Anne Tronche in Antoine de Margerie – Editions du Regard – 2010

A blank canvas, a canvas waiting to be painted is the scene of a unique operation where thought is transformed into forms or perhaps images. Thus, it is not always easy to understand a painting, for painters, when they are not being theoretical or developing arguments regarding their work, often know very well how to hide the secret meaning of their choices and their ambitions. Whether the works present a commentary of the world that surrounds us or the organisation of the forms meets specific requirements or obeys particular pictorial rules, we realise that, in some cases, the artist seeks first and foremost the autonomy of the painting. A state very often achieved through work, imagination, but also through doubts. This explains the internal shifts in the visual language of a great number of creators, particularly during the XXth Century, when the question of the figurative and the abstract led some of them to opt to swing between these two extremes which were often guarded by puritanical sects. An oscillation which often courageously expressed temptations, renunciations and indeed complete breaks. From Herbin to Jackson Pollock, from Malevitch to Hélion we follow a trajectory which helps us understand the complex nature of the artistic language, and the divides some creators had to cross to bring their project to fruition.

Thus we can see in Antoine de Margerie’s paintings affinities which link him, according to the period and with equal relevance to artists who, through figuration, sought the path towards synthesis in a visual expression freed from all realist temptations or, on the contrary, to movements in which the artist’s work evolved towards rational geometric shapes. However, none of these links is really clear enough for us to understand the intensely creative journey of this discreet, relatively solitary artist. No doubt because in his painting, imbued with sensitivity, he essentially sought to achieve an artistic reality which depended neither on a fascination with an overly experimental vocabulary nor on a position giving concrete expression to theoretical dogma.

When we observe his compositions, whether they evoke a space which could seem familiar or whether they organise planes in an abstract logic, it occurs to us that, with the aid of his pigments and his canvas, Antoine de Margerie sought to deal with a highly phenomenological question, which can be expressed thus: “What is the seen?” Depending on the periods, this question became more radical, more decisive or, on the contrary, leads us to suppose that, on reflection its importance was put into perspective. As if contemplation were to lead ultimately to knowledge which could result in a work which was itself an enigma.

Antoine de Margerie became interested in art at a young age. Frequent contact with an uncle, Paul de Laboulaye, who was himself a painter, the presence of works by Bonnard in his family environment, besides developing his eye and his sensitivity, probably nurtured his imagination and played an active role in developing his vocation. The main reason for his higher education in literature, then courses leading to a diploma at the Ecole du Louvre, was to reassure a family circle worried about the risks of an artistic career. Without diminishing his desire to put his artistic leanings into practice his education led him, in particular, to think about the art of the past, to analyse the metaphorical power of forms in civilisations which are foreign to our artistic sensibility, made him understand that the way of the senses, that is to say art, is, in all ages the path of knowledge. At the Ecole du Louvre he met his future wife, Anne, who was to support him unwaveringly in his choices. His compositions during his education already reveal his interest in construction and his taste for colour tones which open the space beyond the subject.

Antoine de Margerie , Sensitive Horizons
Elisa Farran
Director and Curator of the Musée Estrine, Saint Rémy de Provence, France

“The main subject is the surface which color its laws , above the objects (…) We always speak of the tender to nature.
There is also the tender to the table” –
Pierre Bonnard – Agenda painter, February 8, 1939

Presenting the work of an artist is always a delicate exercise that requires time and “of the tender to the table” as written by Pierre Bonnard. The work of Antoine de Margerie is a subtle work, a deep richness and great complexity. Too briefly summarized in geometric abstraction, the painting is the answer to many questions on representation, secular questions as evidenced again as an example, the correspondence between Matisse and Bonnard- The first evokes the absolute necessity In Nature, the second that of the surface. Obviously Margerie chose that of the surface of the table but in an era obsessed with reality and its representation. His reaction to the margins and is probably involved in the isolate in these times, is there any need to recall it, if collectivist. Keep about declining a primer paint geometric shapes at first sight gives an impression of rigor and often inherited coldness of Gleizes, Malevich, Mondrian and other pioneers, but in the one as in the other cases the memory is wrong because it is not. The experience, as always, is to give time to painting to rise (according to the Goncourt Brothers), or in other words to leave him space for it to take its place and turns.

The painting of Antoine de Margerie is a rhythmic combination of geometric solids and tonal vibration. In several decades, his work has opened, introducing the ripple in the treatment of line and color to address in the final works of pure vibration. Often the adjectives used to describe it are attached to the textile vocabulary, such as weaving or texture. There is indeed something of the order of the mesh in what unites the line color in the surface of the canvas. In this, his work recalls the drawings of Georges Seurat; we find the same density of textures. The paper weight Ingres, used in reverse, so grossly swollen, Seurat allowed to obtain material while vibration in white and black. A material which is found by a formal decomposition of the color spectrum in large paints. Margerie, in addition to back this idea of texture in motion, also applies the effects of another technique, pastel, acrylic paint so little known for its modal flexibility. The latest paintings, in turn, are reminiscent of Pierre Bonnard, who keeps Margerie evanescence, flexibility of materials, subtle colors and openness to other sensitive horizons. From this perspective, research in recent years are part of the filiation of Impressionist painters who sought to make the movement of light and have certainly opened the channels of an addition to the confines of figurative reality, somewhere the surface of the table …