can distinguish three illusory levels, especially because of their small difference in height: the unreal presence of the blue-monochrome background, which does not provide any reference point, even a deceptive one, such as measurable depth, and two layers of overlapping coloured shapes. The silent, even apathetic existence of the background seems of great urgency. This background seems almost untouched by the precise processes of the moment that dominate the other two planes.

But it must also be seen as an enveloping medium, in front of which all events take place and which acts in everything. Opening and closing at the same time, blue-black can be seen as a possible expression of transcendence. Blue is always shaded and tends towards darkness in its greatest splendour.

It is an impalpable nothingness and yet present like the transparent sphere (Itten). This overall conception is counterbalanced by the fragmentary character of the islands of colour with their strict contours, which move freely at first glance. Their irregular contour oscillates between long straight cuts and sharp-edged jagged break edges. In their downward movement, which tends to fall and is so little explained by their almost non-existent heaviness, the front colour segments overlap those below. The light layer, developed solely from modulated orange tones, is composed of seven individual elements that are used (to aid the plastic) in the manner of steles. Thanks to its conscious insertion into the structure of the image, which functions as a sort of buttress, the picture is formally divided into its dominant vertical part.

La surface rectangulaire élevée n'est pas structurée horizontalement. D'un point de vue chromatique, les longs traits orangés se comportent en un contraste clair-obscur extrême avec le bleu noir qui les enveloppe ; le bleu spiritualisé évoque presque sa couleur opposée, l'orange. Tandis que le bleu, qui est en arrière-plan, est perçu de manière introvertie et peut avoir un effet suggestif, l'orange est doté d'une énergie rayonnante. Il se rapproche souvent d'un rouge-orange flamboyant ou est teinté d'une nuance olive à l'aspect végétal. La couleur atteint ainsi une nouvelle qualité, une autre matérialité que celle de la couleur de fond.

Si l'on peut déceler des traces isolées de dessin gestuel sur les formes colorées du fond central, elles sont marquées au premier plan par une volonté propre dynamique. L'écriture, guidée par une excitation spontanée, apparaît comme une chorégraphie. des larges coups de pinceau, vitalisés par des glacis prismatiques. Il ne fait aucun doute que les différents fragments de couleur faisaient autrefois partie d'un tout. Les couleurs atténuées du premier plan vont d'un bleu transfiguré par le blanc en haut à droite, en passant par un gris dramatiquement rehaussé par le rouge, jusqu'à des nuances ternies par la lumière dans la zone sensible bleu clair-rose au centre du tableau, qui s'évapore vers le bas jusqu'à une valeur ocreolive terreuse qui se termine par un rouge terne et incandescent. Tous les fragments restants peuvent encore donner une idée de la force des couleurs rassemblées, en particulier la moitié droite du tableau, où le rouge du bord inférieur est placé en contrepoint du bleu du bord supérieur ; sur les fragments intermédiaires, on peut encore comprendre les sons de transition d'une couleur extrême à l'autre.

D'un point de vue formel, la disposition des sept parties de la surface de l'avant-plan Le modèle le plus clair joue le rôle de centre pour l'ensemble du tableau et pour les fragments qui l'entourent. La question qui se pose ici est celle des relations entre les différents éléments de cet organisme qu'est le tableau. N'est-ce pas justement l'organisation de l'ensemble de l'image qui peut empêcher la désorientation du spectateur ? Il faut parler de tensions, de tensions entre le bleu intemporel du fond et l'atmosphère transitoire du jeu de formes et de couleurs, de tensions entre les mouvements antagonistes verticaux et circulaires, de tensions soigneusement équilibrées entre le chaos et l'ordre, la sérénité et le sérieux, la liberté et la liberté. La forme n'est pas l'expression du contenu, mais seulement son incitation, la porte et le chemin vers le contenu. S'il agit, l'arrière-plan caché s'ouvre également, comme le sait Franz Kafka, l'homme aux yeux.

Martin Hildebrand


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