Pierre Malachin

« Eros’s Tears », may 2012

Evidently Marc Molk’s paintings put us into an uncomfortable and almost anachronistic feeling of romanticism stemming from a state of upheaval. Indeed, this self-taught artist paints unchanging, universal subjects: death, war, the possibility and impossibility of loving, friendship, themes which continue to extend beyond the academicism of art history.

These subjects are, however, merely pretexts for the unfurling of Marc Molk’s unique pictorial universe in which we find pastels intermingled at random with vivid colours, traditional techniques with virtuoso technical inventions, and pared-down compositions with baroque ones.

Here subjects appear – or disappear – from the canvas, seem to float, evolve weightlessly or in a fluid as if caught in a choreographic pose. What offers itself up before our eyes clearly brings to mind romanticism or fantasy, but it is far more on the side of sentimentality that this universe of out-of-the-ordinary daydreams situates us. This sentimentalism is of the same ilk that Arnaud Labelle-Rojoux has been able to hone in on and formulate.

Of course, we are dealing with the question of painting here, of the medium’s specificity and the aura it engenders, its diverse forms and intrinsic specificity: the passage of matter of some sort and a liquid state into a solid matter set in time and in space in equal measure. It is precisely in these body-state transformations – represented otherwise on the surface of the canvas – that the unfurling of Marc Molk’s works is to be found. Painting that likens us to the drying of tears, forgotten memories that come back to the surface only to fade away into the noiselessness of the painting, confined within the limits of the picture. Marc Molk is a painter who is unafraid of beauty: he heads off in search of it from one painting to the next, carried along by what the reality of the world or intimacy brings him. Rather like those love tragedies of the past that are as uncomfortable for us to remind ourselves of as they are for us to erase them from our memory, his works thus become testimonies to feelings experienced during such-and-such an event in our everyday lives or the times we live in. The fluidity of the painting set in place by the drying effect of time is turned into, via transfiguration, the intimist, discreet biography of the artist himself.

The contemporary nature of Marc Molk’s painting is in this virtuoso alchemy in the measuring out of pigments, gestures, together with the mastery of the chance elements that emanate from painting. It is this which allows us to grasp a state of things or the world.

The allying of this virtuosity to the subjects represented, these silent, inaccessible witnesses to an instant in time, puts us in a position of a feeling of deep sensitivity or balance, and the force of reason that our era carries with it wavers in favour of giving in to contemplation, however antiquated it may be. However, it is here where the conditions necessary to appreciating the artist’s paintings are to be found, in this much mused upon maelstrom between eroticism and death, this interplay between elements that emerge and those that disappear, whether they be resolutely wished for or wilfully forgotten. Marc Molk’s approach as an artist is to be found here.

(translated from french by Jonathan Waite)

This text has been published in the Catalogue of the 57th edition of the Salon de Montrouge (2012) :

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