Finally, it’s a rather nice thought that the Réquichot myth is embodied in the reality of a work launched like a bottle thrown to the sea sixty years ago. A work he didn’t want to show and we discover in its full amplitude only now.
During his lifetime, he feared that commentary, especially flattering, would disturb the intimacy of his creative process.
Since his death in 1961, there has been nothing with the exception of several provincial exhibits and the five works permanently shown at the Pompidou Center in Paris. It was difficult, seeing so few things, to understand why during his great period from 1956 to 1961, he followed parallel paths as if he couldn’t choose between them. He never wanted to explain his approach or make theoretical remarks that would have certainly helped us to understand his work, but would have risked restricting himself.
It goes without saying that he innovated categorically, participating in the regeneration of plastic arts: mixes of collages, paintings and drawings; rejuvenating collage by cutting out magazine photos; following baroque principles of repetition-variations and by pasting paint fragments on cloth or on drawings; passing with ease from painting to collage on the same substrate; reliquaries that integrate his whole work; paintings and objects… Le paths he seems to follow in parallel are enriched by each other, often almost merging together.
None of these formal inventions came for free. Painting was almost orgasmic for him and his modesty and fear of complacency made him apprehensive. It was mostly a path towards learning: a search for his internal physical and intellectual reality, a raw introspection which was more often painful than joyful (May 1968 hadn’t yet occurred); confrontation with the waste of consummation; of the “trois glorieuses” that he recycled, integrating paintings and reliquaries in his collages; also confronting the risk of being cloistered by the instrumental and reductive communication which had begun spinning its spider’s web. His drawings ended in illegible writings.
In fact, Réquichot, fighting for his freedom, refused any imprisonment. Is this one reason why he jumped out of a window on the eve of a major exhibit?
Discovering Réquichot offers the opportunity to revisit the art of the 1950’s in a less hexagonal, more international manner. The comparison with two recognized artists from the American West coast: Jay DeFéo and Bruce Conner, is striking. Their works were created during the same period, and they didn’t even know each other. This underlines the depth and roots of their approach.
Réquichot has more to offer us and undoubtedly to the young artists of our time.