Bernard Gilbert deconstructs the divide between abstraction and figuration, between purely optical and tactile space, with a view to connecting the chromatic and formal world that he senses. His sumptuous spatial constructs, with their multiple layers, challenge the viewer’s perceptual expectations. Colliding spaces, as well as the unexpected alliances between morphing geometrics, yield a stereoscopic painting landscape, where geometry is contaminated by erupting spectral traces, where intermittent straight lines and checkerboard-like motifs share their space with strands of organic life forms ablaze with glittering lights.
The artist does not coerce colors into loudness: Bernard Gilbert ushers them into realms of overwhelming chromatics, through an energetic outburst of scattered allusions to eroding forms, lacerations, bruises, worlds intertwined, polygonal glissandi, close contoured figures morphing into dormant shapes. The genesis of smudges verging on the informal is meant to encounter precisely wrought shapes, which are declined into columns, squares, parallelograms larded with vegetal and cosmic shrieking exclamations. The brilliant proliferation of layers subtracted from the visible—never a gratuitous display of virtuosity—entices the viewer to let go of everyday visual grammar.
Leading us into a journey within the microscopic dimension, at the heart of the very flesh of colors, rich in distortions and serial frequencies, Bernard Gilbert’s creations shape a universe populated with anti-forms caught verging upon visibility coalescence, and unveiling recoiling worlds underneath the even spread of matter. Primeval archetypes suggesting dimensions, directions, and textures of space are turned inside out, recast, shifted. His musical, almost Borges-like compositions question precognition, cognition, seeing through and after images.
Drippings, imperceptible shifts between colors phasing in and out of one another, conjure visions that are neither figurative nor abstract: A quantum counterpoint, a palimpsest of graph overlays, where the savage and the civilized wrestle. Meaning is as fluid as pigment. There is no metalanguage to be interpreted from such a new manner of painting. Experimenting with haptic dispositions, whereby the eye caresses the flux that it sees, Bernard Gilbert’s painting undertakes to penetrate deeply under the skin of the sensible world.
On the lookout for new possibilities, the artist acknowledges the remainders within himself of the worlds whose genesis he records. Inasmuch as a new pictorial alphabet may be divined from recurring motifs, it is not, however, to be cast as a definite code to decipher imagery. From large, oversized productions to smaller formats, Bernard Gilbert’s paintings bear testimony to a fabulous capacity for hearing cries, murmurs, whispers as they come to haunt shapes, colors and lights.
Véronique Bergen, 2016
Number 134, 2011, acrylic on polyester canvas, 150 x 130 cm
Number 113, 2010, acrylic on polyester canvas, 180 x 150 cm
Number 244, 2016, oil and acrylic on polyester canvas, 180 x 150 cm