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

To the discovery of a work by Michel Macréau

Michel Macréau, «  Couple », 1964, India ink on paper, 51 x 37 cm


A couple embracing, joined as one, occupies almost all of the pictorial surface. The space is saturated in a poetic accumulation of elements which are sometimes realist, sometimes imaginary or dreamlike.

One cannot easily distinguish the woman from the man in the drawing, even though the artist has slipped in several indications to orient our reading. We thus remark the chest of the person on the left, a ring on her ear, as well as a little flower which could symbolize the female sex.  This person smokes a cigarette whose smoke links her to the person on the right.  Her long sinuous arm tenderly embraces the face of her lover.

The artist isn’t looking for likeness but rather feeling and suggestion.  The interaction between the characters forms an embrace, making the work a sort of personification of love between two beings.

The lexical field of love is, in fact, omnipresent: a pierced heart in the lower right angle of the composition is the very symbol of love.  The flowers can be regarded as a sign of life, of renewal, of fertility.

At the same time, the artist expresses the complexity of amorous sentiment.  The person on the right looks at the one on the left, whereas that one also looks to the left, hiding from the eyes of his (or her?) companion. We can guess that towards the bottom center of the composition, a sign evoking a scar, designates the wounds that unrequited love can bring.

The artist seems finally to show the ambivalence between the cheerfulness and sometimes the suffering in the sentiment of love.  But the interpretation is not motionless, it is lively, just as the drawing that seems to come alive under our eyes.  The spectator is called upon to give his own interpretation of the scene, in accordance with his own experience of the couple, of love and of life.

A complex softness emanates from this drawing, a summary of the couple, where the very detailed pictorial writing invites us to constantly look into it and to decipher it.