For a number of years now, Thomas Fougeirol has been using flat-surfaced materials dipped in paint and applied to usually large scale canvases, in order to effect some sort of contact, or imprint so to speak, that brings the work in contact with an actual substance. Originally using curtains, this body of work has progressed with bedsheets, even metallic gating. These objects have in common either volume or weave, plus varying degrees or relief, which enable the paint to establish an all over contact with the surface of the canvas.
“In 2008, I worked in that series I named CRASH CURTAINS, which attempted to define ornament. I would crumple these curtains, or else stretch them to the max before applying them to the canvas. These ugly, old curtains would then disappear, leaving only the trace of their ornamental patterns to reveal another, unexpected second life. Later, it is hospital bedsheets I Worked with. The resukts are sketches of an abstract, organic and explosive lunar geography.»
“The latest series, entirely in black, represents a breakthrough, an achievement. Now, only a few folds remain, bringing to mind the image of electro magnetic fields. To use the language of acoustics, I might say that I try to obtain what is called static in electronic music; in other words, music is no longer produced, only the static scratches heard in the recording. I have always sought to place myself somewhere between radiography, the photo negative, painting imprint. I’d like to be some kind of sensitive machine that would trump all expectations.»
Thomas Fougeirol is one of those artists constantly questioning the techniques they use, their meanings, their goals, all the while perfectly aware they shall never be any definite answer and that their work is meant to remain empirical.
He’s not an abstract painter using figuration but a figurative painter who is producing abstraction. His relation with the canvas is very physical and event violent in order to extract something else than one could expect for this medium.
Fougeirol endeavors to neutralize expressionism by making abstraction of the hand. Instead paradoxically, his body is found there. How? Simply because, placing these objects in contact with the surfaces to be painted, he has to use his own body strength to press and apply the material to the canvas. Notice, however, that while he unwittingly transposes thus himself onto his canvas, he does so without revealing the slightest hint of his presence, leaving enough distance for the viewer to project himself entirely into the work, building in so doing a two-fold illusion: he is present in the painting, while giving at the same time the impression that he is not. This way, he avoids the cliche «You must love me, since I am this work» and prevents us from simply acknowledging virtuosity. It is not that he holds anything against skill, but he feels strongly that the hand wielding a paintbrush tends to create forms hampered by formalized, time-honored codes, codes which have become law, resulting in obvious and literal painting. I order to attain his goals, Thomas Fougeirol deconstructs basic techniques and creates a new language.
Excerpt from the interview with Alain Berland, Particules, N°27, January-March 2010