A PERSISTANT PAINTER, by Frédéric Ferney
That’s becoming rare.
We imagine him under a straw hat, surrounded by bees and
figs, infinitely docile in the gentle slope of his duration.
Nonetheless, Xavier Devaud doesn’t pretend to be Cézanne.
A painter invents nothing, he remembers, he recapitulates, he
renders things more desirable, that’s all.
A few axioms.
Paradise is a garden.
Childhood is a pasture.
Painting is a circle.
What else ?
What we know already but we don’t know that we know, or we
forgot, he shows us, he repeats : everything is here since the
beginning, everything is true, everything begins again.
Only the present moment exists.
What does he paint?
Is it sand, or salt or snow ? And where does this blue captured
in a tress come from? And this carmine that doesn’t exist?
What do his fingers desire?
He doesn’t know.
Nature is a blind body of which he is the eyes and the fingers.
It is they who dream.
And him, what does he want ?
His quest – but also his adventure and his combat – is serene
and without illusion.
It’s a slow force, elaborated, liberated from other preferences of
the crowd, from ordinary clamor and false images.
A work – Devaud works every day like a pastor or a peasant!
A joy that remains humble, fragile, not given but reconquered
An attentive perseverance, a hunch and a confession of mute
dignity, inherent in everything.
More than matter, the painter Devaud renders substance
tangible: what remains when all escapes, when it flows, when it
What persists after an accident.
Ochre, black, with a hint of sky we glimpse as if it was already
White shadows and foretellings.
The beauty of a foreign woman enhanced by her smile.
The nude and shriveled torso of an old man who seems to wear
his skull like a hat.
We might fear to be estranged from reality if only because
Devaud embellishes whatever he touches but it is exactly the
reverse: we were never closer.
He never gets away from it.
We must distance ourselves from reality because Devaud
beautifies what he touches, no, he never ceases to retouch.
In truth, he never stops.
Each canvas returns to itself, for its own sake, as if Devaud
designed a scale of sounds, a range, as if he insistently
strummed the chords.
His subject, is painting.