Jean-Marc Desgent


            Here is the sanctuary, the place with no being, the place of things which disturb, which vanish without disappearing (it's the divine game of painters), of things to appear, to become, the place of things which have a body (the flesh of objects is obvious, it's their presence elsewhere, always elsewhere which dissolves us into certainty), which have a body and probably a soul to account for the agitations that sharpens them, here the sanctuary, not on the other side of the world, but in this very space, not hidden by the world, but generated, revealed from its very own flesh of moving things, animated, troubled, here the sanctuary is me. I am the being, and the being of the painting.

            I am the place, the space now, it is where we are, without knowing that the place lives in us more than we live in it, we are transformed by the space we believe we cross, it pierces us, infringes (soon we will become the knive in the flesh of shellfishes) and from there (here, in fact), we begin to think as things from this world and the other one, the one we were never able to imagine.

            I am thus the place, the space now of shed liquids as we say blood must be shed (wax and color are its essential theatricality), shed one's blood to seize the space of things crossed by the movement of death, as we say rumple the folded sheets, necessarily undo the sheets, pull back the creased shrouds in the mystery of bedrooms, that is at the heart of the enigma of intimacy. I am these shed liquids, blood, oil, seawater trapped within the shell, in the enigma of sexes on the sheets, in the sheets, for the shrouds which haunt us, shrouds and stage curtains, tragi-comic scenes of death, this shroud is memory made flesh, made mask.

            Is painting the reminder of our finiteness ? The still life is our only actual portrait because it foreshadows us, it is our vanitas, our memento mori. Here, in the painting and in the space that haunts us, here objects sing of the absence of beings, us, our bodies, our sexes molted in the sheets to fold back on our small deaths. All the same, we have nothing sacred... Alone, our objects will outlive us... What habit do we have of painting's of sacred things ? Here's why in front of the painting, we are dead. The hand that paints creates the sacred in our poor real lives, it is a barely visible sanctification of the world, this sacrifice of obviousness, a sacrament which changes us and brings us high in our failure to see within us, one less sacrilege.

            In fact, what do we see ? What is a knife disposed near an oyster ? Who has used the knike, who will eat the oyster, who will drink the seawater while remembering that we are foremost beings that have always vanished from the picture, inside the picture, but barely visible, inside the picture, but not yet actors in the painting's scene ? What is an empty bedroom with unfolded sheets, what is a lightbulb, who lives in the room, who has unfolded the shrouds ? A little being ? I am the world's seawater with a knife disposed nearby when all is accomplished, when the painting starts talking two tongues (at least two tongues) at the same time : I am the shed liquids, blood, oil, water by salt, I am the still flowing enigma, flowing from the monstrous body of signification.

            In the sanctuary, one gets to think twice about the meaning of things. Nothing is given, one must die everything twice, two tongues twice, one has to imagine the bed of troubles, the bed of doubles, of reversals, of flows, one has to believe in our sexual ability to paint (it's the dirty work of always having to name, to think, to represent), one must wish that a lightbulb stays on somewhere in the nudity of the surroundings (it's the painter's light in our true obscure lives), in the vanity of the place, one must imagine this terrestrial nourishment (oysters offered to our bodies of no one) like a meaning given to our own history.

            Who burns everything ? The painter. He alone possesses the hot wax of masks. I burn in front of you in the middle of things, I burn my body in the bed of all mirrors (that's why I'm so invisible, I am in front of the painting, the one you're not yet looking at, look at me twice while speaking the tongues of doubles), I am the hot body of independant things in the middle of the world's events. Here (the visible, the center of immediate surroundings, the invisible presence of the sense), there are Men, but we don't know where, don't know how. Men are here in the encaustic's unclear swirls, in the displacement, in the frantic hesitation of colors superimposed, or brushed like absent bodies from the bed. Men are here, but their sexes are unfinished; their wax mask not yet belonging to the scene, to the mirror.

            There, there is the painting, far, in the origin of the eye that reinvents at every moment the meaning of things. The eye thinks twice : what it sees here, what it tries to see in this disorienting immediateness. Everything is vertigo in the heart of objects at which we stare; they unfold us in front of our own mystery.

            Here is a room in which one must penetrate like a knife in the flesh. Here is the bedroom and the sanctuary, one must slide inside to recognize anything, anyone always started over, always unfinished, it is us in the mirror of unmade beds without us being really there, in the sacred mirror of absent little beings.

Jean-Marc Desgent, September 2003

Translation : Nicolas Masino





©2004 Alexandre Masino