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RETROSPECTIVE ALLIGAND. Grand Théâtre & Médiathèque Toussaint, Angers

Updated: Dec 18, 2023


RETROSPECTIVE ALLIGAND.

INFINITE SHARDS. Quivering edges.

In the creative flow of any artist, there are key works, key works. They are not necessarily the best known, the most famous or the most daring, nor the most strongly marked by a style, because they do not ostensibly display their novelty. But they are very often the most significant because they constitute milestones, benchmarks and they are located at a turning point, at a crossroads and because they contain, in germ, all the clues of future development. As I write this, I think of this or that painting by Monet, Van Gogh, Braque, Bonnard, Matisse, Magnelli, but also Delaunay, Deyrolle or Nicolas de Staël. Intermediate or mediating works in a way, all still impregnated with what happened before, where they came from, but already carrying an emancipation, a leap forward, without the painter necessarily having fully awareness of the paths they opened. What only the hindsight of time now allows us to judge. But they are indicative of the internal transformations that take place chronologically within the very development of a work to ensure its constantly renewed continuity while preserving its unity.

This is the case with the work of Bernard Alligand which, over a continuum of thirty years, has evolved without sudden breaks, without abrupt changes of course or techniques, according to a linearity where the sequences are carried out in relation to each other according to a constant and rigorous regularity, in a happy and permanent integration, interference of external elements, technical innovations and subjective data. The work that we have chosen as a guide to begin this journey is Ficelles from 1985 because it constitutes a synthesis of previous research by Bernard Alligand and it lays the foundations on which the works to come will be based.

In 1985, Bernard Alligand was still at the beginning of his personal expression.

In 1985, Bernard Alligand was still at the beginning of his personal expression. That year, he had just broken definitively with any figurative representation, both as regards the “subject” of his works and the “way” of constructing the pictorial space, rejecting any “grid” or any “model”. and yet eager to find new rules likely to give a formal basis to his compositions without having to deliberately resort to the already agreed language of Abstraction, without giving free rein to improvisation or unbridled spontaneity, and without more give in to his natural penchant for the material he knows must domesticate. His major concern, in 1985, was to find a balance between rhythmic articulation and colored sequences, between constructive necessity and chromatic tension, between forms and textures.

His major concern, in 1985, was to find a balance between rhythmic articulation and colored sequences, between constructive necessity and chromatic tension, between forms and textures.

In this regard, Ficelles meets the objective that he has now set for himself. If we break down this table, we see that, to achieve his goal, Bernard Alligand simultaneously uses different techniques to make them coexist: first of all the linear drawing in black in the line, with its resumption in the form of parallels distributed to the interior of the composition, supported and reinforced by the printed lines of the newsprint, all arranged obliquely, in counterpoint to the color, in order to give dynamism to the composition echoing the disheveled writing (with blanks in reserve) of the colour ; paint with a brush or squeegee to streak and the collage enhanced with black. In this respect, Ficelles constitutes a synthesis of the technical processes already widely tested separately. From then on, all his works will be made with mixed techniques.

It should also be noted, in this regard, that, in order to free himself from the grip of figuration, Bernard Alligand had previously torn up all his old works, not by self-destruction intended to make them disappear, but to reuse the pieces in a other configuration. The “fragments” obtained during this phase of “destructuring” will then be used, by juxtaposing them and associating them, to construct, in complete autonomy, in complete freedom, new works, by “restructuring”.

In order to reunite and combine these disparate fragments, Bernard Alligand will use strings, an unusual and unusual material, to fix the frame of his compositions, thus affirming the total independence of their structure which, thus materialized, nevertheless remains abstract. It is with reference to this operation that this painting was given the title of Ficelles, thus recalling what was at the origin of its construction: elements linked by assembly where the lines are in no way arbitrary or conceptual. Take care. When we talk about abstraction in Bernard Alligand, it results and always stems from concrete manipulations. It only has a constitutive role and is for him neither a mode of expression nor a bias.

In Ficelles we can clearly see its strict organizational function: to stabilize the construction and stem the fiery impulses of color, thus letting a sense of what will be its major concern in 1988-1989: the return to a rigorous composition by a systematic recourse to geometry. A requirement that he discovered and imposed himself when he had to produce, in 1989, for Vision Nouvelle, engravings in the spirit of his paintings.

It is true that, since the Nudes of 1984-1985, he had hardly had the opportunity to express, in any way whatsoever, the slightest erotic feeling, busy as he had been from 1985 to 1992, to want to penetrate the mysteries of the material and to define, by a "reasoned geometrization" the foundations and the principles on which his work was to rest. In the year 2000, taking over from silhouettes, the bottles will have inherited, by transfer, all of their sensuality.
nude from behind

Regarding the use of color in Ficelles, it is also useful to recall that, a few years earlier, Bernard Alligand had engaged in methodical work in watercolor, while transparency, from of a reduced range of tones: blue, green, yellow, sepia and that at the beginning of the year 1985 he still devoted himself to studies of female nudes with blood.

We find this monochromatic technique in Ficelles where it gives lightness, flexibility and airy fluidity to the dominant color (blue highlighted by gray): a harbinger of a lyricism which here does nothing but begin, also foreshadowing the exploration to which he will engage in 1986 by going to seek, inside matter (in its abysmal depths which are also those of the unconscious) the buried existence of color. This he will translate in the works entitled Fragments, because cut from large canvases "Chosen pieces", of a larger work doomed to disappear after this selection. These pictures, grouped in series, constitute real "studies" on the phenomenology of color, "studies" in which pictorial writing very often invents itself, without preconceived ideas and without a priori.

It should be noted here that Bernard Alligand, in painting, as a few years later, in engraving, almost always works on sets. Unlike the painters who converge, who focus all their demands on a single work, it should be noted that Bernard Alligand proceeds and will always proceed in a serial fashion on a more or less large scale and according to the importance of the themes he approaches or which will impose themselves unconsciously on him. Repeated situations he needs to develop all facets of his vision, in the form of variations.

Finally, Ficelles includes lines, inlays, inclusions, collages: in particular newspaper to introduce signs into the painting. These exogenous elements not belonging, a priori, to the pictorial language, will enter its vocabulary and will henceforth be in various forms and formulas, constantly used by Bernard Alligand throughout his work. This technique already suggests the work that Bernard Alligand will engage in from 1989 in his large paintings by lines and a marouflage of painted canvas and glued paper to structure the layout. We must never forget that each work by Bernard Alligand is based on a drawn base, on an invisible or visible framework revealing, in his work, a deep, demanding sense of rhythmic composition.

Thus we find in Ficelles, all the constituents of the future pictorial discourse of Bernard Alligand. Escaping all classification, it is an inaugural work of the paths in which Bernard Alligand, without delay, will embark on.


Explore the material


If we look at paintings by Bernard Alligand, at any stage whatsoever in its development, we always find, in them, the presence of matter. We must therefore focus our questions on this essential material.

It was during 1987 that he felt the urgent need to work with matter. What do you mean ? Following a trip to the Dordogne during which he was able to visit prehistoric caves, and in particular that of Lascaux. The shock he received from it seemed to be indelible. Back at his studio in Vence, he immediately set to work to keep the impressions he had felt as quickly as possible. Without copying the parietal paintings which had made his admiration, he first sought to understand what had so captivated him: the traces of human activity on the rock and this osmosis through it, between geological time and human time. The two inseparably. He then felt that any work of art could also retain, in its timelessness, the memory of time, and that thanks to this, although historically dated, it reached the universal and always remained relevant. Didn't André Malraux point out the "abstract" character of cave art, leading in its wake so many other painters on their way to abstraction? Bernard Alligand then had the revelation that matter could become, in and of itself, the “subject” of the painting in its own right. And it is with this certainty that he sets out, first in painting, then in engraving, to conquer matter.

Henri Goetz
Henri Goetz

Without going into the details of the work Bernard Alligand carried out during the years 1989-1990, we will mainly retain those he carried out on the trinomial light / matter / color. Indeed, towards the end of the year 1988, partly thanks to the technique of carborundum engraving where he continued to improve himself with our mutual friend Henri Goetz, in order to progress in the knowledge that he considered essential to to acquire, and as an extension of the questioning that rock art had aroused in him, Bernard Alligand set out to solve the following problem: "How could matter, by absorbing color, enrich it with all kinds of nuances?"

He drew the conclusion that, in order to make the color expressive, it was enough to vary the conjunction matter / light.

Problem which obviously led to the fundamental role of light. It was therefore important, as a priority, to identify how the modulations of color were effected when light circulated inside the material, from the surface of the latter where it breaks up to the depth where it sinks. darkens. He drew the conclusion that, in order to make the color expressive, it was enough to vary the conjunction matter / light. He then made a distinction between "external light", that, aerial, which from the outside, illuminates matter, and "internal light" when it emanates from the sedimentary layers until it propagates. Between the two lie all kinds of subtle nuances when the material sometimes tempers, attenuates, softens the color, or sometimes on the contrary exalts it, exacerbates it, depending, of course, on the texture of the material. Properties specific to the material / color pair that Bernard Alligand will immediately apply in all his works. Let us also remember that he then contrived, in large canvases Matière 1989 covered with silkscreen white, to seek color in all the cracks, in all interstices, in all the reliefs of the material to bring it to light.


Lyrical exaltation and omnipresence of nature

Thus, the years 1992-1995 will be almost exclusively devoted to the enhancement of the expressive function of color and the eruptive explosion of the material / color couple, in the most intimate as well as the most extreme situations. It must be said that until 1989, Bernard Alligand had mainly engaged in formal exercises aimed at bringing out the complex relationships between the material and the color contained within it. His stay of a month and a half in Japan in 1990 provided him with the opportunity to immerse himself in a civilization where the art of printmaking had never ceased to represent the landscape governed by universal rhythms. This happy change of scenery allowed him to take a step back from the very restrictive and very focused research that he had carried out until then on the phenomenal couple material / color, without having yet been able to offer him the possibility of unfolding and taking full advantage. boom in large compositions. On his return from Japan, it will be done. His paintings which, until then, had only as light source that, interior, the depths of the material, will suddenly open to all the colored modulations of the material according to the variations of intensity of the natural light of the day. , half-day or night light.

 If the space which carries the earth is a whirling space prey to the elements, Bernard Alligand will not be satisfied only to evoke it by its irruption in the cosmos, it is also for him generator of sensory, auditory, olfactory perceptions according to the various aspects which it takes during the seasons Luminous Earth 1997.

Projected into space, the matter / color binomial will become the matter / color / light trinomial in which light energy will release matter from its darkness and the color from its underground life. After probing within and below, Bernard Alligand will propel the telluric universe into the cosmic universe. By escaping from the geology guardian of the memory of time, color, regaining its freedom, will explode the matter to catapult it into the celestial infinity, until forming with it nebulae, galaxies, Star seeds 2001, which transport us visually to the origin of the world, to the origin of the worlds.

In this universal chaos, the earth is not however forgotten, in front of which Bernard Alligand marvels, as already hinted at the paintings Terre de soleil 1992, Terre seeded 1996. If the space which carries the earth is a whirling space prey to the elements, Bernard Alligand will not be satisfied only to evoke it by its irruption in the cosmos, it is also for him generator of sensory, auditory, olfactory perceptions according to the various aspects which it takes during the seasons Luminous Earth 1997. He also communicates with her through an exchange of being that can range from contemplation to reverie. So much so that, when it comes to nature, we see that, with him, self-expression is inseparable from the expression of the world (and vice versa) through a landscape to which he always gives a universal dimension. sky 2003. However, let's not be fooled. Although the titles of his paintings refer to nature, he does not "represent" it. What he paints is the hold she has on his sensitivity, always interweaving perception and sensation. If the color, by its ranges of tones, signifies the outside world of Autumn 2006, it also expresses the vision, quite subjective, that Bernard Alligand has of it. This is the source of his lyricism in which nature is always omnipresent.


Timber structures

What are Timber Structures? These are paintings whose architectural framework and rhythmic framework are formed from a crate, hence their name. To fully understand them, it is necessary to situate these works in their context.

Living in Paris for over a year, in 1994, Bernard Alligand could only have a cramped studio in the small apartment he occupied rue Lamarck. In 1992, the very year of the economic crisis that had completely shaken and then paralyzed the art market, his contract with Vision Nouvelle ended, which had provided him with regular income since 1989. In 1993, however, galleries that survived the crisis were still reluctant to take financial risks and invest in new projects. The cutters, themselves in difficulty, not only no longer received orders but were sometimes forced to lay off workers. Having to temporarily give up engraving and painting large paintings, Bernard Alligand was looking for new media to express himself.


He then had the idea of ​​using the crates he used to shop with and which reminded him of his childhood when he filled them with fruits and vegetables. He thought they might give him the opportunity to do further research. Memory of our time, didn't they also have a sociological dimension? With this new medium, his painting acquired a social significance. Objective that henceforth he will assign to a whole part of his work. Much more than a support, the crates took on a symbolic value in his mind. Thus were born the Structures-bois.

Once its sides have been removed, the crate looks like a squared bottom that can be easily reduced, by additions, to a flat surface. Its materiality gives it a double function: that of support and that of structure. Bernard Alligand needed no more than this possibility of confusing support and structure suddenly fascinated. And he suddenly saw all the advantage he could draw from it as to the architecture of the work in which the relationships between the planes and the volumes were presented, not in the form of abstract lines or borders, but in a concrete way in a space, no longer imagined, but very real. In order to make paintings of them, it was enough for him to repeat the approach he had imposed on himself with his works of the past: "to deconstruct in order to reconstruct", without causing the crate to lose its identity.

This is why, for Bernard Alligand, his Structures-bois are indeed paintings. Indeed, designed according to the same principles as the tables, the Structures-bois present the same characteristics as these: the surface / depth relationship, the material / color dialectic, the ratio of chromatic values, all within a spatial organization punctuated by forms, represented here by the timber frame.
artist book - Structure bois

His first operation therefore consisted in arranging and gluing, on the background, using markers, the side parts previously removed: a work of composition. But unlike the painting, constrained by the rigidity of its limits, in the case of the crate, these became random and could take various forms. Bernard Alligand then only had to consider this partly openwork surface as that of a canvas and to apply the same treatment to it: deposits of material, inlays of canvas or paper, all mounted and painted. . This is why, for Bernard Alligand, his Structures-bois are indeed paintings. Indeed, designed according to the same principles as the tables, the Structures-bois present the same characteristics as these: the surface / depth relationship, the material / color dialectic, the ratio of chromatic values, all within a spatial organization punctuated by forms, represented here by the timber frame.


Two related themes: silhouettes and music


It is at the end of 1993 with Scintillantes Silhouettes that the theme of silhouettes appears for the first time, which Bernard Alligand will decline in various ways until 2000. In the paintings of the years 1994-1995, a single silhouette dominates first, a simple phenomenon of crystallization of matter within a cosmic tumult. But on closer inspection, little by little the shape which emerges in this vertiginous whirlwind is that of a human body which imposes its presence in all circumstances and at all times of day and night, as in Glaise d ' stars 1997.

 This solitary, vertical, slender, slender, white and skinny silhouette looks like a ghost in the midst of the raging elements or in the nocturnal activity of a stormy sky.

This solitary, vertical, slender, slender, white and skinny silhouette looks like a ghost in the midst of the raging elements or in the nocturnal activity of a stormy sky. It would readily be a dream or an apparition if it were not made of the same molten material as that which surrounds it. In this it seems to belong to a universe in formation which seems to have shaped it according to its turbulence, suddenly emerging from a cloud, a tornado, a hurricane, a storm, the time of a lightning, both real and supernatural, a mixture of stardust and incandescent magma surreptitiously projected into the 1997 Lunar Mist, to the point of wondering, upon seeing it, if we were not the victims of a vision, of a hallucination, abused by our senses, our desire or our imagination. Modern version of the "Birth of Venus" without its metaphorical accessories and its mythological references, draped only in its nudity with its still unfinished, blurry and indistinct outlines which make it take for a miracle of nature and leave doubt on its real existence . Mystery before which Bernard Alligand takes care to keep us in suspense.

But over the tables, the morphology of this aerial nymph will become clearer. From supple and fluid silhouette, she will become a feminine form that Bernard Alligand even elevated to the rank of goddess, Diane 1997, by accentuating her secondary sexual attributes: chest and hips, a bit like Cézanne's “Large Bathers” with which she has, moreover, ties of kinship, if only by its presence in the world and by its place as a living being in the space of the landscape. But how did this transformation come about?

Before answering this question, it should be noted that in 1995, Bernard Alligand simultaneously and simultaneously tackled another theme: that of music. This theme will evolve in tandem with that of the silhouettes and some of them will even sometimes be part of an environmental context containing fragments of musical staves in order to suggest that the universe in which they are found is not a silent universe but a sound environment Places feminines 1995. However, it is at the junction of these two themes that the female silhouette will change, will be refined until it becomes an erotic symbol. According to Bernard Alligand, this cryptic form suddenly took shape by affirming its femininity by formal analogy with the violin: a transitional object on which all of his fantasies would have suddenly crystallized. As soon as this mutation is completed, another silhouette, male this one, will accompany it to form the image of a couple born out of the original chaos. This image present in Odyssey 1997 even goes so far as to be duplicated in the abyss of space where these two characters float in a state of weightlessness Couple in mirror 1997. From then on, this image will be repeated with all kinds of variations in good number of paintings by Bernard Alligand, until the year 2000 when we see its gradual disappearance as the dominant theme.

As far as music is concerned, this theme appears very early in his work, both in engraving and in painting. And there are many paintings by Bernard Alligand from 1992 to 2008 that allude or refer to music.

As far as music is concerned, this theme appears very early in his work, both in engraving and in painting. And there are many paintings by Bernard Alligand from 1992 to 2008 that allude or refer to music. It would be tedious to quote them all. However, it seemed interesting to us to classify them into two categories: those which are the visual transcription of a musical moment Opus 68 2001 and those, the most numerous, which contain, in collages, scores, the only element that differentiates them. Let us dwell for a moment on this distinction.

In the first category, the title indicates that the pictorial space corresponds to the visual impressions that the painter experienced when listening to a work of which he wanted to give a plastic equivalent, without specifying the nature of the musical work in question Notes carried away 1995. In this case, the only important thing, it seems, was the work on the pictorial material in correspondence with his affective reactions Ronde en allegro 2001.

The choice of the work is crucial and Bernard Alligand does not fail to designate or refer to it according to the genre Symphonie 1991, Trio 1998, whether it is vocal Aria 1994 or instrumental; according to the Minuet 2000 movement or even according to the specific nature of the work.

In the second case, the opposite is true. The choice of the work is crucial and Bernard Alligand does not fail to designate or refer to it according to the genre Symphonie 1991, Trio 1998, whether it is vocal Aria 1994 or instrumental; according to the Minuet 2000 movement or even according to the specific nature of the work. By including fragments of sheet music in his paintings he wants to make the music heard in the silent space of painting. In addition to the musical lines, he even gives the title of the work, which is the case in 1998 when a whole series of paintings relating to the music of Henry Purcell (Dido and Aeneas) Ô desire, Ô solitude, Ô plenitude , 1998 will be the subject of a real introspective dive. In fact, either a female silhouette or a couple appear in them, to clearly mark the close relationship between love song and its translation into painting. Works of great sensitivity, of great sensuality in which the music has served, in a way, as an intercessor.

In all cases, however, his approach is the same: transcribe his emotions into the painting, build it from musical rhythms and find chromatic chords corresponding to the tone of the musical work. It goes without saying that in this transposition which consists of writing the painting musically and painting the music, Bernard Alligand introduces a part of subjectivity which contrasts with the objectivity according to which, from the physical properties of matter and color, he was painting his large spatial frescoes which he seemed to be looking at only as a witness. Does this mean that what happens inside man: feelings and passions is like what happens in the universe, and that it is in this way that man communicates with this one? What we could, in fact, deduce from the paintings where silhouettes and musical lines coexist.


Creative reverie


Correlatively, judging by the frequency of the titles, the theme of reverie permanently occupies an important place in the work of Bernard Alligand, both in his engravings and in his paintings; reverie in which the imagination, exercising its powers, transforms images of reality into cosmic visions. This mysterious alchemy in fact began in 1990, Un nourished de rêve, when Bernard Alligand, after his investigation of matter, called upon all the spells of the latter to express his relationship with the natural universe. From the object of study, the material and its colorful content will become the privileged materials of his personal expression: that of his emotional investment, of his psychological involvement in his work. He will then put material objectivity at the service of his subjectivity and all his reactions to nature.

Delivered to the ebb and flow of incessant waves roaming the atmosphere, carried by this sway, earth and sky will no longer form a single air space, half-solid and half-vaporous: the starting point of reverie or product of this Dream Source 2002.

This is how, for example, a beautiful summer sky, Feu bleu 1992, is suddenly traversed by clusters of matter teeming with life, matter where light spreads, diffuses, dilutes, dissolves while elsewhere it spreads lightly, flutters and twirls in bluish, clear and transparent waves. All the canvases resulting from Bernard Alligand's dreamy communion with nature are inhabited by moving shapes and animated by the regular flow of colors. To this spatial dynamism is added the fact that the light, diurnal or nocturnal, coming from an invisible and distant source Les rives de la lumière 2002, unites the sky and the earth in a perpetual swirl of air and fire where they exchange their values: the earth dematerializes and the air fills with crystallized matter. Permutation made possible by the wind which lightens the earth and sprinkles the air with coagulated dust. Delivered to the ebb and flow of incessant waves roaming the atmosphere, carried by this sway, earth and sky will no longer form a single air space, half-solid and half-vaporous: the starting point of reverie or product of this Dream Source 2002.

On the other hand, in the half-day where penumbra and light are side by side, reverie allows the alliance of opposites between the density of the air and the lightness of the matter, between a midnight sun and the night without darkness Sun of night 1996, between the passing moment and infinite time Seeds of time 2003, just as it also allows the invisible to manifest itself. We will observe, moreover, that there is no difference, in Bernard Alligand, between daydreaming and nighttime reverie. Both occur in airspace with the same material characteristics: sparse grainy texturology; internal animation: abundant cloud activity. It seems that all of these elements need to work together for the "crossing of appearances" to take place. It is only when the celestial agitation will have reached its paroxysm that one will see appearing, within this hectic environment, what Bernard Alligand calls “his dreams” Fertile dream 2001, but which are, in fact, visions: that of the silhouettes and that of the Les clartés 2006 bottles.

Let us try to explain this phenomenon, mysterious in appearance, but perhaps not as much as one might suppose. We know, in fact, now, by science, that there is no difference in nature and structure, in the first states of matter, according to whether it comes from the terrestrial universe or from the celestial infinity. This isomorphism has not escaped Bernard Alligand who, in his paintings, will bring together and overlap, made of the same substance, dark forms from the depths of the earth and luminous forms born in the firmament, forms that he will deliver to themselves in a stunning space where all the elements are unleashed. It is then that reverie, using its creative faculty to interpret them as it pleases, will transform some of them into visions.

Indeed, through the paintings of Bernard Alligand, we feel the hardness of the material, but also the infinite softness of the movements of the air, we perceive the quivering of the edges, the rustling of the light; through them we witness the projection of volcanic bombs, the explosion of nebulae in the illuminated void

Phenomenon of transfiguration to which Arnold Schönberg had already invited us with his "Transfigured Night" or Alban Berg with his "Concerto in memory of an angel". But an experience also common to each of us. Who has not seen a day in the noisy and bubbling clouds of a stormy sky, the sparkling shock of breastplates during a titanic fight, the collapse of Valhalla, or the statue of the Commander coming to seek Dom Juan for to train him in the Underworld? Why would Bernard Alligand not see the image of the woman he loves, the object of his thoughts, suddenly appear in his eyes, in the inflamed matter that he triturates and kneads with supervised freedom? or that of these strange and enigmatic bottles, which remained inscribed in his memory, all haloed, too, with a perfume of eroticism? And why wouldn't he let the vision embodied in his work? We then realize that by approaching these new themes that constitute these visions, he introduces them into his creation while retaining their specific characteristics. Unconscious images of a presence that he will want to make last and on which he will now like to dwell without completely breaking contact with reality.

Indeed, through the paintings of Bernard Alligand, we feel the hardness of the material, but also the infinite softness of the movements of the air, we perceive the quivering of the edges, the rustling of the light; through them we witness the projection of volcanic bombs, the explosion of nebulae in the illuminated void; in them we look into the stammering, still unorganized space, this exalted mixture of gas, ether and incandescent particles revealing the first states of matter; in them we watch luminous meteorites pulverize into the atmosphere; in them we listen to the wind raising the dust, and we see the sand carried away by the sea; with them we cross the dense layers of the atmosphere; with them we drift in the air currents Among the winds 1997; with them we navigate among the constellations among the stars that never want to go out; through them we hear, preceding the storm, the rush of clouds in the fiery sky, or the raging swell rushing valiantly to storm the shore; through them we experience happiness and wonder at the moment when the earth returns to gravitation among the stars in the celestial sphere after an agonizing eclipse of the moon or the sun.

Tables which are as many openings on the celestial infinity, on the terrestrial infinity as on the mineral infinity or on the cosmic infinity where there remains, fortunately, it seems, still so much to discover, and on which we can still dream scientifically and pictorially: the two going hand in hand, so much does every hypothesis include, by projecting itself into the future, its inevitable part of the imaginary: "Leap into the unknown" which Bernard Alligand will not be deprived of. But cosmic reverie, for him, is careful not to venture into the uncontrolled and uncontrollable territory of purely dreamlike images leading to the irrational or the fantastic.

But cosmic reverie, for him, is careful not to venture into the uncontrolled and uncontrollable territory of purely dreamlike images leading to the irrational or the fantastic.

His work remains, unequivocal, unambiguous and without ever deviating from it, deeply rooted in the adventure of the universe, like what current science has already been able to teach us and is still trying to elucidate. Universe seized not only in its emergence, but also in its changes, in all the phases and during the phenomena which generated its evolution from the first celestial tremors to the terrestrial folds. ephemeral or sometimes precarious began to tremble, including that of human existence, represented, in Bernard Alligand, by these silhouettes hastily constituted in a vertiginous leap of matter and, although still impalpable, already so tangible that they impose their presence in the void filled with disintegrating terrestrial or interstellar debris, or in the cloudiness of a night sky with bluish light. Silhouettes that Bernard Alligand, as a celestial archaeologist, by the common light of the moon and the stars (frequent in his work), feverishly and daringly freed from their original darkness that he imagines colored; silhouettes of mermaids and sylphs remained in the air where myth and legend have immortalized them. How could Bernard Alligand, in his reverie of the cosmos, not have been seduced by these celestial creatures in the power to enchant us?

Be that as it may, reverie is never, for him, an oasis of peace where the spectacle of nature that has fascinated him would bring him rest, or a pleasure that he would savor in all passivity. On the contrary. By its active force, reverie will encourage him to convert his visual sensations into plastic expression. Phenomenon during which mental images will come to amalgamate with those of the outside world provided by perception. In this process of assimilation, the unconscious will not only be limited to a modifying role, it will also be largely responsible for 'activity that reigns inside the paintings: mixing of colors, instability of lines, movement of shapes, smoothness of the material, imprecision of outlines, impatience of light to illuminate still unexplored spaces. Under this impulse, the real loser then little by little of its precision, of its clarity will slip imperceptibly towards a universe still impregnated with the secrecy of its depths and barely freed from the grip of matter: a universe conducive to reverie.

In order to make it visible, Bernard Alligand uses processes relating to a perfectly mastered pictorial technique, both with regard to the composition almost essentially based on curves to ensure its rhythm in the painting, and with regard to the relationship between colored values, by neighborhood or in transparency, as, for example, when we find side by side, in many tables, white in blue and blue in yellow The shores of light 2002, the colors then passing from the one to the other and one in the other, on the surface and in depth, thanks to the permeability of forms and through the mediation of the material which then seems to emit an interior light.

In order to make it visible, Bernard Alligand uses processes relating to a perfectly mastered pictorial technique, both with regard to the composition almost essentially based on curves to ensure its rhythm in the painting, and with regard to the relationship between colored values, by neighborhood or in transparency, as, for example, when we find side by side, in many tables, white in blue and blue in yellow The shores of light 2002, the colors then passing from the one to the other and one in the other, on the surface and in depth, thanks to the permeability of forms and through the mediation of the material which then seems to emit an interior light. A technique that one could qualify as "impressionist" or "cloud artist" by its power of suggestion. In these scrambled worlds where indecisive forms furiously marry but where they also have difficulty standing out from each other and making their way through them, the gaze, deprived of all fixed landmarks, suddenly finds itself wandering in time as in space. Why ? Because the universe that Bernard Alligand's paintings express and exteriorize, is an unstable, tempestuous universe, in genesis, with changing forms, between what they had just been and which they are no longer and what they are not yet, in a stormy atmosphere deciding their future, in the middle of a battlefield where celestial and terrestrial energies clash, tear and pulverize in the middle of a galactic ocean. Consequently, from 1990 to 2010, all of Bernard Alligand's works will have as a backdrop this ambivalent, agitated universe, halfway between dream and reality, illuminated by an unknown light often coming from elsewhere.

To transcribe this "ambivalence" engendered by reverie, Bernard Alligand does not hesitate to base his pictorial practice on a system of oppositions between continuous development and syncopated ruptures, between linear writing and jerky notations, between the spontaneous impetus of flying forms and their controlled drifts, between the need for limits and their escape into the open. So much so that the lyricism of Bernard Alligand results from the adequacy between what he saw or what he believed to see, between what he felt or imagined and their pictorial treatment, because with him, the choice of technical processes always obey a desire for expression.

If the work of Bernard Alligand gives "his vision of the world", is it not also an invitation to reverie? Invitation where we see the full scope of his paintings that goes far beyond what they represent. However, we cannot only attribute the merit to the “subjects” towards which their titles direct us, always suggestive, often poetic, but which are nevertheless indicators desired by the painter. We must also seek the causes in the pictorial technique of Bernard Alligand which makes us pass from a plastic reality to a state of latency where the imagination takes precedence over perception. This psychological modification, operating without our knowledge, is attributable both to an active light and to the forms with which Bernard Alligand sprinkles his paintings.

Indeed, these, of pure invention, do not have any particular distinctive signs that would make them identifiable. In addition, these free forms have no volume and, for most of them, only carry a small thickness of colored material which can even go as far as transparency. This allows them to glide over one another in space, without ever saturating it, in order to retain its air breathing. By this thinness of shapes without modeling (therefore giving no shadows), only swept by vigorous currents of light, Bernard Alligand develops a whole “surface phenomenology”, reserving only a few, well localized, a contribution material where color, moreover wandering, can take root in order to release all its expressive power.

This technique has the advantage of varying simultaneously, in the same painting, all the changes of light on the color and on the material. From where a composition based apparently only on an exchange of light / colors where the forms come to life, where the contours vibrate, where the lines throb, where life springs up in the heart of the material, as if each painting was only capturing a moment of the world in what it has of unique, daring, energetic and ephemeral.

To which is added the fact that the airspace being unlimited, the perspective no longer has either its usefulness or its raison d'etre to express its depth. This will henceforth depend, not on a structuring geometry, unlike the period 1988/90, but on the fusional couple forms / colors immersed in a bath of day or night light, an impetuous couple which gives its movement to space and life to matter. However, it is through depth that the floating attention moves away from the restless foregrounds to approach indeterminate distances where imaginative reverie can take hold. Passage which is also that of the visible to the invisible by the emergence of forms which one did not know until then the existence, by the permanent invasion of the distances in the close ones due to the superposition of the colors, by clusters of materials of unknown origin and by this light from nowhere which is only passing through. All in a welcoming sky that the swell of winds, day and night, tirelessly traverses and in a space similar to the one we know but having preceded it, a still mysterious space thanks to which we escape to elsewhere.


The "Impressions of Egypt"


The Impressions of Egypt occupy a special place in Bernard Alligand’s work for the following two reasons:

of plants with only a few colored notes and a few scraps of manuscripts; second, by their technique of execution, a passage in the press, hence the word "impressions" chosen by Bernard Alligand to designate them. But these are neither paintings nor engravings. On the other hand, these works have no antecedent in his creation, they have not given rise to any subsequent extension. Because of this, let's quickly try to explain their genesis.

After a trip to 1996, where Bernard Alligand visited the archaeological sites of Egypt, what could have prompted him to return there, in artist residency, from 1998 to 2006 on a regular basis? According to him, the desire to learn about traditional civilization, life in villages and oases, but also and above all the desert. For that he will stay, on several occasions, among the inhabitants of these places, sharing, with them, the daily life and the work of the days: the harvest of dates and the manufacture of crates in branches of palm trees. This manual activity put him on the path to the manipulations and operations to be carried out to preserve the plants gleaned and harvested in order to be able to bring them back to Paris: washing and drying to prevent them from wilting. What he will tell, after the fact, in detail, in his "Interviews with Tita Reut" in 2000, which rightly qualifies the Impressions of Egypt as ethno-paintings.

It is only after a period of maturation that these natural materials (plants, plant fibers, bark, foliage) will find their destination. But, unlike what he had done until then, Bernard Alligand, in order to preserve their identity, will not include them in his painting or in his engravings. Nothing external to them will be added to them except for fragments of texts of popular songs that he has heard and which are part of the culture of the Egyptian people. Technically, these are works that are made up of themselves. Minerals and plants will therefore be subjects and objects of a new creation in their own right. With the Impressions of Egypt, wouldn't Bernard Alligand have discovered another way of grappling with matter, this one of mineral and vegetable origin?

Meticulously placed against the backdrop of the desert sands, these materials will then form "compositions" in the style of Zen gardens, a practice inspired by the activity of a working population who performed ancestral gestures on a daily basis.
Impressions d'Egypte, 2002 34 x 36 cm

Meticulously placed against the backdrop of the desert sands, these materials will then form "compositions" in the style of Zen gardens, a practice inspired by the activity of a working population who performed ancestral gestures on a daily basis. The subsequent passage under the press, after gluing, was only intended to preserve these elements in their entirety, as when making a herbarium. Taken as a whole, the Impressions of Egypt then appear as the stations of a sand path during which the explorer gradually discovers all the forms of desert life. Made of materials coming from this natural environment of which they have kept all the shades of ocher, the color of the ground, but also houses, fabrics, objects, the Impressions of Egypt, atypical works in the production of Bernard Alligand , can nevertheless be classified in this one as “composed still lifes”, in the sense understood by Henri Goetz, when with branches and leaves he reconstituted, in his workshop in the rue de Grenelle, “mini landscapes ”from which he drew inspiration for his“ abstract still lifes ”.


Moroccan footprints


Les Empreintes Marocaines is in the same vein as the Impressions of Egypt, since, like them, they were the result of repeated stays in artist residency in 2000, 2001 and 2002, which Bernard Alligand made in Morocco. But the comparison between the two ends there, although his questioning has not changed since his trip to Japan from where he brought back papers and sake canvases to include them in his paintings, namely: what can a contemporary artist do with traditional materials used by civilizations other than ours? As his harvest in the Moroccan desert remained in the same vein as his Egyptian quest, and in the same colorful register. Bernard Alligand decided, in "his descent into the bowels of civilization", to focus his attention instead on the crafts related to the use of colors, textures ...

Unlike the Impressions of Egypt, the reinvestment in his personal work, his discoveries, will be considerable, to the point of leading to a complete change of direction in both his themes and his making. If the templates, a geometric model used in the decoration of tiles and earthenware, reused as is by Bernard Alligand for their ornamental aspect, still give his works an abstract character (although we can see a radiant sun in them), he does not It will not be the same for vases and flasks. These, as much by the container as by the content (of the essences), will exert such a fascination on Bernard Alligand that they will encourage him to introduce figurative forms of expression into his abstract compositions. Which will constitute a new change in his pictorial vocabulary.

What are the reasons for this mix between these two languages, considered practically incompatible throughout the 20th century, the subject of much controversy and sometimes even quarrels: figuration, abstraction? Several, of course, as always, in such circumstances. We will only retain, here, for our part, only the two main ones: intrinsic reasons on the one hand (specific to the internal evolution of the work) and extrinsic reasons on the other hand, without direct relation, otherwise coincidence or synchronicity with the work in progress. Both simultaneously and at their point of intersection, that is, at the moment of the transition from a certain type of language to another language.

Since 1994, Bernard Alligand had regularly produced ceramics. But it was especially in 2003 that he devoted a significant part of his creative activity to them, to the point of calling himself this year "the year of ceramics". This is to say how much, for him, this activity meant. During this decade (1994-2003), his ceramics had followed a path parallel to his painting for the good reason that he partially transposed the latter on various volumes: vases, jars, dishes, without the technique used to the ceramics would interfere with his painted work.
Céramique en porcelaine

However, in order to explain this change of direction, it is important to take a brief look back. Since 1994, Bernard Alligand had regularly produced ceramics. But it was especially in 2003 that he devoted a significant part of his creative activity to them, to the point of calling himself this year "the year of ceramics". This is to say how much, for him, this activity meant. During this decade (1994-2003), his ceramics had followed a path parallel to his painting for the good reason that he partially transposed the latter on various volumes: vases, jars, dishes, without the technique used to the ceramics would interfere with his painted work.

After his first two stays in Morocco, two works, significant in this regard, will be performed with resolutely figurative subjects, a dish and a large carpet 2 mx 2 m entitled Composed Nature whose title already calls out to the Impressions of Egypt. of 1999 by the “composed” approach and by the use of the word “nature” which does not however refer here to space or to the landscape. In either case - carpet and flat - it is a spatial staging of two completely new elements in Bernard Alligand's theme: a bottle and a vase, side by side, central motif of these works. How could these two objects have appeared, barely stylized, with so much force and authority? Because in Bernard Alligand’s work, let’s not forget, everything is held together and comes back recurrently, like the resurgences of a deep and constant concern, with more or less assertive dominance.

To fully understand this evolution, we must return to a canvas painted during the year 2001 Nature revealed in which the word "revealed" indicates that we are dealing with something major, totally new, because the word "revelation" , from which it derives, refers to an exceptional phenomenon, tinged with mystery. If we compare the vase and the carpet, we see that they are, both in their subject matter and in their composition, directly inspired by this painting. But how does it correspond, like Ficelles in 1985, to the criteria of a transitional work? Because it is located on the one hand at a point of convergence where anthropomorphic silhouettes are transmuted into objects, and on the other hand, by the peaceful coexistence of two universes, one spatial, unstable and natural, the other stable and artificial, because invented from scratch by the working hand of man whose objects she manufactures will enter for the first time in a space otherwise doomed to air turbulence. We can clearly see that these objects, three flasks, have not yet found in this agitated environment, neither their center of gravity, nor their final forms, being themselves in the midst of a metamorphosis.

It is perhaps not useless to recall that what struck Bernard Alligand above all on his arrival in Morocco, in addition to the "arabesques" decorating the houses, the fabrics, the carpets, the crockery, was the profusion of vases. and bottles that show all the refinement of this civilization. This is precisely what this revealed Nature painting wanted to take into account from the outset, by spontaneously establishing a link between silhouettes of a feminine look in the process of

By replacing the silhouettes with the linearity and the volume of the bottles, there is nothing surprising about this. Simple passing of the baton. We vary the theme by changing the lexicon, but we always stay in the same pictorial discourse: an abstract construction, punctuated by lines, punctuated by color and animated by flights of materials, with, from time to time, here or there, a 2002 Dream Sources work bringing together a female silhouette and a vase, as if, for Bernard Alligand, it was necessary to recall, in case we have forgotten, the analogy between these two forms, now also voluptuous one than the other.
Variations manuscrites, 2009 - 50 x 50 cm

disappearing in its paintings and objects making their entry into painting here. We can clearly see, looking at this painting, that there is a superposition, a prelude to a complete substitution because these bottles are animated. They have a human posture. This proves that the process of solidification which would give them their final status as objects has nevertheless not yet been completed. These bottles, still personified, already suggest, however, all the sensuality of their future shapes. By replacing the silhouettes with the linearity and the volume of the bottles, there is nothing surprising about this. Simple passing of the baton. We vary the theme by changing the lexicon, but we always stay in the same pictorial discourse: an abstract construction, punctuated by lines, punctuated by color and animated by flights of materials, with, from time to time, here or there, a 2002 Dream Sources work bringing together a female silhouette and a vase, as if, for Bernard Alligand, it was necessary to recall, in case we have forgotten, the analogy between these two forms, now also voluptuous one than the other. Forms through which Bernard Alligand seems to have rediscovered the physical pleasure he had experienced in kneading clay when he followed modeling lessons in 1981-1982 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Angers.

It is true that, since the Nudes of 1984-1985, he had hardly had the opportunity to express, in any way whatsoever, the slightest erotic feeling, busy as he had been from 1985 to 1992, to want to penetrate the mysteries of the material and to define, by a "reasoned geometrization" the foundations and the principles on which his work was to rest. In the year 2000, taking over from silhouettes, the bottles will have inherited, by transfer, all of their sensuality. This is suggested by the tables which show them side by side. In these compositions, in any case, their relationship to femininity seems obvious. Accompanying a languid nude, would they not, by chance, be toilet accessories necessary for the preparations for love? One cannot help seeing, in the background of this representation, the “Odalisques” by Delacroix or Matisse, or, in their privacy, the women in their toilet by Degas, but also the delicate “Nudes”, full of modesty and sensitivity, which Marthe's youthful, elegant and graceful body (the body of a woman-child) inspired in Bonnard. With the difference that instead of being in an enclosed space, the scene Bernard Alligand evokes takes place in the sky, levitating in the middle of a wind of mist which diffracts an iridescent light. Subliminal image, expression of desire, fantasy or memory stripped of its circumstances, already timeless?

If the arabesques, with their decorative networks of repeated lines, straight or curved, will be inserted, as they are, by inclusion, in the engravings, in order to create, within them, rhythmic sequences, the bottles will retain their figurative identity, as if Bernard Alligand needed to maintain the form to evoke their content. But he will do much more still, grouping them together to increase the weight of their silent presence and to emphasize their value as particular objects, both in terms of their aesthetic appearance and their function (how can we not think of Morandi here?). then, finally, these will replace the abstract forms navigating in space. Thus will they enter into the cosmology of paintings: still lifes immersed by absorption in a living nature. It must be said that their content: elixirs, gives them a privilege, that of providing an intoxication capable of giving a poetic vision of the world The poetics 2006. Bernard Alligand will broadly develop this theme of vases and flasks where the space surrounding these objects suddenly seems in the throes of a cosmic dizziness.

While Les Délices 2007 evokes the euphoria that these exquisitely flavored beverages are likely to induce, Offerings 2009 would rather emphasize their use, on the religious, ritual, sacred and ceremonial nature of their use. The 2008 treasures, on the other hand, would rather allude to their appearance of precious, rare, refined, luxurious, even magical objects. This relationship of the work to the title (or vice versa) is, of course, voluntary on the part of Bernard Alligand, who here sweeps the entire field of perception: visual, sensory, olfactory, gustatory. This form of insistence clearly shows the value he places on these objects: vases and flasks, and the preponderant place they occupied for him during his stay in Morocco. If, through them, he venerates, as he claims, the meticulous craftsmen who shaped them (which his experience with ceramics will have enabled him to assess), his appreciation goes far beyond mere recognition. We are in the realm of aesthetic emotion, of sensation with multiple ramifications, of enjoyment that can even go as far as ecstasy.

On the other hand, as he had already done previously, Moroccan civilization being also a written civilization, Bernard Alligand will insert, in his paintings, texts written in the Arabic language which, although foreign, nonetheless possesses the same qualities as the French language, anxious to find a common denominator between cultures while respecting their differences.
Empreintes marocaines

All the works, and they are numerous, bearing the general title of Moroccan Footprints are, in fact, very strongly marked, either in the patterns or in the objects represented, by a certain form of exoticism which will have profoundly influenced him. by its ornamental richness. On the other hand, as he had already done previously, Moroccan civilization being also a written civilization, Bernard Alligand will insert, in his paintings, texts written in the Arabic language which, although foreign, nonetheless possesses the same qualities as the French language, anxious to find a common denominator between cultures while respecting their differences.

Icelandic walks


His trips to Iceland in 2002, 2007 and 2010 and the resulting works, some of which are still in progress, mark a turning point in Bernard Alligand's art. A land of volcanoes and glaciers, near Greenland, Iceland is a land full of contrasts with green pastures and multicolored houses. Here is the landscape that Bernard Alligand discovers with amazement from his first stay, a landscape at the antipodes of the one he had just left (Morocco, made of sparkling sun on the sands of the desert), a landscape of ice and fire, of snow, water and greenery where black, red, green and white dominate, colors that Bernard Alligand will immediately use in all their violence, as the basis of his new creations.

In order to understand this chaotic territory, this "country without limits" with grazing light of astonishing intensity, where the summer sun never sets, Bernard Alligand will first of all behave like a geographer and a geologist, treading on and excavating the soil, at the surface and at depth, to take samples. His first collection will be mineral: black volcanic sands, golden sands with shells collected on the peninsula where Jules Verne imagined “The journey to the center of the earth”, sulphurous sludge, iron deposits, ash dust collected around volcanoes; all materials that he brings back and that after drying and sieving, Bernard Alligand will incorporate into his works. But also pebbles polished by the sea, white mountain stones, red volcanic stones that he will have to crush and grind to reduce them to powder. On the vegetal level: mosses and herbs whose assembly by nature in tidy tufts had caught his attention. This reconnaissance of the land carried out, Bernard Alligand returned to what had immediately struck him upon his arrival: the bright colors of the houses painted in green, blue, yellow, red, orange, purple, colors whose intensity varies according to the hours of the day. day, and the fact that some houses were clad in corrugated iron siding. This palette of shades, which only exists in Iceland, had a lot to seduce him. As for the cladding of the houses, this did not fail to intrigue him either.

As soon as he returned to France, he looked for the means to find the equivalent. But, out of context, would these colors keep all their brilliance, all their radiance? Probably not. It was therefore necessary to put them in a situation, that is to say to recreate around them, an environment evoking the environment in which they find themselves.

 In order to understand this chaotic territory, this "country without limits" with grazing light of astonishing intensity, where the summer sun never sets, Bernard Alligand will first of all behave like a geographer and a geologist, treading on and excavating the soil, at the surface and at depth, to take samples. His first collection will be mineral: black volcanic sands, golden sands with shells collected on the peninsula where Jules Verne imagined “The journey to the center of the earth”, sulphurous sludge, iron deposits, ash dust collected around volcanoes; all materials that he brings back and that after drying and sieving, Bernard Alligand will incorporate into his works.
Balade islandaise

What do you mean ? By using mineral powders taken from Icelandic soil to preserve the original colors. This is how Bernard Alligand produced a thematic series of 18 square paintings of 40 centimeters per side with corrugated cardboard as a background reminiscent of corrugated iron houses and to place, on it, the colors as they appeared to him. , not only houses but also those of the ground, the water, the sand and the green nature, with lines in white paint and spots of black to indicate that in this country, glaciers and volcanoes do nothing but 'a. Paintings that could just as well be called volcanic scriptures because the colored matter present in them comes from Icelandic soil. Once completed, this set was called Icelandic Walks because of their walk-like journey through the territory to show both its variety and unity. Iceland is therefore the source of the change in chromatic register that can be seen in Bernard Alligand's paintings from 2010 onwards with dominations of green, black and red which until then did not exist. And for good reason. The large aerial frescoes, clear and luminous, have succeeded the dark colors of the earth expelled from its depths.

At the end of our journey and before leaving Bernard Alligand's paintings to other glances, to other sensibilities, to other readings, let's take stock of what we have just seen: a topical work that s 'questions about the role and the properties of matter, a work that places man at the heart of the universe on which he projects his unconscious images, his dreams, his loves, a work where we hear the pulse beat world and throbbing the first tremors of life, a work which found its source in the incomparable light and among the golden sands of the "deep Loire", an elegiac work which never ceased to exalt the beauties of nature before which Bernard Alligand has always been ecstatic, a work where color exults in marriage in space, a work where rigor tempers subjectivity, but a work also attentive to the life of peoples, their customs, their cultures. This is what makes the modernity and specificity of Bernard Alligand who has also innovated in engraving, a field in which he excels. If some people have often spoken of "Lyrical abstraction" about it, it is because Bernard Alligand gave this form of expression a cosmic, human, even humanist dimension.

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

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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