The ripping out of desire excised by the gouge.
By Frédéric Bouglé, June 2006
Whilst rummaging through the rubble of his old brain, Marc Brunier-Mestas brought out a
few indelible little monsters, and gave a modern appearance to their invisible powers.
Whether essentially in engravings or even in sculpture, it is through feminine and masculine
figurines that he explores the figure that he believed he knew best, or the one he is
learning to know. I will leave it up to the individual to decide on his own interpretation,
taking into account that here nothing is hidden.
A little character thumps inside the head in everyone’s psyche.
As the Brazilians say: “When God eats in secret, the Devil hurries to eat the platas”. In the
allegorical twinship of good and evil, a little character acts like a serving maid, thumps
inside the head in everyone’s psyche. In Jungian terminology, the “anima”, psychic phenomena,
the dark and unknown extent of self are personified in bipolar figures, sometimes
positive, sometimes negative, sometimes she, sometimes he . According to Kierkegaard,
“the path is not difficult it is the difficult that is the path”, here it is the path that leads to
forbidden niches inside ourselves. Arm-wrestling with himself as if trying to force his way
in, a dwarf holds up his masked face. And when he erects his phallus, equips himself with
an outrageous dentition, makes himself up to look like an austere butterfly or bird, hidden
appetites of an unquenched desire are represented . Cultural references make their
incongruous way in, like this little man who is aroused by a bird, probably a reference to one
of the mysteries of the grotto of Lascaux.
A bohemian singer claimed that it was necessary to cut oneself off from one’s roots to be
better able to walk. One of the engravings represents a head walking on its nose, another
one shows a nose walking on its tip, and another one suggests a washing machine equipped
with a pair of legs and feet. Like Alien throwing itself at human faces, little winged sculptures
don fishhook tails as if to catch the desired prey. And if an open-mouthed figure spits out
a black cat over here, is it to exorcise itself of an unfortunate remark? And what about this
character with rabbit ears who is upside down? Slotted into a tight frame in his unconventional
position, he seems to be proud of it. This other will have his head cut off, just like the
young Saint Genès on his Thiernese rock, and that one, a gargantuan giant god grips a nearby
black cloud to quench his thirst, whilst a series of female dwarves urinate like bad fairies
on what is remaining of the white paper. A Pinocchio with his nose reincarnated, wears on
his royal cock a pewter crown; elsewhere another one wiggles his bottom like the jester in
a sick game, whilst this tree with its broken branches is more furious and tormented than
if it had been engraved by Dix and Kokoschka, or even by Fabien Verschaere.
This deserted space between soul and human urges.
“Everything is grey”, said Mitterrand. With these prints, everything is less balanced. Only our
most fidgety dreams enjoin us these worlds of ripping out. Nevertheless I let you not
represent them as you do not have the same talent. “People need everything, what people
need is incredible. But they don’t want the truth”, also observed a writer. However that may
be, as everybody does not know, art is not meant to reassure, but to express truths that very
few people can formulate. Here, it is a matter of engraving the unfathomable irrational bustling
about between soul and human urges, something mixing with the riffraff in this deserted
Midgets, sylphs, homunculi maybe ?
These disturbing gnomes that the artist takes pleasure in creating, in the very exercise of his
practice, comes within and revives a cabalistic mythology, and the subjective exploration
of the inside that concerns it. Marc Brunier-Mestas does not court madness because if the
artist’s unconscious is strong, that does not mean that his conscious is weak. There will then
be, for a wise soul , neither an irruption of the uncontrolled unconscious nor a swallowing
up of the conscious that would cause an unsteady self to collapse. No, and so much the
better. So who are these germs of semi-human beings with shrunken misshapen bodies
that Marc Brunier-Mestas hunts down with his graver? Midgets, nixies, sylphs, ugly water
sprites ? Nasty little spirits who keep the treasure of his art and knowledge in return for
“Homunculi” maybe, these harmful small beings with supernatural
powers that medieval alchemists claimed they could create? Those ones enter the heart or
the brain of a human being to control him. The word derives from the Greek word “homo”
which means the similar one or the “similar little one”, the same, that is why the homunculus
is a miniature of the person who created it. You don’t believe me? Let me give you some
advice: if you own some of these strangely haunted engravings, you had better keep them
imprisoned under a glass frame.
According to Sade, if we let desire go, we all become criminals.
Reptilian animals, insects or snakes, birds or humans, all of them are made out of flesh, in
the three kingdoms of nature which keep them inside a thick black frame. The Ancients
often represented gods and goddesses with attributes or figurines. The engravings, cards of
a unique tarot, act on others just as they act on the artist himself, determining complex signs
whose opaque signifier is beyond conventional understanding. “Dream is the aquarium of
the night”, wrote Victor Hugo, an engraved night that the artist sounds out in black and
white. Just like an adulterated vodka in an unwell stomach, the work in question scours the
unconscious if need be. According to Sade, if we let desire go, we all become criminals ;
desire contravenes its crime here in the ripping out of lino excised by the gouge.
Frédéric Bouglé is an art critic, member of the AICA