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With carved woods
At the feet of the important figures who play the main roles in the works of the great ancients, the masters of wood engraving, there is often a whole small world drawn with an alert pen - we hear it squealing - or with the tip of the nose. brush - we see it bending and bouncing - with a withdrawn, playful, almost casual gesture: three tufts of grass, pebbles, a flower, a few twigs, where otherwise there would be nothing. They are, miraculously, engraved in the wood very faithfully to the gesture which made them appear, with the same assurance, without losing any of the lightness of the outline.
This is where my gaze goes first, as when we let ourselves be absorbed by the thousand and one things that adorn the roadsides: tiny mushrooms on an old stump, snail shell, feather fallen to the ground, stones that shine at the bottom of a small stream. There are also, behind the characters, distant landscapes, rocks with improbable shapes, and also trees, gigantic trees with all kinds of details which are all providers, for the eye, of a gourmet pleasure to detect. the slightest occurrence.
The trees are like writings, round and supple for some, nervous and tight for others; with a grammar too, for each species, which gives us its intelligence and feeling. There is a challenge for the pen, the brush or the pen, to translate them on the paper, then, for the gouge, the nail and the knife, not to betray them.
It is the openings towards the sky that reveal the principle, rather than the trunk, the branches or the leaves themselves. Wood engraving leads to this observation even better than painting or photography because the space between things is the very material that we work to make them exist.
The gaze embraces the whole, grasps it in parts, assembles them according to the mood and the need, which we will scrupulously try to inscribe in the wood itself, without too many illusions of achieving it, but in the heart without doubt the hope of conceiving a version of it which brings equal happiness.
As when a jazzband seizes a melody and metamorphoses it.
Engraving gives the power to decompose and recompose the world at will. You can take turns undressing it, then adorning it with the most extravagant fabrics: reducing it to its simplest expression, black and white, the rhythm section, before the color plates intervene, the soloists' improvisations. Unless it's the other way around.
What some people experience in the presence of music, or the ocean, an irresistible attraction to this balm, this elixir, this spiritual wine, this last resort when everything is bad, can also be found at the corner of a wood, at the bend of a field, at the foot of a hill.
This is where I am most often brought to draw. Nightfall seems to me to lend itself better than the day when everything is so bright. Plunge the gaze into the darkness: it seems made for that. The sum of what one guesses there undoes the vain distinction between what is real and what is not. Bathing there exalts the eye better than full noon and reveals its unsuspected resources. The beings who inhabit the dark-obscure are of the kind that one sees in the clouds, the wood, the stone or the stain of humidity on the wall. They are our auxiliaries, our imaginary friends, born of our mind and projected onto the screen of the phenomenal world. In the blink of an eye they are there, transform or disappear, amiable or terrifying depending on the mental constellation of the moment. They have been operating from our inner worlds towards the surface of things for millennia, beckoning us, challenging us, accompanying us. Their capture in Indian ink is considered a source of felicity. Engraving them in wood and printing them are all the more so, as if giving them substance in this way was what they expected of us. At other times, the power and grace, the splendor and the mystery of the tree are found at night as in majesty, when nothing distracts you from it, and conducive to the exclusive and silent dialogue with it, which gives me, to me, a kind of legitimacy to the action of drawing it, engraving it, printing it. When the day breaks, there will always be time to measure all its vanity, without any shame.
These engravings are not illustrations of ideas, nor of stories, nor of comments on the world. If they said something it would be rather: Look. Watch for a long time, don't rush to think about it, just watch. Much like listening to music intently, the flow of thoughts slows down and hearing takes precedence over all other considerations.
Engravers, we are creating a kingdom for ourselves. In the few square centimeters of the board, we shave mountains, erect dams, flood deserts, until only the drawing emerges on the surface of the wood. All that remains is to provide him with just the ink necessary for his reproduction so that he can go and live his life on the walls of houses or in the pages of a book.
In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.
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