Yves de Vresse - "The essence of painting",
in Brussel deze week, october 2008

The essence of painting

Exhibition Portraits Réfléchis, Association du Patrimoine Artistique, Brussels, 2008

Well, well, well! It doesn‘t happen that often that an installation artist turns her back on conceptual art in order to concentrate on painting. In fairness it should be observed that in the case of Françoise Vigot, there is a whole train of thought, a concept, underlying her painting.

A few years ago, the French artist decided to choose two plastic toys as a subject. The two little figures became the object of a painstaking investigation into colour and light. After a number of works that had at their heart the two little dolls in relation to each other, Vigot limited herself to painting the heads alone.

The aspect of the reflection - in both senses - is primordial in this work. The not particularly shiny plastic surface of the toys reflects, in a constantly changing manner, the daylight in which Françoise Vigot (born in 1970) works. This obliges her to penetrate, with the utmost concentration, into the depths of the object in order to arrive at a pictorally interesting result that could be described as tending towards abstraction, if we didn‘t know better. A knowing reference to the mirror in Van Eyck‘s Arnolfini Portrait is not far away.
The other form of reflextion is the permanent search for the why an how of painting itself. The works painted in oils have been produced al fresca, with the thin layers of paint being painted over before they dry. This involves adding paint - but sometimes takes it away. The effects of light created in this way are particularly beautiful. The monochrome blue or grey works exist in two different formats. The way in wich the paint is applied to a canvas measuring 50 centimetres by 50 is, of course, fundamentally different from that in a similar work where each side measures one and a half metres. The gestualité is fundamentally different.

The series of canvasses in this exhibition are on show for the first time. It is fascinating to see an artist, from a conceptual starting point, returning to the essence of the art of painting, that is to say : how do I apply paint to a surface in a way that will fascinate the viewer? It sounds simple, but is in fact incredibly difficult.