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Histoire

Histoire, 1987

Jean Le Gac
  • Artist (1936)

At a very early age, Jean Le Gac, born in 1936 in Tamaris, displayed an outstanding gift for drawing and painting. He earned a degree as a teacher of drawing and visual arts, and began teaching in 1958. At the end of the 1960s, he sought out his models in the fields of human sciences, literature and photo stories, and drew his inspiration from his own life. When he discovered the “new criticism”, he subscribed to the idea that there is no creation without discourse, and came very swiftly to the notion that painting cannot do without its commentary. With Cahiers, (1968-71), he presented 26 open school notebooks, displaying, on the double page, a handwritten text and an amateur photograph. The figure of the painter appeared more and more frequently in the following works which involved texts and images on walls (Le peintre, 1973). Le Gac also made videos, 25e Message, (1995) and In Memoriam, (1999), in which he imagined his own wake. The work Histoire was made for a FRAC Centre commission in 1987, to recount the history of the dynasty of the kings who reigned over France, their cradle being in the Centre region. As a mixture of photography, text and mixed techniques, which are the artist’s favourite media, this triptych painting, called upon to celebrate the lofty deeds of great National History, did not, however, break with a preoccupation more dear to Jean Le Gac: that involving an intimate confusion between his oeuvre and his personal history. In the pastel at the top, incidentally, are the words: “The painter found his own history in his images, which, in his youth, had awoken him to Art”. This artistic position and manner, constructed between image and narrative, upset established categories. Jean Le Gac contrasts the claimed truth of Art and History with the simulacrum of a private adventure, both experienced and dreamed. The artist’s work is very regularly exhibited, mainly in France, but also in Germany and Japan.

Nadine Labedade