A drawing… A line! “Being Sisyphus”, Jean-Philippe Roubaud
#DRAWING It is a simple and quite classic graphic work at the beginning but which takes a strong turn encompassing all the arts. The starting point of a work, drawing becomes presence, conquest and power through the hands of Jean-Philippe Roubaud. Born in 1973, from Le Cannet and a graduate of Villa Arson, this multi-lived artist works with graphite like wash, weaving obvious links with pictorial, sculptural and architectural practices. Present this summer at the “Un peu de gourmandise” festival in Bonson, he is currently participating in the inaugural exhibition of the new Montpellier exhibition space La Serre. Represented by the Sintitulo Gallery in Mougins, it had been one of the white cards of the contemporary drawing salon Paréidolie in Marseille in 2018, and its second monographic catalogue “Didascalie 2, Autodafé / Didascale 3, Limitation du paysage” published by the friends of the M.A.M.A.C de Nice, is currently available.
Marlène Pegliasco: Jean-Philippe Roubaud, present us your career path.
Jean-Philippe Roubaud: My career path always seems a little strange in hindsight, it is both linear and sinuous. Before considering this as a life project, my first artistic loves, encouraged by my parents, were quattrocento and comics. As a child, they let me draw in the museums of Florence and I got my first hour of glue because of Reiser’s book “They are ugly” that I brought to the C.P. It marks a man. Then an artistic baccalaureate, then the Beaux-Arts in Valence and the Villa Arson in Nice. All this may seem pretty straight and basic but in fact my training has always been a little chaotic. I was curious about everything. I started by training in sculpture on stone and then painting and I also made a living restoring paintings and old ceilings. All this while pursuing an artistic career in pairs around the question of painting. Five years ago this collaboration (of 15 years) ended, and there was a Copernican revolution. I re-founded my practice by starting from scratch. It can be said that after all these convolutions I returned to my first loves, in short to the bone of what has animated me since my childhood, drawing.
Marlène Pegliasco: What place does drawing have in your creation?
Jean-Philippe Roubaud: In fact, for the last five years, it’s just him. The drawing itself has become the project in its own right. To make sure there is no ambiguity, I have reduced my technique to graphite (powder or pencil) worked dry or in aqueous phase systematically on paper. Anyway… no color, just values.
For me, drawing contains all the possibilities of the body and all the other arts, architecture, sculpture, painting, writing, mathematics… It is the project, the purpose but is not only the alpha point of any practice. It is the essential gesture that innervates all the arts but must tend to be a terminal gesture as well. For example. Drawing only brings light into existence by contrast, it only makes the dark and so it has lurked for centuries in the shadow of painting. Likewise, because of his fragility, he cannot claim to taste the eternity of sculpture, but the world has changed, the ways of looking at it and the systems of conservation have changed. It does not build anything, it is only a plan, but at a time when a laser printer is building a house, the question of construction, volume and materiality is much more open.
I could go on for a long time… but in the end it’s still there.
Drawing by its simplicity is an infinite playground. Its apparent simplicity is its strength and no matter what is said, it is present everywhere. I am fortunate to live in an era that understands and encourages this movement and this empowerment of this medium.
Marlène Pegliasco: What are your inspirations?
Jean-Philippe Roubaud: To totally assume drawing as a unique practice does not mean that I am curled up on my pencil lead. No, on the contrary, I look with a new acuity at everything that constitutes the arts in general.
You could even say that they are the ones who feed me.
Nevertheless, to put it simply, we can say that my two favourite paintings are “the Arnolfini husbands” by Jean Van Eck and “the Issenheim altarpiece” by Mathis Grünewald. That my first artistic emotion was Benvenuto Cellini’s “Perseus” in Florence. That Gerhardt Richter’s work is for me a model of intelligence and beauty. That “I what I love is monsters” by Emil Ferris is a wonderful comic strip and that I learned to draw by copying the work of Jean Giraud (alias Moebius). That I passionately love the work of contemporary artists, such as Robert Longo, Vija Celmens, Jean Luc Verna, Jérôme Zonder or Abdelkader Benchama…
But anyway the list is much too short….
Portrait of a draftsman:
If you were in drawing: I cheat a little bit but I’ll choose a watercolour, “the big tuft of grass” by Albrecht Dürer. A brilliant declaration of love for the power of art, The transfiguration of the banal into the raw state, the universe on a sheet of paper but in a modest way, far from any noise. Being able to watch this work still touches me as much as ever, it’s “The infinite within reach of a poodle” as the other said.
Your favorite technique? Graphite on paper.
The most unusual support? Sorry I’m a pretty monomaniacal paper boy. In fact, what is perhaps really unusual is to use it as I sometimes do, like volumes or architectures, and to structure the space with this support.
“Drawing is like”: Being Sisyphus, working all day and starting again in the morning. To wage a war that we will never win, but despite everything… to fight the flower with a gun.
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