So we heighten the objects into symbols


Between 1978 -1984 Herve Constant produced painting after painting, yet within a year of his first sojourn in painting, he was painting in a completely different and new way. By a process of deliberation and control the body of his paintings were carefully composed.

One sees how an artist gradually moves through different phases, from figurative to abstraction and back again.

The wild, though expertly handled colours of his abstractions can be read as joyful evocations demonstrating an artist’s virtuosity, but really, they are another mode of expressing his own personal anguish. The vision of the world which he has to offer is peculiar to himself, despite its borrowing from the French past. It is a vision in which the individual is battered about by society and thereafter left to fend for himself.

The human beings in Herve Constant’s painting often look as if they have been carved out of wood with rather blunt knife, the woman turns warily to the wall, the woman turns warily to the man, the man is surrounded by invisible bars, the window is extended outwards. Certain objects have long been recognised for what they symbolise and pass from age as accepted counters. The snake, fire, wine, and bread may be given as examples.

Herve Constant seeks deliberately to create valid symbols or make use of both abstract and concrete symbols. In his paintings he insists on using the window, ladder, and bird.

There is a sort of subdued pandemonium in the air, a note of repressed violence, as the awaited explosion requires the advent of some utterly minute details, something completely unexpected. In a room designed to receive the warmth of two lovers, we find two empty chairs or perhaps the shadows of the two empty chairs. Everything is endured, disgrace, humiliation, poetry, war… in the belief that overnight something will occur a miracle which will render life tolerable. By means of the symbols. Herve Constant defined his situation in generality, he re-establishes his being in the world. Although he has been painting seriously for five years, his talent has enabled him to translate the blue depths of feelings.

Some of his paintings are full, without exception, of the strange childlike figures reminiscent, of the work of Paul Klee which merge and merge with a confusing complexity of character. Or are they Miro’s “Carnival of Harlequin” and “The Hunter”? William Rubin lately identified no fewer than 58 specific local references in what is basically “An image of a peasant hunting in the Catalan countryside”.

Like every modern artist, Herve Constant is trying to be individualist, realising at the same time how difficult is such attempt.

What does he want to achieve?

An art in which harmony emerges from an iridescent shimmer of colours, colours which belong not to any scene in nature, but to a world of unconscious fantasy.

Out of nothingness arises the sign of infinity.

A new way is dawning, a metallurgical day.

Haifa Zangana (Melmoth Magazine October 1984) London


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