“Artists are the only people capable of telling society its own truth. All works of art are a metaphor for what the artist believes to be our condition. ” James Baldwin
When I visited Jean-Michel Comte‘s atelier, a strange sensation invaded me, as if I were entering another dimension. His paintings, mostly in black and white, fascinate and disturb at the same time, as if one wanted to decipher what those skeins of black lines hide. His images are characterized by a strong contrast, the almost exclusive use of black and white and a radical gesture. Self-portraits dumbfounded, eruptive flights or systematic lines, he works at ballpoint pen, his fetiche tool.
Then I saw him. A stylish man dressed in black. (Would this be due to his career in the luxury industry for Gucci and Hermès?) Jean-Michel Comte lives in Lausanne. He graduated from the Beaux-Arts in France and continued his studies at HEAD in Geneva.
I found him working in a collage, cutting and gluing withe paper on a new art piece lying on the floor. He was very accesible and kept working on that piece while showing me all the rest. I discover a multitasking and passion driven artist.
Jean-Michel also works on the technique of collage. He cuts, scratches, glues, traces, claws, erases, and always keeps the requirement of an incisive, graphic gesture. The immediacy and the impulse are the vectors of his expression. His work takes many forms; the series in which the words are no longer readable, and are covered with large lines or with free black repentances. Letters move, words break down. I must say I like this instability, and that’s what probably perturbed me. Working in communication I often face this as a problem, but in art, we call it expression. While in psychology could be emotional flow.
He also draws lines to pen, covering unidentified forms. The appearance almost organic of these traits deploys an epidermis that covers and obstructs at the same time. In one of his pieces, underneath the black lines, I could guess a picture of him. Graphic intensity and gestures are two fundamental facts. Finally, his vocabulary is augmented by human figures. Stuck self-portraits stage it, and tell a story of the unspeakable, where heads and orifices pour out streaks of ink in abstract battles with matter.
Does the truth of “society” reveal itself in this fight? I will let you find the answer contemplating his art, which certainly has a lot for us to reveal.
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