Paul Meznage, the colours of life
The Galerie de l'Uzège in Uzès regularly exhibits Paul Meznage, a painter who is a regular visitor to this confidential place.
The editorial team took the opportunity of his last exhibition to lead you on a journey along the artist's imaginary and sparkling routes, full of of colour and landscapes that will lead you into a very personal and colourful universe.
Delighted to welcome you to the blog's portrait gallery.
First of all, a little introduction. How long have you been painting?
I started painting with a friend when I was about 14 or 15 to try out some colours. Then, as the years went by, instead of seeing myself burning up festival stages as an actor, and I got hooked on painting.
What training did you have, what were your influences?
I'm totally self-taught. Working with artists and studying their work has been a great source of inspiration for me too.
How long have you been exhibiting?
I've been exhibiting in art galleries since 1988. My first exhibition was at the Galerie du Portalet in Uzès. Before that, I was selling my paintings here and there, without really settling down. The turn of the 90s was really decisive. My work attracted interest from galleries in Lyon, Albi and Marseille. Then galleries in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.
The 'parallel markets' were also very interesting. Swiss collectors to whom I had sold paintings would talk to galleries about them... and me, and exhibitions would be added to my diary.
Have coloured tones always been part of your paintings? Blue, yellow and green are regularly used in your paintings, as is burgundy...
When I was a child, I was very fond of Shell panels, yellow and green, an extraordinary contrast. I see life in colour, I perceive the nuances of everything. When I go for a walk or a drive, it's always the colours that I perceive even before I see the landscapes...
Picasso said that he didn't paint what he saw, but what he thought. Is this the case for you?
I paint according to my desires, the moments and sensations I'm experiencing at the time. I never paint in continuity... For fifteen minutes one morning, I'll do something else before coming back to my canvas. That's how I see painting: a touch of colour, a brushstroke, and all the time in the world to focus on it when inspiration strikes, when emotion grips me.
Like Picasso, I need to have a certain vision, sometimes flashes. The eye gets used to the work when you paint it all day long, and you have to learn to detach yourself from it to be able to create, and as I'm not good in drawing, this process is quite useful for me in bringing my work to life, in giving life to my project. Sometimes I'm even surprised by what I paint. My paintings take on a kind of independence.
What are your favourite themes? We've noticed that you do like nature...
I really like nature, and it's true that this theme comes up regularly. There's the giraffe, the cheetah too... But I also like to slip an anachronistic element into the setting, like a boat (a reminder of my passion for the sea and sailing boats passed on by my grandfather), or even a locomotive.
How could you define your style?
That's a very difficult question, because I change my style, I think, every six or seven years. It's a natural process.
I'd say I'm childish. My painting is not naïve. It's more inspired by the drawings of younger children, around the age of 4 or 5. I try to imagine an allegory that comes as close as possible to their very particular conception of space, trying to preserve their spontaneity while remaining, let's say, very professional.
Auguste Renoir used to say that it only took him five minutes to make a drawing, but it took him sixty years to do it. Is this also the case for you? Is the preliminary work, the research, the reflection much longer than the creation itself?
Yes, that's certainly the case for my paintings. In fact, I've adopted Alphonse Allais's quote "Everything is in everything", or could it be the quote of writer Alfred Capus... in the sense that everything is linked, in the end. Work is essential, that's a fact, but each artist is at the service of his art.
It's a bit like the principle of the unique creations of the Facteur Cheval, who never counted the hours. I start with a canvas and, as I go along, I complete it without at first having a very precise idea of what the final result will be.
The colours also arrive as I go along, and complete the perception I have of my painting. They bring it to life in their own special way.
All in all, it's as if I'm living a different story every time. "The cover of the book I never wrote" was the title of one of my exhibitions, a title that reflects my perception of art. My paintings are like an open book...
Thanks to Paul Meznage for his collaboration on this article and for the visuals sent.