2.04.2010

Hot and CoolThe painter's model is commodity. All sorts of commodities: apparel, toiletries, bridal accessories, erotica, food. And the painter is always present in his paintings, a black silhouette who seems to watch: painter and love, painter and death, painter and food, painter and car... But from one model to the other, they are all measured by the unique model of Commodity moving with the painter. Each painting is built on a dominant color, and the paintings form a series. It is as if the series began with the painting Rouge de cadmium and finished with Vert Veromese, representing the same painting, but this time exhibited in the dealer's shop: the painter and his painting have themselves become green is not hope; yellow is not



-------------------------------------------------------LE Rouge _ 1968 (Fromanger Godard about drawing)

________________AbouT FrOManGer _ Painter and Activist



The painter's model is commodity. All sorts of commodities: apparel, toiletries, bridal accessories, erotica, food. And the painter is always present in his paintings, a black silhouette who seems to watch: painter and love, painter and death, painter and food, painter and car... But from one model to the other, they are all measured by the unique model of Commodity moving with the painter. Each painting is built on a dominant color, and the paintings form a series. It is as if the series began with the painting Rouge de cadmium and finished with Vert Veromese, representing the same painting, but this time exhibited in the dealer's shop: the painter and his painting have themselves become commodities. Still, we could imagine other beginnings and other endings. In any case, from one painting to the other, not only is the painter strolling through the shops, but the values of exchange are in circulation; it is a journey of colors, and a journey in each painting, a circulation of intonations. Nothing is neutral or passive. And yet the painter doesn't mean anything by his work: neither approbation nor anger. Nor do the colors mean anything: green is not hope; yellow is not sadness; red is not happiness or joy. Only hot or cool, hot and cool. Art as machinery: Fromanger paints, that is to say, he knows how to operate his paintings. The painting-machine of an artist-engineer.
The artist-engineer of a civilization: how does he operate his paintings?



Newspaper photograph in hand, the painter has plotted the positions: street, store, people. It's not about grasping the atmosphere, but rather an ever-suspended immanence, the uniform possibility that something like a new Kennedy assassination could come out of nowhere, in a system of indifference where the values of exchange circulate. The photograph captures a number of colorless cliches, and the painter chooses the one he likes. But he will have chosen the photo based on a different choice: the single dominant color that flows from the paint-tube (the two choices compliment each other). The painter projects the image onto the canvas and paints the projected image, just like the technique of creating tapestries. The painter paints in the darkness for hours. This nocturnal activity reveals an eternal truth about painting: a painter has never painted on a blank canvas, reproducing an object that functions as a model. Rather, he has always painted an image, a simulacrum, a shadow of the object, producing a canvas whose very functioning reverses the relationship between model and copy. Consequently, there is no longer model or copy. The copy, and the copy of the copy, is pushed to the point where it reverses itself, and produces the model: Pop Art or painting for a "higher reality." Having chosen a color, the painter applies it straight from the tude, mixing it only with zinc white. This color, in relation to the photo, could be hot like Rouge Chine vermillionne or Violet de Bayeux, or cool like Vert Aubusson or Violet d'Egypte. He starts with the lightest areas (where there is the most white) and constructs his painting on a gradient that doesn't allow for back-tracking, drips, or blends. An irreversible ascending series of flat tints rises toward the pure color squeezed from the tube, or rejoins this pure color; as though the painting in the end were going to crawl back into the tube. Still, this doesn't fully explain how the painting operates, because a color is only potentially hot or cool, and this potential will be actualized only in relation to the other colors. For example, a second color affects a particular part of the photo: a pedestrian. Not only is this color lighter or darker than the dominant color, but being hot or cool in its own right, it can heat it up or cool it down. A circuit of exchange and communication is set up in the painting, and from one painting to another. Look at Violet de Bayeux with its hot ascending gradient: a child in the background is painted a cool green, and so, by contrast, begins heating up the potentially hot violet. But this isn't enough to animate the violet. In the foreground, a man painted a hot yellow will kindle or re-kindle the violet and, with the green acting as intermediary, will actualize the violet's potential over and above the green. But now the cool green is out of the loop, isolated, as though exhausting its function all at once. It must itself be sustained, inserted back into the painting, reanimated or reactivated within the painting as a whole. It does this through a third character-color: the cool blue behind the yellow. Sometimes these secondary and circulatory colors are grouped around one single color, which they divide up into bands or arcs. And sometimes the photo resists being transformed into a living painting. It leaves a residue, as in Violet de Bayeux, where one of the character-colors in the foregrounded group remains undetermined. This color will be treated like black, with a dual potential that can be actualized in both directions; or it can "drift" toward cool blue as easily as move toward hot red. The residue is re-injected into the painting, such that the painting operates using the refuse of the photo, just as the photo operates using the colors that make up the painting. We have to consider another element which is present in all the paintings from the start, an element that jumps from one painting to another: the black painter in the foreground. The painter who paints in the blackness is himself black: his silhouette is massive; the curves of his body are salient; his chin is hard and heavy, and his hair is braided like a rope. He observes the commodities. He waits. But the black doesn't exist; the black painter doesn't exist. The black doesn't even have a potential in the same way a hot or cool color does. Its potential is below the surface: black is both hot and cool: cool when pulled toward blue, and hot when pulled toward red.
Though present with such force, this black has no existence. Instead, it serves a primordial function in the painting. Whether hot or cool, it will be the antithesis of the dominant color, or the same as this color: for example, to reheat what was cool.
Take the painting Vert Aubusson: the black painter watches and loves the seated model, a dead cool green woman.




She is beautiful in death. But to make her death hot, some yellow must be extracted from the green, and to do this, blue must be drawn out as the compliment of yellow.
So, the black painter must be cooled off again in order to reheat the green death. (See, too, in Rouge de cadmium clair, how the young married models are very discreetly given death's-heads, or in Violet de Mars, the dead bathing beauties are elegant vampires caught in a variable relation with the black silhouette). In a word, the black painter has two functions in the painting, according to two different circuits: 1) he is a paranoid, immobile, heavy silhouette just as fixated on commodity as commodity is fixated on him; but 2) he is also a mobile schizoid shadow perpetually displaced with respect to himself, traversing the whole gradient of hot and cool, reheating the cool and cooling down the hot: a never-ending trip while standing still.


The painting and its series don't mean anything, they function. And they function using at least four elements (though there are many others): 1) the irreversible
ascending gradient of the dominant color which traces in the painting a whole system of connections marked with white points; 2) the network of secondary
colors, which forms disjunctions of the hot and the cool, a reversible exchange of transformations, reactions, inversions, inferences, heatings and coolings;



3) the black painter as major conjunction which contains in itself the disjunctive, and which distributes the connections; and 4), when necessary, the residue of the photo that re-injects into the painting everything that was about to escape. A life force circulates here, a strange and vital force.



There are two coexisting circuits, each entangled in the other. There is the circuit of the photo, or the photos, which serves as the support of the commodities;
there is the circulation of exchange value, and whose importance lies in mobilizing what remains indifferent.


This indifference occurs at three levels of the painting: 1) the indifference of the commodity in the background, which is equivalent to love, death or nourishment, to the naked or the clothed, to a still life, or to a machine; 2) the indifference of the pedestrians, some stationary, others slipping away, such as the blue man or the green woman in Violet de Mars, or the man who is eating as he passes by the newlyweds; 3) the indifference of the black painter in the foreground, his indifferent equivalence to every commodity and passer-by. But perhaps these respective circuits of indifference, each one mirroring the other, exchanging with the other, introduce something like a declaration: the feeling that something is not right, that something keeps disrupting


the apparent equilibrium of circuits, that each thing is keeping to itself in the compartmentalized depth of the painting: the commodity keeps to commodities,
the humans to the human, and the painter to himself. This is the circuit of death, where everyone is heading towards the grave, or is already there. It is at this rupture point, everywhere present, that the other circuit connects up, rejoining the painting, reorganizing it, turning the discrete planes into the rings of a spiral that causes the background to come forward, and the various elements to react with each other in a system of simultaneous inductions. But now it is a vital circuit, with its black sun, its ascending color and its radiant hots and cools. And still the circuit of life is nourished by the circuit of death and carries it along, ultimately to triumph over it.



It is hard to ask a painter, 'Why do you paint?' The question makes no sense. But what about:



How do you paint? How does the painting function? And suddenly:
What do you get out of painting? Imagine that Fromanger answers: "I paint in the dark, and what I'm after is hot and cool, and I want to get it from the colors, through the colors." A cook, too, can be after hot and cool, or a junky. Maybe the paintings are Fromanger's food, or his drugs.


Hot and cool: that's what can be extracted from color as much as from anything else (like writing, dance, music, or the media). Conversely, there are other things to be extracted from color as well, and this extraction is never easy, no matter what it is. What this means is that the operation of extracting, or extricating something doesn't happen all by itself. As McLuhan has shown,2 when the medium is hot, nothing circulates or communicates except through the cool, which controls every active interaction, including painter with model, spectator with painter, and model with copy. What counts is the perpetual reversals of hot and cool, according to which the hot can cool down the cool and the cool reheat the hot: it's like heating
an oven with snow balls.



What is revolutionary about this painting? Perhaps it's the radical absence of bitterness, tragic grief, and anguish—all that annoying crap in the pseudo-great painters who are supposedly the witnesses of their times. All those fascist and sadistic fantasies that make a painter seem like an incisive critic of the modern world, when in fact he is only reveling in his own resentment and complacency, not to mention the complacency of his patrons. Though such a painting may be abstract, it is none the less dirty, disgusting, and sad. Like the game-keeper says to the painter:


"All these tubes and vibrations of corrugated iron are really stupid,
and too sentimental; they exhibit way too much self-pity and vain
insecurity." Fromanger does the opposite: he exhibits something vital and powerful. Perhaps this explains why he is not liked by connoisseurs, and why his work doesn't sell. His paintings are full of shop windows, and his silhouette is everywhere: and yet he offers no mirror to reflect our gaze. He paints against the fantasy which mutilates life, which turns life toward death, and the past, even when it's done in a modern style: to this Fromanger opposes a life-giving process that has been wrested from the grip of death, and from the past. Fromanger understands the poisonous nature of his model, the ruse of commodity, the pedestrian's inevitable stupidity, and the hatred that follows a painter as soon as he becomes political, and the hatred he himself can feel. However, out of this poisonous nature, this ruse, this ugliness and hatred, Fromanger refuses to create a narcissistic mirror for some hypocritical, generalized reconciliation, exciting pity for himself and for the world. Out of everything ugly, repugnant, hateful and detestable, he knows how to extract the hots and the cools that create a life for tomorrow. We have to imagine the cool revolution as necessarily reheating today's over-heated world. Is this hyper-realism? Why not, if it wrests a "more-real" from a melancholy and oppressive reality to create joy, to cause an explosion, to start a revolution. Fromanger loves the dead green woman-commodity, and gives her life by making his blackness more blue. Maybe he even loves the fat violet woman awaiting, and mourning, who knows what client.


He loves everything he paints. This presupposes no abstraction, and no agreement either, but demands much extracting and extractive force. It's strange to what extent the acts of a revolutionary are governed by what he loves in the very world he wants to destroy. The only revolutionary is a joyful revolutionary, and the only painting that is esthetically and politically revolutionary is joyful. Fromanger lives and accomplishes what Lawrence says: "In my opinion, either there is joy in a painting, or it's not a painting.
The most somber paintings of Piero della Francesca, Sodoma and Goya, breath out this indescribable joy found in real painting. Modern critics talk a lot about the ugliness of paintings, but I have never seen a real painting that I thought was ugly. The subject can be ugly, it can have a terrifying quality, a desperate, almost repugnant quality, as in El Greco's paintings. But all of this is strangely swept away by the joy of the painting. No artist, even the most desperate, has ever painted something without experiencing the strange joy which the creation of the image begets"5—that is to say, the transformation which the image undergoes in the painting, and the change that the painting produces in the image.
_______________________________ Gilles Deleuze.
Translated by Teal Eich


From Desert Island s and Other texts___________ 1953-1974
PUBlIShed 2004 __________________<>

SEmIotexte Foreign Agent Series ____________________ --------------------------------------------------------------------

1. In Fromanger, le peintre et le modele (Paris: Baudard Alvarez, 1973), exhibition catalogue. Born in 1939, Gerard Fromanger gets himself noticed in May '68 by exhibiting huge plastic spheres in the streets of Paris. But Deleuze is concerned here with the monochrome composition which Fromanger turned to early in the '70s. 2. M. McLuhan, Pour Comprendre les medias (Paris: Mame-Seuil, 1968), pp. 39-50. 3. D.H. Lawrence, Eros et les chiens, ed. Christian Bourgois (Paris, 1969) p. 195.


Entretien avec Gérard Fromanger, réalisé le 9 juin par Joël Koskas, Christian Laval et Louis Weber

Gérard Fromanger

Je ne suis pas spectateur du monde, je suis dedans. Ni plus ni moins que n’importe qui. Je le suis par passion et par nature et pas du tout par idéologie ou par volontarisme. Je reste ainsi proche des gens. Lors de mes expositions, il y a quelque chose qui passe, je le vois bien. Quelque chose qui fait vivre une petite flamme. Les gens viennent, disent bonjour, regardent, bavardent. De temps en temps ils achètent. Je me sens valorisé, gratifié par cet écho. Par exemple, à chaque exposition, j’offre un poster. Je le tire à 800, 900 exemplaires. Il est là, avec l’écriteau : servez-vous. Quelle révolution dans l’esprit des gens ! Pourtant, c’est tout petit. Je le donne, sur un beau papier. Vous voulez que je le signe ? Je le signe. Les marchands ne sont pas d’accord ! " Il ne faut jamais donner ! ", disent-ils. J’ai été obligé de quitter certains d’entre eux, parce qu’ils ne voulaient pas que je donne. Mais l'essentiel n'est pas là. L'essentiel, c'est qu'il y a des peintres qui résistent. Même un peu, c’est déjà beaucoup. Ils résistent au marché, à l’histoire, aux tentations, et par là même ils résistent à la mort ... Ce qui évidemment ne leur appartient pas en propre ! Tout le monde peut se dire : « je ne suis pas devant le monde, je suis dans le monde »