“La chronique des arts et des lettres”, Service des Causeries. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Tuesday, October 25, 1955. Author, Jean Simard. Producer, E. Piché. Les gouaches de Maurice Raymond
Whether it takes the form of Poetry, Music or Painting, we could say that the main feature characterizing art these days is that IT DOES NOT NARRATE. When a poet, for example, wants to express the following thought: “My wife, whose eyes are so beautiful that the memory of their STILL POOLS would be enough for me to bear solitude and imprisonment”, well! that poet, if he were named René Char, would simply say: “MY WIFE WITH EYES LIKE STILL POOLS FROM WHICH TO DRINK IN PRISON” – a dramatic shortcut that expresses the same idea, yet in the stringent language of Poetry; which no longer simply requires passive acceptance on the part of the reader, but genuine COLLABORATION, total “presence” in the DIALOGUE in which he is called upon to take part. Similarly, the Painter also feels drawn towards rejecting the descriptive mode which was once his, in favor of an elliptical language that is more direct, unadorned, compact, and eminently plastic. Instead of faithfully painting things, places or people that have triggered an emotional response in him, he is now trying to capture THE EMOTION ITSELF, and lay it warm and vibrant upon the canvas. His painting is therefore no longer a DESCRIPTION, but a PRESENCE, a TESTIMONIAL – just as he is no longer a MIRROR, but a PRISM. No longer does he say: “Here is what I see”, but like the poet, he says “My wife with eyes like still pools from which to drink in prison”. And this woman, these eyes, these still pools, solitude, prison, are no longer NARRATED: instead we are granted the tremendous honor of being allowed to create and to discover these AT THE SAME TIME AS THE ARTIST.
This week, at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, we are thus honored by a painter named MAURICE RAYMOND, who is exhibiting, a series of “GOUACHES” that I would not venture to call “abstract”, “non-figurative” or “non-representational”, knowing how ambiguous these terms can be. The artist himself cannot help but find cerebral connotations to the word “abstract”, suggesting a systematic manifestation of some spirit of refinement or spirit of geometry; and to him such terms as “non-representational” or “non-figurative” carry a note suggesting the negation of the thing described by focusing on what it is not. On the contrary, Maurice Raymond’s art is compelling, and, in a way, REALISTIC – not in the sense of the traditional realism of things actually SEEN, then IMITATED, but the realism of the author’s emotional life: the particular climate of those inner landscapes, with its movements, its impulses, its lyricism. In short, a PROJECTION: an infinitely more appropriate term in that it emphasizes what is both hazardous and deliberate in such an Adventure – an act of “fundamental recklessness”, since painters, now more than ever, tend to lean towards “exhibitionism” in their exhibitions. And if this austere and musical form of art has spontaneously become the natural LANGUAGE of so many contemporary creative artists all over the world, it is because it is obviously in tune with something profound, essential, and inescapable. A moment of contemplation, perhaps, in the secular unfolding of the pictorial Entity, a moment of questioning, a “moment of truth”; an irrepressible need, following the excesses of the mind and of the hand, to go back, for once, to primal forces: to seek WITHIN, at the heart of one’s being, in the depths of the personality, the true sources of a kind of art that no longer seeks to be a point of arrival, but rather to be a point of departure – an “INVITATION TO TRAVEL”.
The world that Maurice Raymond has uncovered within himself, and that he lays before us, is first and foremost a WORLD OF COLOR. Those shades that shimmer in his paintings, alternately sparkling or leaden, aerial or submarine, no doubt he has observed them in nature, and was penetrated and permeated by them. Yet once he has assimilated them – being mindful now only of the requirements of Expression – he uses them freely, disregarding the everyday objects that temporarily serve as vehicles for them. And the harmonic convergence of a certain shade of PINK and a shade of GREY, a marvel to our eyes, may only be the transmutation of the distant memory of a brick wall against a portion of open sky that he has seen. Taken strictly as they are, they carry limited significance; yet once liberated from their trivial bonds, they become pregnant with unsuspected resonance, elevated to a new level of dignity – which is in fact that of Art. Through a near miraculous osmosis between the Real and the Imponderable, we find in Maurice Raymond a painter whose painting is an INCARNATION.