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The director Richard Nègre is visiting Grand Rapids from June 13 through June 15. He was introduced to Grand Rapids by Chris Portas, artist and owner of the Fire Barn Gallery. The artists met at the Brooklyn Film Festival they both attended in New York. A year and a half ago, Portas moved to Grand Haven and opened his own gallery, the Fire Barn Gallery. “I thought about Richard and invited him to present his project here in Michigan,” says Chris Portas.
Nègre is a down-to-earth artist who grew up surrounded with arts, especially choreography and painting. Nègre learned technical filming production at the prestigious animation school Gobelins in Paris, France, his country of origin. However for Nègre, “the most important tool for an artist is their craft.”
"Looking to strengthen my artistic expression, I took a position at a museum, and my job was to make oil copies for paintings,” says Nègre. The artist worked on his own paintings on the side. After five years of spending a hundred hours of painting, and a studio full of artwork, Nègre experienced the "Aha" moment he refers to as "the switch that birthed the 'One Second Per Day' project." For lack of space, he began experiencing what he described as “suffocating“ in his own housing.
“I felt taken over, almost eaten, by my own paintings,” says Nègre. “At that moment, I got a bulb lighting idea…I started painting on [the remaining free space in my studio] my walls; then I took photos of it everyday.”
The rest is history in the making, “One Second Per Day,” a project that Grand Rapids art institutions are honored to host. The film screening took place on June 14 at the Urban Institue of Contemporary Art Film Theater at 7 p.m., with presentation by Richard Nègre himself. The artist will present the film screening followed by a group conversation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum at 7 p.m. on June 15.
“Painting is contemporary dance; animation is a continuation of painting. The geometric shapes I used for “One Second Per Day” represent Science, Architecture and an obsession with the relation between space and time the artist refers to as miming and timing. The film itself poses the paradoxical question of time relativity, in the context of experience," says Nègre.
“When realizing this film, it was important for me that the public and the artist himself have more choice, time and freedom in the appreciation of art and images. It’s something that I experience through photography and painting,” says Nègre. “I had no storyboard and line test when I realized Une Seconde Par Jour. For me, the most intense moments were seeing the animation play; discovering the product of all the preparation work, from drawing to sequencing, is emotional for me. Have a direction but leave a room for unpredictability and ideas in mind, just as in photography."
The theme of openness is omnipresent in Nègre's work, even to locations and public of choice; Richard Nègre presents to different publics, from artists and art aficionados to students, whether in art galleries or festivals. From such a perspective, it becomes obvious as to why an artist like Richard Nègre gives the opportunity, for anyone interested, to buy original drawings.
Nègre's next project will be an eight-minute animation film the artist refers to as "a poetical proposal, a colorful relationship between the abstract and figurative." His current project is exhibited at the Fire Barn Gallery in Grand Haven, Michigan. Besides Walter Benjamin's philosophy and essays, his greatest influences are his mother, a dance choreographer; his brother, a skillful painter; and last but not least his wife, a Parisian museum architect whom he praises as his number one support.