“On the crest between abstraction and figuration”: Pierre-Luc Poujol sets up his forests at the Paul-Valéry museum, in Sète

“On the crest between abstraction and figuration”: Pierre-Luc Poujol sets up his forests at the Paul-Valéry museum, in Sète

“On the crest between abstraction and figuration”: Pierre-Luc Poujol sets up his forests at the Paul-Valéry museum, in Sète

Image N° 513, série “L'Appel de la forêt”, 2022 (technique mixte, acrylique sur toile, 200 x 200 cm). cre¦üdit photo -® Bruno Pantel Bruno Pantel

Rich in 70 paintings, drawings and sculptures, the ’Arborescences” to be seen at the Paul-Valéry museum in Sète until May 26, brings together the most recent series by visual artist Pierre-Luc Poujol. An exploration of the tree motif of great power and beauty!

You never know why you love ? To seek an explanation would be to spoil this sublime mystery, so we won't go any further. And the tree then ? It's the same thing but we'll go all the same. "It's not a choice, I’ went there like that." Pierre-Luc Poujol has always been making work of trees, at least since he began creating his work. Whatever the reason that made bark its first material, the main thing is that it became forests.

Complete with 70 paintings, drawings and sculptures, the ’Arborescences” which occupies the floor of the Paul-Valéry museum in Sète until May 26, offers us the opportunity to appreciate several of its most recent essences. And to get lost in the depths of the woods as if in his thoughts.

The tree for pattern

"In the work that could be described as obsessive by Pierre-Luc Poujol, the tree is not never portrayed or treated in a univocal manner but invested by a constant power of formal evolution", underlines Stéphane Tarroux, the director of the museum and curator of the exhibition. Marked by lyrical abstraction as well as action painting, the artist based in Saint-Gély-du-Fesc since 2018 likes to vary the techniques (acrylic, charcoal), the methods (drawing, dripping , installation, volume), the tools (branch, plant fragment), and to put, so to speak, from the body to the work. "I like to practice very physical and gestural painting, while trying to put meaning into it, all the same. Most often by spreading my canvas on the ground and working at night, because we are no longer inclined to look for light in the darkness , confides the artist who says he evolves on "the ridge between abstraction and figuration".

We can see this from the first room of the exhibition which showcases all the variety of possibilities on its motif. From his series “The Call of the Forest”, canvas n°501 with impressive dimensions (200×450 cm) moves from abstraction to figuration, from a chromato-telluric power with evidence of nocturnal undergrowth, depending on the distance with which one views it, and admires it.

Symbolic exterior and interior 

Used for the poster, the work n°513 shows a network of tangled lines in a spectacular red on a blue background, which can evoke both branches and arteries. "Very widespread in his work, organic and biomorphic forms reveal astonishing equivalences between exterior and interior, between the body and the world", comments Stéphane Tarroux in his introduction to the exhibition catalogue.

Always in this first room, canvas n°637, in the “Empreintes” series, for which the painter used a bark as a buffer and ashes plants, the design forms an alignment of trunks, or a grid of stained glass filtering a thousand shades of light, or some gigantic electronic glitch…

The artist tree of itself

With its black and white kakemonos, the second room itself represents a birch forest that one would enter in silence due to its ashen pallor. "I wanted the audience to be immersed in an enigmatic forest", confides Pierre-Luc Poujol. In the large room that follows, a very recent work, number 626, the process of which is revealed by a video: "By working on the tree, I managed to get him to work directly", smiles the artist who placed a canvas frame in a forest near a charred oak ready to be cut down. The only pictorial intervention on the canvas is thus the impression left by its fall to the ground; a superb print, with zen minimalism… Pierre-Luc Poujol can be explicitly committed against consumerism and for ecology: his imprint n°568 features a barcode associated with the number of 42,000,000, which corresponds to the number of trees cut down per day in the world…

Reconnect with the living

But generally speaking, his art is allusive, and proceeds by poetic, symbolic capillarity. It does not impose, it makes you feel. For this we appreciate his series “Arbographies”, with its imprints of blue twigs and branches on a black background, notably two which, placed in front of X-ray cameras, are scrutinized like x-rays of a fracture and ;a lung. It is no longer a question of analogy but of the uniqueness of life…hellip;

We also savor, in the final room, the long format n°553 from the “Looking up” hung horizontally from the ceiling: to admire this foliage, you have to walk underneath it, nose in the air and mouth agape. And love in all that ? It is everywhere, near these trees, close to them, in beauty, in nature, for the living.

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