Artwork Analysis > To the discovery of a work by Michel Macréau

To the discovery of a work by Michel Macréau

Michel Macréau, « Portrait », 1965, oil on canvas, 33 x 18.5


One would say chalk on slate, or a Cretan pottery on a black background.  This portrait floats silently in time.  It appears well balanced since the lines surrounding it are placed on the two underlined M’s that the artist often uses as a signature during this period. A cross in the center firmly underlines the flow which agitates the face.

Very soon however, we see that the work is more complex than its economy of means could lead one to think.  It is apparently stable, but it sways.

Full lines, others made up of dots cross each other. The three organs that rhythm every portrait, symbolize of course the absorption of food, hearing, seeing, as indicated by the arrow, the door to enter from the exterior to the interior.  Yet, the hypnotic regard floats like a moon fish in a lake. It absorbs a sleeping world as well as it expresses what agitates it.   

Is this falsely harmonious portrait in profile or facing forward?  It seems to push the limits of the frame as if the artist felt oppressed.

Tears fall from above the cross, which is omnipresent in this picture. A single color is introduced, red, that of blood, of life, or could that oblique arrow not also indicate the combat that Macréau continues to wage for his painting…  No doubt it is just as much his internal contradictions, as it is the artistic constraints of his period that Macréau hopes to loosen up.