Texts / Everyday Heroism
Constancy in Jean-Rémy Papleux’s work leads to various trajectories that are to be followed.
First, there is an onward come and go between photography, painting and drawing.
Postures remain the same. Teenage or young female attitudes and gazes call out to the viewer – including some sort of distress. Here are the portraits of lonely characters standing on an (almost) empty stage – but full of light. Within the same momentum lies his video work, whose slow motion and light saturation convey a series of moving portraits, inevitably calling for music. The range becomes wide. The concern is deep. The risk is permanent. Lights and harmonies are gathered for a tragic joust.
Who are these young characters, models and teenagers looking for their fate? « I ask my relatives to become my models. They are friends or acquaintances. », Jean-Rémy Papleux says. The search is more philosophical than psychological. It is more metaphysical than narrative. It goes far beyond a series of personal accounts and individual suffering so as to strongly shout at us about a certain form of everyday heroism. This is the one of young people facing their fate – to say, the fleeing fate, or rather the everyday tragedy questioning the most essential issues of life (God, future, separation, termination) through the revealed figure, without being blurred by contemporary stereotypes. It reminds us of Zarathoustra calling for his peers – the human beings of the present time: “Sincerely, you could not wear better masks than your own faces…”
« My painting involves the constraints of formal criteria, such as light for instance. », Jean-Rémy Papleux states. It is interesting to notice that for the Ancient Geek tragic dramatists, the term « dîos » just means « divine », like a “Zeus’ attribute”. Then, it simply derives to its Judaeo-Christian meaning of “creator god”. But during the Homeric times, “dîos” initially means “bright, sparkling”, then “glorious”. When the adjective is added to the Homeric characters, it does not emphasize their divine aspect, but it highlights the brightness and the splendour that accompany them, towards whom they stand out. Here come Jean-Rémy Papleux’s characters, in the same way. They do not stand out within brightness or glory, but through cold light, undistinguished sky and light abyss. May they be happy, or unhappy, his solitary characters appear like standards assorted with intricate necessity. They please themselves with the splendour of everyday heroism.
Professor at L’École Supérieure d’Arts de Metz
Author of Zarathoustra-Bouddha, vers un lexique commun, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2004.