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BERNARD ALLIGAND. LOOKING BACK: 30 years of painting

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

What drives painters, whoever they are, to take a look back at their work at one point or another in their creative activity? The need to take stock, to measure the progress made? However, this cannot be done in their studio, a permanent laboratory for creation and experimentation, nor in galleries that are often too small to accommodate a large group and, moreover, subject to commercial imperatives which require always presenting recent works. . Only cultural, historical or contemporary places: museums, castles, abbeys, convents,

Houses of Culture etc…, with their large volumes, their walls with vast dimensions, with multiple and varied surfaces offer this possibility. An opportunity for the artist and the viewer in all respects to take a step back. A pause may be necessary for the painter, to judge himself over a long period, before continuing his progress. This is why, this year, to celebrate his 30 years of painting, Bernard Alligand has chosen Aubenas castle, which he knows well and where he has already been a guest five times.

The 2011 exhibition, unlike the previous ones, is a retrospective in two places that deliberately separate paintings and engravings. From works judiciously selected by the artist, because for him representative of the various stages of his evolution, it is presented as an initiatory journey in 30 stations through his painted and engraved work. Two technically different means of expression and in counterpoint to each other which however follow, despite interference, parallel paths, but both at the service of the same questioning, both the fruit of the same creative journey with its sequences and sometimes its breaks, each keeping its specificity.

It is the return to engraving, in 1988, which, to temper the sumptuous impulses of the material, will encourage him to return to composition, but this time, in an abstract way, by resorting to geometry. , constructive necessity and founding principle of unity, of the rhythmic balance and of the harmony of the painting as well as of the engraving in which added elements will also enter: the cut and glued papers which will be integrated not only into the composition but also to chromatic values. With this mixed technique that he will continue to use from now on, the personal art of Bernard Alligand was born.

If today he is qualified, according to critics, as a non-figurative, informal or materialist painter, Bernard Alligand had, like most of his elders and his contemporaries, a figurative departure which anchored him throughout both in painting and in reality, during his training period in Angers during which he was also introduced to engraving and modeling. But, not wanting to be locked in by one genre: landscape painting and anxious to transport his creation to new territories, he left Angers for the Mediterranean light. There, to gradually detach himself from the representative grid of reality and undoubtedly influenced by Volti, he devotes himself to the study of the nude with reduced specific means: red chalk and watercolor, in a deliberately limited range of tones: red, ocher, blue, green to which he wants to give breathing and modulation. Its elliptical design, reduced to a few essential lines of the female body, escapes from the model and its realistic representation. This period, which can be considered as an experimental phase, however, allows him to definitively free himself from the grip of figuration.

 This period, which can be considered as an experimental phase, however, allows him to definitively free himself from the grip of figuration.

Then began for him a new adventure based on the investigation of pictorial material. Undo to rebuild. All his previous works will be destroyed, that is to say torn, cut up and then assembled according to formal rules that he sets for himself in order to rediscover, in a very personal way, the independence of the laws of composition. A transitory stage of questions which fortunately will not keep him in a systematic work for long because the discovery of the prehistoric caves of Dordogne will bring him the revelation of the role of matter, which will henceforth nourish all his work, in any form whatsoever. With her, Bernard Alligand will now trace the paths of his painting. Dense or loose, peaceful or unleashed, aggressive or voluptuous but always in a new and surprising chromatic richness which gives his works a cosmic dimension, Bernard Alligand will express all the lyricism and all the expressive power in small formats as in large canvases.

For Bernard Alligand, in fact, aesthetic emotion encompasses and mobilizes all our sensations simultaneously.

It is the return to engraving, in 1988, which, to temper the sumptuous impulses of the material, will encourage him to return to composition, but this time, in an abstract way, by resorting to geometry. , constructive necessity and founding principle of unity, of the rhythmic balance and of the harmony of the painting as well as of the engraving in which added elements will also enter: the cut and glued papers which will be integrated not only into the composition but also to chromatic values. With this mixed technique that he will continue to use from now on, the personal art of Bernard Alligand was born.

These inclusions will then become a constant in his work where, according to dominant themes, they will be replaced by fragments of scores or manuscripts, constituting a system of signs capable of producing a sound environment, that of music and speech, a medium. that he wants to insert in the visual space in order to make perceive all the correspondences which exist between these different modes of expression. For Bernard Alligand, in fact, aesthetic emotion encompasses and mobilizes all our sensations simultaneously. At the same time, emerges and emerges, in filigree, in the thickness of the material, an omnipresent white female silhouette, emerging from the cosmos like an apparition, and sometimes even that of a couple in a jubilation. colored linked to all the stormy changes of light of celestial or terrestrial places. This human presence also means that we are beings in physical and sensitive relationship with all the forces of the universe.

It is especially in the years 1995 to 2005 that the paintings of Bernard Alligand will evoke ambiguous, ambivalent spaces which are just as much references to an external reality as the expression of his interior universe, his dreams, his dreams, of his expectations, his desires. Not to produce images but to bring out, translate and express the incessant mixing that takes place in the unconscious and in the imaginary.

It is especially in the years 1995 to 2005 that the paintings of Bernard Alligand will evoke ambiguous, ambivalent spaces which are just as much references to an external reality as the expression of his interior universe, his dreams, his dreams, of his expectations, his desires. Not to produce images but to bring out, translate and express the incessant mixing that takes place in the unconscious and in the imaginary. All the works of this decade are crossed by vast air currents where the matter, in permanent activity, is subjected to internal pulsations and to external movements which triturate, knead, exalt it until it exults. in luminous foci in an environment which is that of the original chaos. In Bernard Alligand's presence in the world is always accompanied by the vision of a universe called to be, in perpetual metamorphosis.

From his travels in Egypt, in Morocco, in Iceland Bernard Alligand brought back raw materials which he incorporates in his works, materials which, sometimes even, will be object and subject of a new creation, as in the "Impressions d'Egypte », On the margin or at the edge of his painting. In Morocco, what fascinated him above all were the decorations whose motifs can be found in the form of arabesques, both in his engravings and in his paintings. Iceland, land of ice and fire, will have modified its palette where deep reds and blacks tear in magmatic violence.

In Morocco, what fascinated him above all were the decorations whose motifs can be found in the form of arabesques, both in his engravings and in his paintings.

In his latest works, forms of figurative appearance - vases and flasks - burst into a tumultuous spatial universe as if these objects with voluptuous, sensual contours had been conceived and shaped within this whirlpool by an invisible hand that would have them. endowed with a magical content: an elixir capable of giving the intoxication of the world, which seems to have taken hold of all the paintings of Bernard Alligand. But whatever these "borrowings" from places where he has stayed and whom he loves or from civilizations he revere, what dominates in Bernard Alligand's work are the strength of the rhythms, the dynamism of shapes and the colorful effervescence that animate all of his creation, as if a vital breath, a primordial energy constantly traversed each of his works, in a dream of light.


Jean-Pierre Geay is a French writer, poet and art critic, born 20/11/1941 in Bruailles in Saône-et-Loire. Associate professor of modern letters, he taught at Privas then at Aubenas until 2002. "Poet of light and ephemeral", landscapes of the Alpilles and Ardèche, nourished by the influence of Pierre Reverdy and from the proximity of René Char, his poetic writing also expresses a critical look at painting, according to his encounters with artists.
Jean-Pierre Geay et Bernard Alligand

Jean-Pierre Geay. Août 2011

Jean-Pierre Geay is a French writer, poet and art critic, born 20/11/1941 in Bruailles in Saône-et-Loire. Associate professor of modern letters, he taught at Privas then at Aubenas until 2002. "Poet of light and ephemeral", landscapes of the Alpilles and Ardèche, nourished by the influence of Pierre Reverdy and from the proximity of René Char, his poetic writing also expresses a critical look at painting, according to his encounters with artists. Author of critical works or exhibition catalogs on his friends Henri Goetz, Yves Mairot and Bernard Alligand, he has also collaborated with around forty plastic surgeons.

Knight of the National Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, Officer of Academic Palms, Member of the Académie des Sciences, Lettres et Arts de l'Ardèche.


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