A UNIQUE ART OF SPACE
Anne Tronche in Antoine de Margerie – Editions du Regard – 2010
A blank canvas, a canvas waiting to be painted is the scene of a unique operation where thought is transformed into forms or perhaps images. Thus, it is not always easy to understand a painting, for painters, when they are not being theoretical or developing arguments regarding their work, often know very well how to hide the secret meaning of their choices and their ambitions. Whether the works present a commentary of the world that surrounds us or the organisation of the forms meets specific requirements or obeys particular pictorial rules, we realise that, in some cases, the artist seeks first and foremost the autonomy of the painting. A state very often achieved through work, imagination, but also through doubts. This explains the internal shifts in the visual language of a great number of creators, particularly during the XXth Century, when the question of the figurative and the abstract led some of them to opt to swing between these two extremes which were often guarded by puritanical sects. An oscillation which often courageously expressed temptations, renunciations and indeed complete breaks. From Herbin to Jackson Pollock, from Malevitch to Hélion we follow a trajectory which helps us understand the complex nature of the artistic language, and the divides some creators had to cross to bring their project to fruition.
Thus we can see in Antoine de Margerie’s paintings affinities which link him, according to the period and with equal relevance to artists who, through figuration, sought the path towards synthesis in a visual expression freed from all realist temptations or, on the contrary, to movements in which the artist’s work evolved towards rational geometric shapes. However, none of these links is really clear enough for us to understand the intensely creative journey of this discreet, relatively solitary artist. No doubt because in his painting, imbued with sensitivity, he essentially sought to achieve an artistic reality which depended neither on a fascination with an overly experimental vocabulary nor on a position giving concrete expression to theoretical dogma.
When we observe his compositions, whether they evoke a space which could seem familiar or whether they organise planes in an abstract logic, it occurs to us that, with the aid of his pigments and his canvas, Antoine de Margerie sought to deal with a highly phenomenological question, which can be expressed thus: « What is the seen? » Depending on the periods, this question became more radical, more decisive or, on the contrary, leads us to suppose that, on reflection its importance was put into perspective. As if contemplation were to lead ultimately to knowledge which could result in a work which was itself an enigma.
Antoine de Margerie became interested in art at a young age. Frequent contact with an uncle, Paul de Laboulaye, who was himself a painter, the presence of works by Bonnard in his family environment, besides developing his eye and his sensitivity, probably nurtured his imagination and played an active role in developing his vocation. The main reason for his higher education in literature, then courses leading to a diploma at the Ecole du Louvre, was to reassure a family circle worried about the risks of an artistic career. Without diminishing his desire to put his artistic leanings into practice his education led him, in particular, to think about the art of the past, to analyse the metaphorical power of forms in civilisations which are foreign to our artistic sensibility, made him understand that the way of the senses, that is to say art, is, in all ages the path of knowledge. At the Ecole du Louvre he met his future wife, Anne, who was to support him unwaveringly in his choices. His compositions during his education already reveal his interest in construction and his taste for colour tones which open the space beyond the subject.