“Nicolas de Staël, the fury of painting”: The crossing of a life, in words and in painting



Nicolas de Staël, the fury to paint

Directed by Bruno Abraham-Kremer

Au Lucernaire, Paris (1)

How to talk about painting in the theater? How, above all, to evoke the universe of Nicolas de Staël, this painter of incandescent colors, vibrant light, thick flat areas, “Of the red sea, the yellow sky, the purple sands” ? A challenge taken up by Bruno Abraham-Kremer who chose to embody the artist – he also signs the staging – and to unfold his journey through a choice of letters taken from his correspondence with gallery owners, relatives, friends… Georges Braque , but especially René Char with whom the painter will establish, between 1951 and 1954, an enthusiastic and intense dialogue and who will entrust him with the illustration of his collection Poems.

Under his ardent and poetic pen, willingly tinged with a melancholy or playful humor, Nicolas de Staël evokes his difficult beginnings – signing “Hungry greetings”, claiming from collector Jean Bauret “Money for God’s sake, money as soon as possible” or ” sheets “ to his father-in-law… – revealing over time and with growing success a complex, passionate, skittish personality, totally devoted to a work that haunted him.

A three-voice dialogue

Dressed in dark, his hands in his pockets, Bruno Abraham-Kramer wanders between huge white hanging panels on which are projected paintings by Nicolas de Staël: footballers, landscapes of Sicily, Luberon, the portrait of Jeanne… A sober performer and inhabited, its reading is punctuated by the clashing chords of Hubertus Biermann’s double bass and the hypnotizing keyboard of Jean-Baptiste Favory, which also give him the answer, embodying who René Char, who the gallerist Jacques Dubourg. A dialogue in three voices to evoke this tormented genius, demanding and visionary, his travels, his meetings, his friendships, his loves, happy and unhappy, with the three women of his life, Jeannine, Françoise and Jeanne, up to his big jump from the top of his studio in Antibes one night in March 1955 …

“My painting I know what it is under these appearances, its violence, its perpetual games of force: it is a fragile thing in the sense of the good, the sublime, it is fragile like love”, wrote Nicolas de Staël in December 1954 to Jacques Dubourg.

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