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« Of the limits of my thoughts »
« For a radiographic look »

by Stéphanie Katz
december 2010

If it was possible to embrace the whole landscape presented in painting by Hervé Ic in one glance, we would have to acknowledge that a tenacious energy is at work in the image, which forces the spectator into an uncomfortable one on one with memory.
Everything happens as if Hervé Ic, something of a new breed of Historian of the Contemporary, had been working for several years on preparing some kind of inventory of implicit contexts that have built our present in secret. Just like our immediate memories’ cartographer, he elaborates an almost forensic investigation that shapes up around typical genre scenes. Using the 60s and 70s as an arbitrary point of origin, which corresponds to his own birth date, Ic offers us to come along on his progressive visual decrypting. This process leads him to rebuild a sort of a common album that braids together the sociological codes of locatable standard situations, memories that today can’t be told in a family setting, and the cultural references that function as implicit explicative legends. From the « Naval Battle » series and « Putti » which dove into the ambivalences of official culture’s good and bad taste, to the last « Freaks », which hide the caricatures of his contemporaries under the swellings of time, or the scenes of swingers taken from 70s’ porn magazines, or the portraits of today’s rave-going teens, Ic lays markers for an intimate process. If this process looks for causes asleep under its effects, it is because it is not satisfied with a factual and jaded acknowledgment of the Contemporary. So, Hervé Ic positions himself as being a part of a generation that inherits a coded memory, full of denials and renunciations and that it needs to be recognized by each in order to be able to neutralize its morbid effects. Caught inside a generational flux, Ic tries to understand its provenance in order to get ahead of the strangeness towards which he leads us.

But the breadth of Hervé Ic’s project can’t be solely measured against this immediate memory support program. It is necessary to add both the means and methods he allows himself, to reach his goals.
Firstly, it is as a painter that Ic takes cognizance of the fact that we have definitely entered the screen era. A screen is an optical apparatus that, among other characteristics, reverses the looks’ energetics by projecting towards the spectator a neutralizing spectral luminosity. As a result, where painting requires an inquisitive, sometimes predatory look from a spectator who follows the image’s stakes, the screen inversely scrutinizes its public by projecting a vector of light towards the outside. In trying to answer this new formatting that produces inactive looks, inert receptacles of a visible offered to consumption, Ic is betting on a strategy that doubles down in painting this dynamic inversion. As a result, through an aesthetics of mastered transparency, he manages to relaunch the inverted energy of the screens, by bringing back up from the bottom of the image a multitude of evocations, apparitions, suggestions that are like as many gaping holes and opened uncertainties in the rigidity of representation. Another light, this time the one of the paint, reveals the previous layers of the image, lifts the successive tracings of the memory, to build a kind of radiography of the contemporary implicits. Using paint in a true act of dissection of the collective memories, Hervé Ic’s stylistics questions the transversal heritages and maps out original equivalences between the attainments of the past and the stakes of the future. Therefore, this aesthetics of the translucent graft allows all the against-nature mixings and covers up all unacceptable proximities. From the symbolism of children’s tales to the verist nightmares of the adult world, some paintings build a multi-directional journey, in a landscape where the worst hugs the best, here brutality feeds affection and where sweetness broods over aggression. The plastic proposition adds to the symbolic hybridizations, the spectator’s eye labors to distinguish the shadow emanating from the mud, from the brightness of the rainbow, or the monstrous drawing of the set’s line. Within his register, even more than the « Landscapes » series, the « De Profondis » push to the limit the spectator’s assimilation capacity. Mixing the current genre scene, the reference to painting History and the cannibalistic morbidity of our societies in a bath of visual sugary treats worthy of all the well-being conditionings and of the contemporary amnesia, this series presents itself in front of the spectator like an uncomfortable mirror. Nothing left to observe or admire here that would lighten the spectator’s malaise, if perhaps a certain technical virtuosity that offers to share its enjoyment of execution. The reflection effect, which projects beyond the shadow part of time, surpasses any other acknowledgment while involving the observer in a plastic complicity and a formal gluttony of surface. t is always with an ambivalent difficulty that the observer manages to shed the nightmare’s glamorous slopes then turn away from multiple evocations that had been stirred in the implicit of the Visible. As is the case with some films, Hervé Ic’s paintings are capable of sweeping in depth the spectator’s imaginary, to the point of looming back up unexpectedly at the bend of a meeting, desire or hatred.
This painting’s strategy related to the screen somehow allows for some ports of rest. Just as we can turn off our computers, TVs or mobile phones, it is possible to hit the snooze button on the stratified imaginary that comes back from the bottom of Hervé Ic’s pictures as well. Only the screen of painting is left, bright vector looking to cool down, revealed as a pure projection device. Hervé Ic’s imaginary gallery is punctuated by all these paintings of light, frames without edges or backgrounds, waiting to
reminisce. Faced with these offerings of light, the spectator can, if he wishes, attempt to work on his
own implicit stratifications and transversal memories. A project in the form of a radiographic tool… offered to the community of glances…