Berlin, Berlin-Brandeburg, Germany
About Michel Carmantrand
Born in Aix-en-Provence, France, 1958. My father passed away on 9 September 2016. This is an interesting experience, quite heavy, which lasts and gradually takes different meanings for me. Among others, that the years are counted up and that it is no time to waste on imperfectly focused images. Some humorous aspects of my work on paper are just there to ease the perception of images. Because images, in their attempt to stop the flow of time, are therefore the best guarantee of our end. The feeling of loss is not a bad thing, it allows not to loose yourself in the byways, in order to be concentrated on what is important, isn't it so? For the occasion of my thirteen years, considering my interest in painting and my practice of drawing, my grandmother gave me a palette of Paul Cézanne, which came in a curious way in the family. While she was working in the rectorship in Aix-en-Provence, a writer named Marcel Provence, related to the family of the painter, would have ask, through a colleague of her, if she could welcome in his property a lady who had long worked in the house of the painter, as woman of service, and found herself, at the death of Cézanne, unemployed and without home. A few years later, this lady has died of uremia, having no family, and as no one came to ask what she left behind, some old objects have been kept by my grandmother, including this palette and a small table of wood, soiled of oil colors. This palette, still in my possession, and the enormous example of Aix's painter, was probably not for nothing in my wish to become a painter. I've been touched by Malevich, Matisse, Bonnard, Rembrandt, Goya, Giotto, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Polke... And the American abstraction was certainly important for my development, with Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt Robert Smithson, Tony Smith, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, Frank Stella, Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, Robert Motherwell, Robert Ryman, Tony Smith, Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Brice Marden ... After three years of figurative painting which I recently destroyed the last witnesses, alas, because of a lack of space, I oriented myself towards abstraction. Not by decision or choice, but because the brush marks on the canvas showed me clearly the possibility of a huge space, which needed no model to achieve itself. After ten years in Nice, I moved to Paris. I worked in that way (a formal reduced way) till a big series of monochromes made with only one geste, consisting in pouring around five liters of fluid colour on the center of a canvas which was stretched over a wooden panel placed on a stool. The colour covered by a once the entire surface. This process resulted from some critical I made to Jackson Pollock: why continue to draw, after his discovery of the pouring? That was in the years 1996-2002. Then I became interested in the support too (my last series of monochrome was already white on white), that is to say in the canvas itself, by painting, folding, leaving it dry, grubbing colors and preparation layer of the fabric, and restarting from the beginning till I got a result that suited me (2002-2008). In a way, I destroyed by this method of fragmentation and aggression, all the assumptions of the previous method. In April 2007, getting no success or any attention in Paris with these works, I moved to Berlin where I collaborated successively with two galleries and found opportunities to exhibit regularly and to organize, as a curator, group exhibitions. Since 2014 I'm studying from various angles and using different approaches how the eyes and tongue coexist absolutely, how language and painting combine themselves to produce "images". This research drove me to hypothesize that the colors do not exist (outside of symbolic relationships) and that two eyes deprived of words would not be more able to distinguish (to see) a painting than if one had been plunged into darkness. I'm working on it.
I went to school in different countries and continents because my father was a career soldier. Mainly Africa and Polynesia.
After my degree, I had to choose between the School of Fine Arts in Aix-en-Provence and the School of Decorative Arts in Nice (now "Villa Arson").
I chose Nice where I knew no one, because being born in Aix-en-Provence and as my grandmother was still living there, I wanted to have a little while out of the family.
Five years later, allegedly for political reasons that today seem to me very smoky, I refused to submit the diploma and was involved in the creation of a big documentary photography center founded by one of my teachers. This center had eight members and found his model on the well known Farm Security Administration.
It's only a little later that I really started painting. And as I was quite isolated at the time, it took me about ten years to find my way... That is to say, to find out in the painting and in myself which would allow me not to stop to paint.
I organized a group exhibition, ECHOES, in June 2016 at the Art Center Bethanien in Berlin.
With Isabelle Dyckerhoff (www.isabelledyckerhoff.de), James Geccelli (www.james-geccelli.de), Laurence Grave (www.laurencegrave.blogspot.com), Wolfgang Schröder (www.wolfgang-schroeder.net), Stefan Schröter ( www.stefanschroeter.blogspot.com) and me.
The project enhanced the ability of painting to reflect time, for the echoes it will generate between periods of work of each of the artists, between the works of these artists themselves, and between the exhibition and the outside: society, history, duration.
There were shown 30 paintings, mostly large formats.
Have a look on:
- ECHOES, group show, as artist and curator, Projektraum Bethanien, Berlin
- Doppelte Bewegung, group show curated by James Geccelli, Schaufenster, Berlin
- Private insight (papers), Stefan Schröter studio, Berlin
- Blind Date, group show, Alabama, Sir gallery, Leipzig
- meta2, Leichtheit der Flächen, as artist and curator, Zweigstelle gallery, Berlin
- Present, group show organised by Michaela Zimmer, Projektraum Bethanien, Berlin
- An-Sammlung Campoi, group show curated by Frank Campoi, Pilot Projekt space, Düsseldorf
- Viktor expanded, group show, as artist and curator, Evelyn Drewes gallery, Hamburg
- 2+2=1, group show, as artist and curator, Stefan Schröter studio, Berlin
- Out of Berlin, group show curated by Isabelle Dyckerhoff, Domagk halle50, Munich
- Anonyme Zeichner, group show (drawings), art association Tiergarten, Nord gallery, Berlin
- Viktor, group show, as artist and curator, Zweigstelle gallery, Berlin
- Anatomie eines Stückes, drawings as installation, Stefan Schröter studio, Berlin
- Zickzack, solo exhibition, Zweigstelle gallery, Berlin
- mail3 art, group show, art space t27, Berlin
- Die Schnecke, solo exhibition, Zweigstelle gallery, Berlin
- Sternklar, as curator, Zweigstelle gallery, Berlin
- « Cut », group show curated by Laurence Grave, Gerald Vincenz studio, Berlin
- Remix 9, group show, Galerie im Regierungsviertel, Berlin
- étrangé, with David Rhodes, Forgotten Bar, Berlin
- Berliner Auswahl, group show, Nihi nisi gallery, Berlin
- Wennichdieseesehebraucheichkeinmeermehr, with Laurence Grave, 48 Stunden Neukölln, Berlin
- Quiet Outbreaks, solo exhibition at Mercedes-Benz Salzufer, Berlin
- Mouvoir, with Michaela Zimmer, art space t27, Berlin
- Nacht und Nebel, group show, Michaela Helfrich gallery, Berlin.
- Die unregelmäßige Ordnung, with Laurence Grave, Saalbau Neukölln gallery, Berlin
- Twozerozeroeight, solo exhibition, Berlin Art Scouts gallery, Berlin
- Michel Carmantrand 2007-2008, solo exhibition, Boulevard és Brezsnyev gallery, Budapest, Hungary