"Boxing" by Richard Peduzzi and Cecilia Trombadori.
At first hand, Jérôme Lagarrigue seems to fully reveal his infinitely complex and yet infinitely simple nature. His roots are composite: he is French and American, his education and spirit roaming freely between two continents. He owes his artistic sensibility to his father, Jean Lagarrigue, whose work is a great influence. The two now seem to be passing the torch back and forth, Jerome in return influencing his father, with whom he shares a fascination for what lies in the depths of a man’s glance. Everything in his painting becomes tinged with humanity, the walls of the Coliseum seemingly turning and revolving around themselves, much like the Earth itself. In the manner of a tightrope walker, Jérôme is constantly seeking out the balance and bond linking the different origins emanating from him, which dance to the sound of swing or be-bop and can be sensed as much in his vision as in his way of moving, speaking, observing, painting and portraying the world. Perhaps it is this internal rhythm that guides him along, bringing his soul’s temperaments together in harmony, the various viewpoints livening his gaze and assembling the vivid identity that is his, which far from being artificial and contrived is revealed to us as something quite straightforward, natural and spontaneous.
The paintings created by Jerome during his stay at the Villa Médicis in 2006 were the result of his study of the human face, and more particularly that which resides in the eyes of men, in relation to the architecture and the geography of the urban landscape; he roamed the city of Rome and the Romans’ faces, tamed them through his hypnotic movements, painted their portraits. The Villa and the city were somewhat of a live working laboratory to him, a constant source of inspiration, creation and freedom of expression. The result was stunning; larger-than-life sized portraits and landscapes, each containing several paintings within, each piece part of a larger ensemble of work and yet all stemming from a different perspective: the emphasizing of light or of shadow, of depth perception or color, blurredness here and contrast there… he seems to want to gather together all possibilities in one single solution, constantly approaching and then backing away from his subject as if to better grasp it, searching for everything in a detail and the detail in everything, practically physically confronting his subject as if to possess it while constantly maintaining eye contact, as if in dance, or even and precisely so, in combat. To never let one’s guard down, to never look away, to scrutinize the opponent’s slightest of moves in order to guess his/her thoughts, emotions, weaknesses as well as the forces that will him/her to exist.
This may be the origin of the new series of paintings that Jérôme will be showing in his Parisian exhibition. It’s as if his search, which during his stay at the Villa Médicis was still in an exploratory phase and moving in different directions of attraction and sanctum, has finally found its true course and a more defined objective. He seems to have taken a step back from the heart of the action, no longer residing in the midst of combat, his perspective having changed to that of invisible and privileged spectator to the most intimate and hidden moments, and movements. Jérôme’s vision has moved closer to the subject at hand, poring over passing glances, perceiving and transcribing a pause for breath, the variations of heat emanating from the flesh, as well as the feelings that bring it to life. There is once again the longing to penetrate the canvas’ space and render it accessible as well as vibrant, as if the image itself isn’t enough on its own to satisfy his desire for understanding and portrayal, as if he wants to incorporate other possibilities to the painting such as theater or film. We are constantly penetrated by the intense and even violent passion of his work, the faces’ and shoulders’ features, his touch and workmanship as well as his choice of colors and very unique way of “framing” his subjects, extremely forthright and often stark and brutal. And yet, there is always a strong sense of tenderness and goodness in his paintings, feelings that resemble his true nature. In the depth of his own eyes can be found an element of surprised and sincere curiosity, detailed attention to and a particularly profound respect for that which, and those whom he paints. Far from conveying the rambunctious animality of hand-to-hand combat, he chooses to transmit a spare and silent image, just like the memories one has of a dream: the detail of a wounded eye, the white of a towel against a dark nape, the choreography of two souls facing each other in the dark: breathless and tense, fastened together, skin on skin.
The day he presented his work to the Academy of France in order to become a resident, Jérôme was smiling; a powerful yet light physical energy, also to be found in jazz musicians, dancers and boxers, sprang from within him.
Jerome Lagarrigue was born August 1973 in Paris, France. He studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received his BFA in 1996.