Michel Potage

Born in 1949 in Sens, lives and works in Paris

Flowers of War – Paris, December 2002

The emaciated corpses churned up by bulldozers in Alain Resnais’ film Night and Fog represent, for me, an image of absolute horror. The barbed wire around the World War II concentration camps had long turned to rust when these images came to haunt me. Other barbed wire has sprung up since then.

War is raging all over the world. People are fighting, and the innocent are still being massacred.Yet I belong to a generation of Europeans who have been for tunate never to have experienced war except on television or at the cinema.

The sirens used to ring out at noon on Thursdays.

I loved the sound of the sirens in my Parisian courtyard. My mother hated the noise of the sirens. For her, it brought back memories of the war, air raids, running to the shelters.

I adore fireworks; the rhythmic cracks of thunder at firework displays are portents of joy and hope for the future. My parents and grandparents remember the music of the bombs, the sinister and sublime explosions in the sky split apart by murderous streaks of lightning, the anonymous and terrifying bearers of death and suffering.

Michel Potage’s firework-like Flowers of War possess the same paradoxical beauty verg- ing on the sublime. They are grand finales staged in a theater of cruelty.
Flowers of War is a series that transports us to the horrors of the esthetics of war and leads us to the antechamber of peace.

In Michel Potage’s paintings, I see an appeal to a brighter future, a hymn to peace; not the peace of cowards but the peace of all those who are ready to fight and once more shout in the face of history: stop, never again!

Lélia Mordoch

The Studio – Paris, January 2007

The smell of turpentine wafts through the air in Michel Potage’s studio. He’s a real painter of real painting. It’s a delight to find all the relief effects of oils instead of the dazzling colors of acrylic paint. Dark periods alternate with colorful periods in Potage’s work, depending on the painter’s mood, spurts of imagination and life.

When Potage arrives at his studio, the paintings are all turned to the wall. The studio must be thought-free. The objects seem to assume a theatrical glow. The multiplicity of planes is enhanced by the density of the paint.Extremes collide. The canvas spills over into the void. Rain from Paradise.

Quasi-schizophrenic, series after series respond to one another in an autobiographi- cal correspondence in which the self-portrait projects itself into landscapes and still lifes.

Painting, painting… or the highly personal vision of an artist laid bare by his epoch, his sensibility tormented by current events that culminate in an art traditionally supposed to be a pictorial mise en scène.

Lélia Mordoch