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Our "coup de coeur"

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Christian Dotremont

Oui non

Coup de coeur March 2024

Does he deserve to be? Christian Dotremont is a major artist. Along with Asger Jorn, he founded the CoBrA group in 1948, which led to the drafting of the manifesto "La cause est entendue" ("The cause is heard"), a profession of faith that forcefully rejects the enmeshment of art and artists in an artificial theoretical unity. Thanks to the influence of his parents, both in the publishing world, he began writing in his teens (his first poem was published in "Le Petit Vingtième" when he was just 13!).
After discovering Surrealism in 1940 - he was 18 - he decided to send his poem "Ancienne Eternité" to the Belgian magazine "L'invention collective", whose first issue had just been published (only two issues appeared). René Magritte and Raoul Ubac, who founded the bimonthly, were enthusiastic, and the poem was immediately published. Magritte's work particularly fascinated the young man by the relationship between word, image and picture, and the ambiguity with which the artist plays with these three concepts. Christian Dotremont is captivated by words, and above all by their material dimension; for him, words don't just serve to represent things or their meaning, but have a reality of their own.
Christian Dotremont, one of the founders of the Revolutionary Surrealist movement (1947), founded the eponymous magazine. In 1948, he and Jorn created the first spontaneous word-paintings and word-drawings. His friend Jorn died ("I burst into tears," wrote Dotremont. Constant, Appel and Corneille join the movement, and together they continue to experiment with word-paintings, a path that advocates a profound renewal of culture, but also a strong desire for anti-culture, anti-artistic art. Christian Dotremont continues to keep CoBrA alive; he writes: "Someone has to be CoBrA in its authenticity, without personal calculations, with a non-egotistical ambition."

Logograms followed in 1962, and their very first exhibition in 1969. Christian Dotremont invented a new writing system. In this way, he succeeded in combining writing and painting in a single composition. Hence the name "painter of writing". Logograms are spontaneously painted poems that tend to distort the letters of the Latin alphabet. Through the spontaneity of the gesture that informs the ink stroke applied with the brush, the artist succeeds in personalizing the alphabetic script. This approach accentuates the plasticity of scriptural signs. Logograms communicate an expression, an impression, an aesthetic that our neutral handwriting does not. For Christian Dotremont, the writing of the text is as important as the paper on which it will be printed, and we must look as much at the painted text as at the void that surrounds it. The Void is the link between Yin and Yang, the hyphen.
"In short, what I'm doing is exaggerating the natural freedom of writing." writes the artist.

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