An abstract painter in the 3.0 age


Silvère Jarrosson embarked on a painting career in answer to a calling that witnessed him suddenly realising: that’s what I want to do!, as he discovered a friend’s pictorial work. What, Painting? Yes, painting. Nothing at the outset destined him to become a painter. He had trodden an entirely different path—being destined to become an étoile dancer When he had to face the impossibility of continuing in that direction, he started reading biology as an undergraduate. That was when he discovered painting as a vocation. From that point onwards, he put himself to work, fired by a boundless passion, and never strayed from his chosen path. He became what he had at that moment understood to be, painter.

The strength of a vocation is that it gives the courage to pass the obstacles one by one, without flexir. The vocation opens a path and this path that opens itself is proof that the goal not only exists but can be achieved since it makes one with the path. Each gesture is thus legitimized and by their succession, these gestures transform the path into a concrete approach that makes perceptible the fact that painting is also, essentially, a spiritual approach.

Painting and intensity

Being young, Silvère Jarrosson could easily embark on artistic practices mobilising the most recent techniques. He agreed to answer the call of painting because he felt that the magical power pertaining to devices and the world of 3.0 was relative and that there was a field and practice that could mobilize more complete and more complex forces tantamount to the roots of existence. It was evident that the painting could cause the most crucial affections to vibrate in us and participate as much if not more than the technical images in a change to our perception of the world.

Painting, contrary to what is affected to believe, does not mean first covering a canvas with colours and strokes. Painting is an act of thought. Admittedly, it is a thought that invents itself by doing things, and for which gestures are vectors of intensities and means of penetration into the visible. But it is precisely this—the invention of a new visibility—that constitutes the spring of the painting. Painting means bringing pictorial answers to questions pertaining to the visible future of unprecedented or novel aspects emerging in one’s mind.

It is enough to read the texts written by the painters to grasp the acuteness of the questions they ask, and the way in which painting is a unique vector allowing one to stage pure intensities of thought. This is why painting is, essentially, abstract, because it attempts to make visible elements that affect us but which we fail to recognise. The use of figuration must be understood according to this imperative of thought which is obliged,in order to express itself and to communicate, to pass through known or recognisable language elements. The figure, the representation of bodies and objects, landscapes and human situations play on the necessity of sharing, where abstract painting attempts, via the figure, to go back to more indefinable sources, moments arising out of the emotional process which is at the source of thinking, and to report on it using methods as close as can be got to their obscure reality.

The figural or the abstraction form

Without having decided it, but in response to the call of painting, Silvère Jarrosson opted for the most perilous method, namely to plunge into the strata of the world and of thought that are de facto below figure. In this way he keeps at a distance from the games brought into play by by imitation and figuration.

A figure is a form about which man asserts that it has acquired some degree of completeness, because he already knows it, since the pleasure obtained comes mainly from recognition, but above all because what he finds there is a kind of confirmation of his manufacturing abilities, which make him a double of God.

But nature, this great purveyor of forms, is not necessarily figurative even if, from end to end, it is figural. Everything that is moving—even if this motion is without any aim—tends towards a form or passes through forms; and we know that any stabilised form is only a stop in a process of evolution and, for each individual, a moment in the process that goes from the birth to death through all the transformations of life.

On the other hand, when one begins to travel in the worlds of yesteryear, before the arrival of man on Earth, before the existence of an outward gaze on what manifests oneself to all the degrees of the living—before the appearance of forms visible to the human gaze—we discover the infinite nature of the processes underway in the genesis of the world, together with their intense perpetuation, because everything lives and moves and continues to transform, and we approach the forgotten or poorly known continent of the various strata in which nothing of what we call figure exists.

In the world of abstraction, namely that of a non-geometric abstraction, everything is changing, and each element can be seized both in the movement of a transformation, and in the moment when it is being formed. If one tries to make a pictural account of what takes place then, one encounters what one might call the matrix of abstraction, a tension between process and genesis, between a form that is not yet stabilized and an apparently stable form. This matrix of abstraction is both the truest source of painting, and the deepest source of the figural.

Genesis and gestures

If one takes into consideration the very gesture of painting, there is no real separation between figure and abstraction, if not the one produced at some point in history by the deployment of a given culture in a particular region of the world. From the point of view of pictorial gestures, the stakes are the same: making that something happens on the canvas, or on the sheet of paper, whatever. In one case, the cultural imperative requires that this be a figure; in the other, it is sufficient that this is a form in the process of being born.

By choosing to practice a form of abstraction linked to both the gesture and the non-voluntary representation of figures, Silvère Jarrosson agrees to be confronted with the need to renew the way in which what trembles and vibrates, in the strata the most obscure of the Earth, of life, or of the psyche, shows itself to the world. His painting lies at the very source of geneses.

Body in action

Whatever may be the magnitude, or the restraint, that presides over the act of painting, the body is always involved in it in some way. The emergence on the art scene, in the immediate post-war period, of painters dancing around the canvas or meditating, the brush in hand, ready to release their most compelling urges in order to reach the imminence of a magical apparition of variable presences awaiting them at the surface, has radically altered both the reception and the genesis of the artworks that have emerged thereafter.

More than half a century later, Silvère Jarrosson is not so much asserting, without sharing it, the expressive power of the body, but rather mentally elaborating a visible future for the forces at stake in processes that affect nature in the widest sense of the word. Yet, as a dancer whose fate was changed by an unfortunate accident, he clearly aims to allow his body not so much to express itself as to carry itself outward, to accompany, in the visible world, a future that without it would remain unknown. Painting, as always, involves dancing, whether the dance is as limited and fine as that of a wrist that oscillates between palette and easel, or whether it is that of a body dancing with the colours, pots, tubes, while also making the canvas itself dance, using a multitude of gestures, allowing it to become the receptacle for future forms.

And one remembers then, that painting has always been a gesture of the hand, carried by the whole power of a body that thrusts towards the unknown the vital affirmation, void at this moment, of its very existence.

The law of chance

The pictorial technique that has been developed and elaborated by Silvère Jarrosson, and that he is alone in practising, is purely pictorial, insofar as it draws its resources from the acceptance of chance as the central element of the creative process. This is because he invents rules and processes as he goes along, which is only possible because this pictorial technique opens the door to a direct interaction with chance. This does not mean that it is the only chance tha would make the canvas. On the contrary, it is precisely because it puts into play both a body and a thought that Silvère Jarrosson can open the door to randomness, as a creative force among others.

Randomness is less something haunting someone engaged in a sort of nature-baiting game, someone who acts through the infinite processes of trial and error, of the recording and erasure of things learned, retained, wiped by a particular living or dead element composing it, both from the point of view of the cell and that of the species. Chance is the name of the possible at work in the general mutation movement to which each element, living or not, is subjected.

It is the voice of the singular in the rumour of the universal cacophony of noises that roam the world in all senses.

Confronting devices

There is a morgue and greatness in choosing, in this day and age, to express one’s relationship with the world via painting, when pretty much anyone nowadays has access to devices that can allow him or her to explore the unknown and the invisible, both by gathering information and in creating shapes in motion, able to replay on the bounded scene of the screen the unlikely but very real part of a genesis.

The stakes here are both strong and simple, even though it may seem of little consequence in the face of the mental grasp acquired by devices on our psyche. Through the movement of the thinking and dancing body, the aim is producing images of an emotional power and impact of greater intensity than that developed by technical images.

And this can only happen because there is a kind of feedback effect of the possible and of chance, mingled in the mind of the recipient of these works. It is not possible to doubt that they were made by someone, and this is tantamount to proof of this implication and this entanglement of body and mind that seeks to find, even without realising it, the one who discovers this painting style.

Imagination is queen

The dancer he was, and the scientist in biology that he could have been, have found, in the painter that he is now, a path of existence at once maximal and median. This is because the involvement of the body is sufficiently important for dance-related skillsto be used in the act of painting. As for the pathways opened by the approach to a high level of biology, they find in the game of the body associated with variations due to chance the way to become visually incarnate. Indeed, what one is given to see in the paintings of Silvère Jarrosson is a mix, at once subtle and dense, of uncertain and striking forms that make us meet the imaginative power of nature with the images that our imagination constantly produces.

To imagine is to produce images whose status may be ambiguous, but above all it means allowing scenarios a priori regarded as improbable, or even impossible, to be tested. Imagination is the absolute power of simulation in us. It is the mental double of what today’s devices make possible in an infinite way. The difference between imagination and the technical production of images lies—and this is essential—in the fact that our imagination acts directly on us because it acts directly out of us. Imagination is one of our faculties, and as such, it is essentially a producer. The discredit which it suffered at a particular moment in the history of thought remains marginal when put in the perspective of recognition of its infinite powers.

A Silvère Jarrosson painting is both a pure product of the imagination and an undetermined image indicating the appearance, but also the potential disappearance of a form undergoing mutation. Each of his paintings is a possible awakening, an affirmation extracted from the night, a form being tested out.

Each painting is an image born of the mixture of dance and chance, of the call of dormant forms in the bosom of nature and of the masterly intention of giving shape to improbable forms. Each painting is the capture not of a real thing by the imagination, but of a figure internal to the imagination itself. In this sense, every time we look at one of his paintings, we simply penetrate a dream. And this dream is not the dream of a self, but the dream that everyone can make when he or she allows the chtonian and cosmic nature within himself or herself to stretch its nets in the flow of his or her imagination.

Each painting by Silvère Jarrosson is a door that opens directly to the dream that we dream.