Godon outside our walls
- Dated: March 2018
- Media: Les Echos
Godon outside our walls
hen an ex-Touquettois welcomes a Touquettois, together they are then going to take us to the ends of the world.
They had worked together 18 years ago. At that time Alain Godon was already “doing” Godon and Patrice Deparpe was the director of a museum a little more modest than that of Le Cateau-Cambrésis. Through their love of art, both of them have pursued their own paths; they have grown, they have evolved.
As a point of fact, Patrice Deparpe left the museum in Le Touquet in 2010 for the Matisse Museum, taking over as director three years later.
Meanwhile Godon has never returned to painting his “Figures of the Century”, replacing it with his enduring heady passion — New York, his inspiration for a long time now. Architecture, from which his love of drawing originates, has enabled him to become a “bankable” product.
Today Godon is The French Contemporary Artist who sells the most and at the highest prices. However, that’s not enough for his friend Patrice Deparpe!
For someone who crosses continents with the aim of exploding the beauty of Matisse’s works for the whole world to see, Godon is still keeping back a lot in reserve. Of that he is convinced. In 2015, and to stretch him even further, Patrice Deparpe suggested that he put his name next to that of Matisse in the form of a big exhibition. Like Henri Matisse, Godon adores colour and travel. Like him, he sketched the “Big Apple”. Like him, he would soon go to Tahiti. The theme was already in place.
A LITTLE CORNER FOR AN UMBRELLA IN EXCHANGE FOR A CORNER OF PARADISE
So, Alain Godon, who 10 years previously had chosen England as his home, left behind the surrounding greyness for a few months so that he could hold out his hands and touch the light. Blue, orange, green, yellow, violet, pink: whatever, it’s everywhere, brilliant at any time of day and night. And then there’s the flora and, even more so, the fauna. These flying fish and giant turtles that he could go and watch every day. Nevertheless, Godon did but few sketches and took only photographs whilst he was there. Because, like Matisse, Godon had to “digest” this journey in order to understand in which direction to take it. There are no buildings, no structures in Tahiti to give perspective, so he has had to resort to other things. These have come in a more substantial form. Soon after his return, he plunged into his sculpting — flying fish born of stainless steel and bronze… squirrels, the American eagle and buildings too! He also started to work with cardboard. Wood, as well, to create this crazy pop-up scene. And then there’s the taxi, another flying one, straight from the world of Harry Potter, taking us from New York to Tahiti at a click of the fingers – of course ‚the Touquettois see a touch of the Paris-Plage Tower there. In point of fact, this taxi washed up on a beach in paradise is his donation to the museum!
Not homage but veneration!
Oscar Wilde wrote “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness”. It was never in question that Godon would produce but a pale imitation in deference to Matisse’s work. Not at all, his references to him are much more subtle; he reads him between the lines. Take the chasubles of the priests standing in front of St Patrick’s cathedral … but, you need to know beforehand that Matisse actually created the vestments for the priests when he designed the Rosary Chapel in Vence. The same goes for his series of eight deckchairs — Matisse drew deckchairs, so Godon had some made by the Tapestry Royale of Aubusson. There is yet another reference to Matisse when he worked as a weaver and Godon paints onto silk squares… But more than anything, Godon and Matisse share the playground together — Matisse can be found in nearly all of Godon’s canvases and if he isn’t there, then there is a reference to him!
In order to achieve this result, Godon has worked on the exhibition for three years, and the team at the museum for two months. Three years during which the artist has put aside any monetary considerations and has spilled his guts out. Worry not; his work is still instantly accessible; Godon speaks from the heart with no other agenda than to spread a little bit of happiness. The exhibition reads like a cartoon comic strip, but some of the captions sparkle more than others without you noticing.
This is indeed the case when he takes us to Central Park. He is reconnecting with street art, with his work both on pavements and on walls, as when he first started out on the pavements of Paris and of Brighton… The rain often helped him to understand the ephemeral nature of art. This is put very nicely in “Dreams are the Prerogative of the Poor”. Here he puts himself on stage in front of the Guggenheim trying to make a few bucks by selling his paintings, “Nanou”, his soul mate, his partner, is urging him to live the dream, because perhaps he too one day will have an exhibition in a major museum. And today that has happened — carte blanche from the Matisse Museum, which is clearly going to open up the field of possibilities for the future….
“Before the exhibition, I was accused of currying favour with a friend, my perfect riposte is that Matisse’s family have loved Alain’s work” — Patrice Deparpe, Director of the Matisse Museum
Two weeks “extra”
Initially scheduled to run from 14 October to 4 March, the exhibition has been so successful that the museum has managed to extend it for 14 more days. With over 22,000 visitors to date, Patrice Deparpe’s bet has paid off: to attract an audience that wouldn’t normally cross the museum’s threshold. Godon has completely annihilated that! 8 paintings, 49 drawings, 10 sculptures, 96 BildoReliefos and 5 installations later, everyone leaves with a sense of satisfaction of an amazing journey… For once Paradise has become a reality, you can almost touch it! “The Architecture of Dreams” has succeeded in seducing the most well-informed of connoisseurs and art collectors, as well as Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs and family. Playful, moving, electrifying, the exhibition can be seen until 18 March.
Questions to …. Alain Godon, artist
“It feels as though I’ve graduated with honours”
The exhibition is nearly over and will soon be dissembled, what’s going to happen to it?
Nothing, it’s an exhibition that is purpose-made for the Matisse museum and it connects entirely to that place and that place alone. That’s the ephemeral side of art… What I can however say is that I have loved working with Patrice Deparpe again; he was totally in tune with me, he knew when to refocus me and we are very much on the same wavelength.
There has been an enormous number of visitors, each and every one ecstatic, even the critics, how have you taken this?
It’s honestly quite crazy. I have had some really good write-ups, met some wonderful people, the Deputy Director of the Louvre Museum has travelled here and I’ve even been praised by a body of critics, I can’t believe it. To exhibit at the Matisse museum is like getting my school certificate, but to have won the approval and the congratulations of Matisse’s family, then that’s really graduating with honours!
Is this going to change anything in your career?
It’s too early to say, but this inevitably puts my work under the spotlight. I’m one of those artists who have come out unscathed thanks to the internet. I’m not a fashionable artist; I’ve steered my own course and no more. In any case, I’ve no wish to change; I don’t want people to stand in front of my works for hours on end asking themselves what hidden messages lie there. I use a code that everyone understands. I trade in colour, museums are like sweet shops and I just want to carry on making people happy.
Are you planning any other exhibitions?
Yes, in April in Le Touquet at the Milani Gallery (the opening night is on 14 ed.) and on 7th and 8th December at the Markowicz Fine Art Gallery in Miami. I will be back with new surprises!