« The most ordinary, the most pleasant and most certain way to hunt the painter is to begin by blocking the bolt-holes. »
Atypical, irreverent, sonorous, self effacing, Gérard Gasiorowski played many roles, wore many masks, but he was above all absorbed in painting, not to say carried away by it. In its excentric company he was transformed from an incorrigibly sedentary person into a fanatic nomad. So he proceeded along all the paths which led towards it. Won over, but at what a price, he accepted unconditionally the hazards of the phrenectic proximity which was to last for twenty years or so, only to end at his death in 1986. If for a scrupulous biographer, this terrible togetherness began relatively late, at the age of thirty four, it is because he needed impetus. The pause was all the more necessary since, doubtless frightened by the extent of the perspective opened before him, Gérard Gasiorowski stopped painting for more than ten years before resolutely plunging himself into his work. A preparatory silence, which Gasiorowski himself felt compelled to underline in all his biographies and which gives a mesure of proportion to his behaviour. From now on we should see this interruption as a function of or rather as the consequence of that hole, which to use his expression, goes through him : « I have always carried a hole, if you understand me, this very real hole which is the job of painting, into which I thrust painting, for through this hole, it can be seen brom the back and from the front, in short, in all its states. » Here, understanding properly means considering the whirlwind which agitates the work. A whirlwind physique which is immediately noticeable if ones takes the trouble to compare the beginning and the end of the « work », to place side by side the black and white canvasses (critically approved under the hyperrealist label) of the 1960’s and the fresco Fertilité (fertility) flooded with ochre turning to grey. That said, it is not a question of learnedly contrasting the « realistic » technique of his first pictures with the « abstract expression » of the last – which would certainly enable one to obtain the flat demonstration of a recto and a verso – but rather to sound the depths into which Gérard Gasiorowski never ceased to thrust painting during the whole of his journey. So we will then pay particular attention to his vertigo, so close to a cry, which, as Michel Leiris remarks, « is positively a hole or a tear in the fabric of civilised life ». In Gasiorowski’s case, the experience of the tear was that of his journey through the history of art until he reached Lascaux, point of origin and the supreme moment when he invoked the aid of the Indian woman Kiga, painting personified. This recourse to the character of Kiga will hold our particular attention, since the exhibition at Villeneuve d’Ascq sets out to show the singular presence of this joyous stranger, working at the very heart of Gasiorowski’s output. In fact, everything starts from and retturns to Kiga. The incarnation of this hole which is painting, she will be the observe and the reverse, a destiny to be found in her name, formed from the last two syllables of the anagram of Gasiorowski : Worosiskiga. An overwhelming meeting, in fact, for as long she works openly, he refrains from signing. He will experience to the letter this fall in his name, and changing his name, he changes the place of his name in culture. This name-stripping indicates the vertiginous feeling which pushes him from one edge of painting to another. A perpetual pendulum movement which brings him from from the present to the past, fascinated as he is by the everdiffering manners ratified by history and by the common matter of kneated substance which he finds as much in Goya as in Rembrandt or Matisse. He knows, of course, that that unbearable couple medium/subject remain forever indissociable, but he is obstinate, tempestuous even, in his will to straddle the pictorial torrent, at the risk of drowning in it altogether. There is something of St Thomas in this ardent apostle of painting, who asks, in order to believe, not to see but to touch. And this is why Kiga makes a savage of him, provoking that maximum divergence without which the act of painting could not exist.
From then on the non-actuality of Gérard Gasiorowski’s intentions can be felt, his fight against the times and his profound solitude. Understandable isolation, since, far from the brouhaha of schools duly labelled and commercialised by the brokers of the art market, he has been concerned only with painting itself, that island – to use Chardin’s word that he liked so much – of which he had only touched the edges. To circle around this inacessible land was the fate of Gérard Gasiorowski, an interminable quest which, in intense activity, led him to reveal everything while hiding an untranslatable secret. The inevitable consequence of such determination, the question what to do does not exist for this artist whose vision of the everyday is seen through the actions of a builder : « I fill in, I put down some of that protective matter, the only way to show that the subject is of no importance, that only that layer of paint which runs over the drawing matters. » In any case, if he is determined to protect painting, Gasiorowski does not escape either despair or happiness. It would be rude to ignore it, and to reduce his course to the logical pursuit of a goal long-since identified ; that death gives the illusion of unity is not in doubt, however Gasiorowski was not staking anything on it, and it will not be held against us if we stay as closely as we can to his hesitations and his rages in order to accompany him on his journey towards Kiga.
Extrait du catalogue de l’exposition Gérard Gasiorowski Le secret de la peinture
Musée d’art Moderne de Villeneuve d’Ascq
18 juin-17 septembre 1988