2002 - Paul Lombard (French lawyer and writer)
Are we entitled to write about painting ? Few authors have risen to the challenge of completing the brush-stroke with the written word, since the brush-stroke can do without the embellishment of words.
Baudelaire and Apollinaire are almost alone in this respect : they knew how to lend a painting the sanction of their words, the dream-like weight of their sensibility.
The Cubists would not have become what they are if it had not been for the author of the Flâneur des deux rives. They would not have succeeded in taking the word apart, in scaling the backbone of a reconstituted universe.
Grataloup, a painter of anti-matter or of a matter which has been tamed, does not need to cosseted in well-intentioned prefaces, including ones that seek to vindicate the deliberate semi-obscurity in which he has carried out his artistic project. This project is one of the most original in recent years, and one which leaves no room for complacency. Is Grataloup the Sandman a scluptor who paints, or a painter who sclupts ? This matters little : he is the artist and craftsman of a kind of geometry in which rigour meets reverie.
Anyone who has not seen Grataloup's workshop can have only faint idea of this artist's solitude : a form of solitude transcended by obstinate severity and lyricism.
Grataloup is not concerned wich schools, with movements, or even with movement. He shows us the absoluteness of a desert-a desert, however, from which life is never absent. Meeting him has helped me to take in the full extent-should such a realization still be necessary-of how obsolete the disctinction is between figuration and abstraction.
Grataloup is not an abstract artist because man is never absent from his work : yet, this does not make his work figurative. His sketchy, broken human figures are there to confess to their powerlessness to change around the course of the absolute. At the same time, they testify to the superiority of live matter over ash. They disturb.
To disturb : such is the artist's main calling, his curse and his blessing. Against the current din of false prophecy, Grataloup excels at being discretely provocative.
It is difficult to classify Grataloup or find artists to compare him with. Besides, why should he be compared to anyone ? Comparison diminishes the stature of the creator ; originality magnifies it. Grataloup casts us over the froth or red and blue waves, plunges us into the deepths of green and black crevices, leads us astray through the strange lianas of unsettling forests. He fills his world with all colours of the rainbow, he caresses that world and pierces it with lines that come from infinity.
Grataloup may not be the first artist to introduce foreign objects into his compositions, but he excels in using mirrors to obtain reflections and sparkling effects from their shattered slivers.
He would be pointless to place some of Grataloup's paintings above others. His work forms an indivisible whole in which works executed in large format, at which he excels, complement each other to produce a totality that is constantly under renewal. His painting forces us to return to matter which it attempts to master, flying in the face of reason.
Matter in all its opaqueness, bloated with the sap of life, is subjected to a humble but obstinate process that leads to beauty, a vast domain where silence reigns.