Maurice Estève (1904 - 2001)
"Everything has already been invented, Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstraction. Great elders reign supreme and, without wanting it, double-locked the door. Respected, popular, idolized, we only see them. Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky, Vlaminck, Derain, Van Dongen, Bonnard, Léger... What is remaining ? All of them naturally worked on Surrealism, Cubism, but what will be the point of doing Cubism nowadays while even creators get away from it ? Maurice Estève is conscious of the difficulties to find new directions, but he irremediably feels attracted by painting, it guides his days and nights. To find his path, he will have to draw away of movements and in a way reject the painters he admires the most. He knows he has to break off all ties, leave the crutches and the sweet security of models, without even looking backwards. His destiny is at this prix, in this danger, in the company of his most private and secret self. Playing his role inside a civilization in full genesis, still impossible to express, but in which he is convinced that he will find his being. This is necessary as an urgent need, a need to reject the visible world, without destroying it. Compensation to the accessibility to a unknown universe, that he dissimulates behind his own appearances to contact more intimately, more organically with his more external reality, and yet internal. Situated at the heart of things, and so to speak until their plasma, so that to be carried along by the deepest and most unexpected flows.
Free game of forms, primacy of the created thing. Nothing figurative or figured, nothing abstract neither, because the emotion comes from the real, from what the eye of Maurice Estève catches, from what is, but whose envelop hides the essential. The canvas must impose, almost brutal, complete in front of us, and totally efficient. We have to maintain its brightness. To accept the challenge. To let this voice of silence penetrating in us. Conscious that the human kind cannot handle too much reality, Maurice Estève used his canvas to meet his public. He is fully in his work with his strength and his reserve and also his unavoidable need to tell, very frankly, his secrets. The painting is nothing other than a sum of dialectical relations between pure sensations of the spirit and conventional signs.
The 20 works exhibited here, created by Maurice Estève between 1929 and 1938 aren't only historical works. They are simply "adults" paintings that benefited of the freedom, the invention and the risk that only the ephemeral time of the youth enables. Maturity will bring other qualities, other thoughts, other enchantments, but the time of spontaneity will never come back. Géricault, Seurat, Bazille, Bizet in the musical field, Rimbaud in the one of poetry affirm that beauty has no age. Time has no power in this, being known that only the lucid man can create. In 1930, Maurice Estève was a prince in the country of light."
Philippe Le Burgue, « Maurice Estève : peintre de l'intemporel » dans Estève, les années 1930, Éditions Françoise Livinec, 2011.
Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet
Bourges, Musée Estève
Châteauroux, Musée Bertrand
Colmar, Musée d’Unterlinden
Dunkerque, Musée des Beaux-arts
Grenoble, Musée des beaux-arts
Le Havre, Musée des Beaux-arts
Lille, Musée des Beaux-arts
Marseille, Musée Cantini
Metz, Musée d’art et d’histoire
Paris, MNAM, Centre Georges Pompidou
Paris MAM de la ville de Paris
Saint Cyprien, Fondation François et Souza Desnoyer
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Musée Estrine
Tate gallery, London
Art Gallery of new South Wales, Sydney
Musée des Beaux-arts de Liège
National Gallery, Ottawa
Statens Museums for Kunst, Copenhagen
Musée d’art et d’histoire, Luxembourg
Foundation Sonia Henie-Niels Onstad, Hovikodden
Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art, New-York City
Boston University Art Gallery, Boston