« glam electro painting »
or the golden age of painting.
excerpts from an interview with Frédéric Bouglé
collection au Creux de l’enfer, 2007
1) Frédéric : Hervé, the first floor of this building here at the Creux de l’enfer appears as a very appropriate space for this personal exhibition of your paintings with the light of the bay windows beaming on the cymas. You said you wanted to realise ‘something as dense and as methodical as an opera’ untitled ‘The day the war stopped’. What did you mean?
Hervé : Very often I’ve been surprised by the complexity of some operas. They require so many skills to happen on stage. Opera being such a popular entertainment probably comes from the same mythical and emotional approach dominating all great epics. The acme of an opera is emotion. Nowadays, all drama or heroism sound suspicious. In a society where technique prevails, this specific deviance potentially seems revolutionary. It causes fear. The Creux de l’enfer is indeed a good scene; it ideally sets this kind of skilfulness in contemporary painting.
7) Frédéric : The sunset is part of a common aesthetic, everybody loves the beauty of a sunset. And it actually is such a commonplace, such a stereotyped and marked element that few people currently use it in the art field, either in painting or in photography. This ‘glam electro’ painting really intends to assert the obviousness of an idea of beauty. But for almost ten years now, mainly around the early two-thousands, you’ve been obsessed with light or with shiny balls. I specifically refer to that oil painting with the sea veiled in white sparkles.
Hervé : I admit that I was looking for some common aesthetic but my priority was less « beauty » than some kind of « obviousness ». At that time, like ten years ago, cynicism still prevailed in painting. This had become credulously tedious and I wanted to escape from heavy modernism. My main goal was to redefine a simple vocabulary and to sort things out. This is why I turned to basic and positive subjects able to embody a painting free from any ideology. I was really interested in the poetry of humble subjects, of disregarded topics, even the stereotypes. This is why in the spring of 2000, in Ajaccio, I started working on church statuettes, on graveyards, on boats, on budgerigars, on beaches… I was no longer afraid of the kitsch or of popular patterns. Actually, living in Barbes really helped me to understand the impact of these elements. I had even started collecting some three euros trinkets and it was great fun. Plunged into a baroque light, they could really get somewhat marvellous. Compared with the feeling of rejection they could inspire, it was quite fascinating. But it didn’t last and I quickly began to make my projects more complex, like in Marie Rotkopf’s gallery when, in 2001, I installed my paintings immersed in the light of a Christmas garland along with Steve Reich’s repetitive music. When they started to illuminate the Eiffel Tower itself, it became trendy, so I stopped. What still remains is my liking for chance meetings, just like the sunset. Now, how about the shiny balls? Well, my answer would be : embellishment, cosmetic, outer space, star, light.
To me, it would be some kind of universal rebirth. However, it also engendered fierce enmity among the old traditionalists. So, I’m willing to tell them: A bulldozer doesn’t last compared to the sunlight sparkling on the sea.