ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS
Bernard Gilbert - 2010 - D'une expérience à l'autre [FR, essay],
Painterly, Moving, Dancing and Precise
About Bernard Gilbert’s Paintings
Every painting by Bernard Gilbert (°1970) is one more try at creating a pictorial space: an illusion of depth obtained by juxtaposing parts or remnants of several layers of paint, which through their form, colour or texture, appear to be situated on different planes, a bit like flats in stage scenery. Many painters try to create paintings in this way, trying to say something about art, the process of painting, and what it means to be a painter. One of the wonderful things about looking at paintings is that so many people paint, and yet they all come up with new solutions, new formulae, new works. We're faced with infinite variety, surprising, sensual and liberating. And each time we face a new painting, we're challenged to see how it differs from all others.
What are the specific characteristics of Bernard Gilbert's works? The most obvious are the parts that look as if they have been silk-screened. He obtains this effect by using a metal tool to apply acrylic paint to the rough surface of a polyester canvas. More recently, he's been stretching the canvas onto a wooden support on which he applied acrylic with a big brush. This provides unexpected surface effects. The artist will often use masking tape to cover parts of the painting before adding another layer of paint. These strips may follow the wavy edges of the brush strokes used in applying the initial layer of acrylic, but they can also have geometric or accidental shapes. Here and there you see a kind of frosting effect, caused by the fact that the acrylic paint sticks poorly to the PVC coating the surface of the acrylic canvas. Some effects are created by painting through a sieve or a stencil. In one spot, you may see the fading effect of an airbrush, elsewhere you'll see a similar effect simulated with a brush. You may also see the sediment of real drops of water, created by spraying water over fine layers of paint, or fake droplets, imitated with a brush.
Each painting provides a new experience, a new pictorial space created through contrasting techniques. The contrast may relate to different textures, an unusual use of perspective (as in the false perspective of the black and yellow beams), or a surprising juxtaposition of colours. In one example, the artist's use of colour creates the impression that he assembled two paintings into one. Elsewhere, such is the use of colour and texture that an image appears to detach itself from the background and seems to float in front of the painting. Often the artist strives for intensity not only by contrasting colours, but also by using highly pigmented inks or mixtures of highly saturated acrylics which when dry, leave behind deposits which the artist calls "sharp little points that sting." Other kinds of sediment appear frequently in his work, with very subtle effects.
These are paintings about surface and non-existing depth. They are meeting points between grafted antagonistic elements. They are painterly, moving, dancing and precise.
Montagne de Miel, 10 October 2010