In this return to figuration and storytelling, two fundamental attitudes can therefore be distinguished.
On the one hand, the figurative image is itself taken as an object of the creative process: through processes of decomposition, accumulation, etc., its constitutive laws, syntactic structures, thresholds of legibility and so on are analyzed: in short, it is all a rhetoric or, better still, a semiotics of the image that is being processed. Among the exponents of this first trend, which we could call formalist, we can mention: P. Stömpfli (born in 1937), whose gigantic images of car tires or other artefacts of the technological society are based, in their emphatic character, to the language of advertising posters; Erro (born in 1932), whose processes of accumulating and gluing heteroclite images, drawn from the most disparate repertoires, the most prestigious as the most trivial, they neutralize its connotations, immersing them in a sort of perpetual motion, which is that of today’s civilization of images; Télémaque (born in 1937), whose emblematic figures of everyday objects are inspired on the one hand, in the way they join each other, by the surrealist technique, and on the other, in their extremely essential cut, by the comics aesthetics; J. Kermarrec (born in 1939), for whom, similarly, the comics aesthetics; J. Kermarrec (born in 1939), for whom, similarly, the comics aesthetics; J. Kermarrec (born in 1939), for whom, similarly, the tableau becomes a table, a plane on which to arrange the elements of a knowledge torn apart. For everyone, what matters is not so much the immediate order of the things described, but the remote order of the discourse that can be made about them: the relations that connect them, even in the absence of a sense given a priori to the different elements. which are thus placed in relation. On the other hand, Cremonini’s language remains more classic with its effects of redundancy, reflections and echoes.
On the other hand, the image is used, on the contrary, in a transitive function, it is a means of narration. According to Extrareference, this can be personal, even intimate. The work of J. Monory (born in 1934), for example, develops almost like an album of souvenir photos, screen images, real or ghostly souvenirs, to which the blue monochrome gives an appearance of total unreality.. In his most recent production, the image becomes more obsessive, escaping solitary rumination to open up to concerns of a more social nature, as in the Premiers numéros du catalog mondial des images incurables (1974). The work of G. Gasiorowski (born in 1930), with its gray monochrome, is the fixation of lived moments, flashes of consciousness, obsessive reminiscences, as if the canvas were nothing but the residue of a consciousness, the plate sensitive of a mental projection. The coloring is sometimes nostalgic and Proustian, as in Albertine disparue (1974), sometimes sarcastic, as in Les Impuissances (1974). In Velickovic, of Yugoslav origin (born in 1935), the objectivity of the image gives way to the baroque deformations of a graphic style ready to illustrate the most morbid fantasies.
In contrast to this subjective imagery, a political painting has developed which intends to place the image at the service of denouncing the evils of our society. Thus G. Alliaud (born in 1928) develops, under the apparent objectivity of his zoological garden scenes, a work that is placed in a context of critical realism and wants to symbolize the artist’s destiny in society or, more generally., of the alienated man in bourgeois society. With regard to Alliaud, it should be remembered that he, in the company of E. Arroyo and A. Recalcati, was the first to participate in a collective and ‘scheduled’ work, La Fin tragique de Marcel Duchamp (1965), a series of eight canvases which, so he was assured, marked the triumph of the new figuration committed to the line of the “decadent” currents of the informal and anti-art.
Collective and scheduled is also the work of the Coopérative des Malassis which brings together five painters (H. Cueco, Fleury, J.-C. Latil, M. Parré, G. Tisserand) who work together to create immense frescoes of denunciation social. Their main work remains Le Grand Méchoui ou douze ans de politique en France (1972), a series of 45 canvases, a typical expression of an art in which the use of mass symbols and allegories is all aimed at critical ends and in which, evidently, the problems of formal success are subordinated to propaganda objectives.
Equally sarcastic, but dictated this time by a humor no longer red but black, in the anarchic sense of the term, is the figuration of the painters of the Panique group, who carry out on a plastic level the same intentions that, in cinema or theater, characterize the work of artists such as Jodorowsky and Arrabal. From the fantastic cruelty of Roland Topor (born in 1938), to the delightful nonsense of Olivier O. Olivier (born in 1931) and the visual calembours of C. Zeimert (born in 1934) unfolds the whole disturbing universe, proper to the ” homme Panique “.