Michel Calvet, magician of matter and color

Michel Calvet was born in 1956 in Toulouse, the city in which he spent his youth. After his secondary studies, he attended the School of Fine Arts and led a happy bohemian life, devoting himself to his passions: drawing and music. Calvet plays sax in a group and plans to become a jazz musician, as jazz with its rhythm and its unexpected improvisations fascinate him. During this period of freedom, he then felt an imperative need for creation and it was with painting that he chose to express himself.
From the 1980s, the success of his works allowed him to live solely on his art by exhibiting in Paris and in the provinces. In the mid-90s, after numerous experiments on color and material, he opted for a style that suited him. It is now with the knife that he generously spreads the paint coming out of his tubes to enrich his paintings with powerful impastos which rub shoulders with lighter touches thus emphasizing the originality of his approach.
Many exhibitions will confirm the enthusiasm of the public for its original style. Collectors in the United States, Canada, Japan, Norway, England, Germany and especially in France acquire his painting.
His works regularly go on sale.

"Michel Calvet's current work, more complex than it appears at first glance, is a happy mixture of bold conservatism. Tradition - or quite simply profession - in the balance of the masses, the search for a structured and orderly composition, the use of fatty touches on a lean background, but also boldness of the expressive deformations and the impetuous gesture spreading a rich and colorful.

Calvet is taken by all the shows available to him, the animation of ports, urban activity, parties and music ... while making sketches and noting the colors. He likes to paint in the open air to capture a fleeting scene on the spot and keep track of a magical moment. In his workshop, on the contrary, when a motif obsesses him, he meditates at length before his notes, his drawings and his watercolors, on how to make the sensation felt and always very present. When an image becomes clear and takes shape in his mind, if the emotion is still there, the work begins.
The workshop then becomes a closed place, not silent but invaded by sounds and musical rhythms adapted to the theme of the work.

The painter begins by placing on a huge palette, the contents of about twenty completely empty tubes. This is where experience and especially talent come in, because the use of pure colors, that is to say as they come out of the tubes is extremely difficult.
Calvet is above all a great colorist punctuating his paintings according to his colors, like a musician playing his notes. Its bright colors strike the spectators, not to show the violence of human passions, but to offer slices of simple and happy daily life.
The scenes represented are always figurative even if their sometimes very strong transposition leads to the limits of abstraction.
Calvet poses, scrapes, sometimes removes what he has just posed, covers a scraping, applies a long streak of color, delicately places a few bright points, spreads the material - one should say the light - over a large surface, strongly impairs a precise zone where the trace of the knife remains very apparent, diluted to the point of preserving by transparency the color of the background in certain places. Briefly and feverishly calculated, each application of matter has its reason for being. It is a judgment of the painter on the basis of everything he knows, what he has just done and what he wants to do. Each work is thus the result of rapid decisions, judgments drawn from past experience, reckless novelties.

When he believes he has reached his goal, Michel Calvet stops, exhausted by hours of intense concentration. Still in the emotion of execution, considering that a painting is finished represents the most difficult moment for the artist. One does not imagine all that this last act, the refusal of a last touch which could weaken the work, represents by itself! For Michel Calvet, there is no conceivable repentance: either the work corresponds to what he wanted at the start, or it is destroyed.
In general, the very animated representations reflect a fascination of the artist for human activities.
When the human is absent, the shapes and colors are organized to give in a moving atmosphere, the trawlers at the quay, the yachts at anchor, the piles of nets and traps. Even the still lifes and the flowers seem to take part in the ambient agitation. "

Extracts from texts by Jean PERREAU - Art Historian

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