” Nobody knew. It was out of darkness, out of my darkness”


One winter morning, around twenty-five years ago, Charlotte Rampling observes her husband, Jean-Michel Jarre, painting an abstract painting in the glass roof of their house in Croissy, in the Yvelines. The sun is playing through the blinds, an empty day is coming, she says to him: “I would like to do things with my hands. » He answers : ” Go ahead ! » At the time, the actress never painted or drew. She who devotes a respect to crushing masters, Pierre Soulages or Alberto Giacometti, is paralyzed by the white canvas. His first drawings are “hopelessly childish”. But she persists. Christmas passes, then the month of January, Charlotte Rampling persists on the same small board coated with white paste, spreading the fingers of heaps of paint. It experiments with the primary spectrum, abandons it – “the colors were screaming” –, then shifts to darker and darker greens, blues, and grays. Hazy hues, burnt sienna and deep blacks end up imposing themselves.

“But still nothing came of it, remembers the actress, SO I started scratching, scratching more and more furiously. I let myself be guided by I don’t know what, I knew something was going to happen. » By dint of rubbing the fibers of the canvas with the thumb and the flat of the hand, a figure appeared, an almost human silhouette, transparent, faceless, “something very psychological, linked to my inner world”. “The figure emerged from matter after resisting for a long time and I could no longer erase it”, explains Charlotte Rampling. After this appearance, she continued to coat and rub small wood fiber panels always of the same size, 50 centimeters by 45. “As obsessed, I returned to it constantly. I manipulated the material to meet the genius that could come out. »

Since that winter at the end of the 1990s, around thirty silhouettes have thus appeared. ” Nobody knew. It had come out of the darkness, of my darkness, I was keeping the secret. » Each painting, neither signed nor titled or dated, is a piece of his universe. “A sense of ghost”, as she defines it in her mother tongue. A ghost feeling… “I was always told that there was mystery in me, I called it. Twenty-five years ago, something put me on this path and I haven’t strayed anymore. I did not become a painter, I am accompanied by painting. »

Obsessive and confidential

The public will discover its “painted reliefs” in the basement of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, from April 14 to September 10, 2023, on the occasion of the setting up of a new exhibition in the contemporary permanent collections called “Parallel Worlds”. No red carpet for the 77-year-old actress, drowned among seven more or less well-known artists. All have an atypical and solitary trajectory, outside of any artistic movement. Hélène Garache, 94, has worked behind the scenes all her life and is exhibiting her terracottas for the first time. Marie Bourget, who died in 2016, left a conceptual sculptural work of which the Museum of Modern Art owns a good part.

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