René Vidal, A Bruit Secret.

« These are notes of mountains thrown away from one echo to another so as to resound from one side of a torrent, to the side opposite. »

            From time to time, René Vidal goes up to the sky. He looks at the world from a perspective and hoovers on the summits with his head in the clouds, so as to catch “notes coming from the mountains thrown from one echo to another.”
Later on, long after, when the drunkenness and the intoxication of heights have forsaken him, when routine has recovered its rights and when memories are about to be forgotten, he goes again looking for wasted time.
Then at the border of consciouness and unconsciouness he follows, close behind, the still fresh prints of memory, using solely his notes which he has patiently gathered like white stones meant to help him find his way back. Thus, he lets himself glide down between the vertiginous rock faces of his workshop.

            In order not to break the spell, René made sure to collect in the right spots, blades of grass, bits of roots, downs of birds, barks of trees : priceless materials meticulously chosen for their evocative power, those materials taken from the mountain like the fire of Olympia robbed by Prometheus. This gesture of appropriation, worthy of a doctor Faust who would puncture blood and sap to insuflate life and eternal youth to memories, is only destined to bring down some smell and flavour of the summits to invigorate the world of below. But you need to remember his impressions of mountains which are fugitive by definition. Then René fabricates shrines or reliquaries likely to ressucitate the memory of “grace”. But above their happy seduction, those kinds of weather vanes keep an impression of the sacred. It’s probably because they evoke those trophies offered to antique divinities by victorious warriors, or those ex-votos and oratories, which we’ll find again, lator on, in pilgrim’s places. René Vidal is this pilgrim of the mountain sites who creates all sorts of fetishes destined to exorcize the fears and the spells which the fascination of highs summits operate on him.
         René recreates the mountain his own way. He puts his sorrows and his happy moment and his dreams in it. He adds his own history. The fruit of analogy, impregnation, reverberation or transmutation, his “chameleon-work” may seem impenetrable because it refers to a personnal but also familiar mythology because it’s based on a universal culture. Open to the four winds, to any situtation, any meeting and any filiation which it absorbs like a sponge, it’s able to assimilate and to instill them according to a really personal esthetics.
         Beyond it smooth, feminine and jagged silhouette, each sculpture is to be discovered bit by bit with an upward movement which reminds us of rock climbing. All this results in a hybrid thing of a rather baroque poetry for whom nature and artifice, affect and intellect wage an internecine war. Some rough elements, austere and monolitic like rocky pics are opposed to more complex and labyrinthine and whose preferance is to follow the meanders of thought. This exercice of balance of forces is accomplished in a graphic composition. With the boldness and the precision of a rope dancer who defies the laws of gravity, René Vidal ventures at the edge of precipices, solely to challenge Nature. Thus, thanks to stems and plumblines which he uses as crutches, he throws into space the line of ridges which stand out against the sky.
         For other horizontal compositions which unfold like the pannels of an altarpiece or which can be opened like Marcel Duchamp’s suitcase, René partitions his bags of tricks. As a perfect enthomologist, he classifies his emotions, splits them up, places them into drawers as if they were family secrets. But he always inserts the corpus delicti : the witness-stone which he brought back from each of his trips, the reductio ad absurdum which gives substance to his dreams and arround which everything gravitates, a bit like a philosopher’s stone which changes into gold everything that lies around it.
         As Joseph Beuys advocated it “Man must again be in contact with the things beyond him, animals, plants and nature and those above him, angels and spirits.” Links between the inaccessibility of everlasting snows and the prosaïsm of dry lands, René Vidal’s arrangements travel in a poetic space which isn’t cut off from the realities of life, hence from art. They often bounce because of words associations, ideas or images, reinterpreting Gaudi’s polychromatic ceramics, Louise Nevelson’s painted woods, Joseph Cornell’s “shadow boxes”, Ansabere’s “demoiselles-picassiennes”. From a less litteral point of view, it’s the Nouveau realiste “paste” which can be found in this bric-a-brac, made of accumulation and of salvage materials, with on top of that the use of second-hand coffee-filters, astonishing magic philters which Arman wouldn’t disown. Or, it’s Niki de Saint Phalle’s delirious and dancing esthetics which can be found in these happy sculptures which manage to make their artlessness infectious. Then, this way of “creating art while walking” and this principle of “light intervention” on nature remind us of Richard Long who declared : “mountains and galleries are extreme and neutral, each in its own way, and in the same way; they’re good places to work in.”
         But beyond concept, René Vidal’s task offers above all the work of a visual artist who give a meaning to matter. A lover of wood, which clogs are made of, of varied materials whose secret resources he exploits, of the “beau metier”, he works first as a sculptor to give mountains the colours of life.

            In 1916, Marcel Duchamp offered a work designed like a riddle. It was composed of a ball of string in which  he had placed an object he alone knew of, a sort of charm which moved when it was shaken. The object was called “A bruit secret”. René Vidal’s sculptures are of the same kind and they ask in the same move, the ordinary, the sublime, the intimate, the universal, the daily and mystery.

 Dominique DUSSOL

Traduit par Sylvie Lavergne.

français    occitan    basque