1972 - Georges Yatridès, a painter of future memories

Documentary by Daniel Danneyrolles


Video translation

Presenter: “Georges Yatridès was born in Greece and has lived in Grenoble for over 48 years although he is not well known in France. Even so, over 300 of his works were sold in the United States of America, where Yatridès is regarded as a unique painter and a pure individuality presenting a point of view. René Char described him as a “painter outside the tumult”. His approach was associated with De Chirico’s, even Dali’s, but Georges Yatridès shares neither the first’s metaphysical anguish or the latter’s exhibitionism. The painter responds to another problem, a personal response to Gauguin’s questions: “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” In order to attain this response, almost engraved in each of his works, Yatridès had to follow a tormented, passionate and painstaking path. As exuberant a path as it might seem, it proved totally intransigent. This meant imposing on himself a life of renunciation. Taking the easy way out, therefore, was impossible, and he had to opt out on conventionalism and pseudo- modernism. Yatridès wants to paint for his own time, even for tomorrow. Ranked as one of the best painters in the art stream of the 20th Century, Yatridès had to move away from its influence in 1963. This means renouncing, once again, only this time he renounced a colourful atmosphere and the use of outlines as a way to create volume. Yatridès, on the contrary, strives to master a colourful space and bring harmony to the whole painting by saturating the light in every plane and creating volumes without resorting to the use of shadings. The furrows, etched in the paint itself spread the exterior light. Thus, one can better realize the heart-wrenching renunciations that Yatridès had to endure in order to surpass himself, almost on the verge of self-denial, for the sake of going against the current, he who had given in to the Fauvism’s spontaneous expression in a joyful, violent manner around the 1950s. Sasha Bourmeyster, his long-time friend and constant witness of his creative evolution analyzes the pictorial universe of Georges Yatridès.

Sasha Bourmeyster: “I think that presently, truthfully, Yatridès has acquired an extraordinary technique that few present-day painters possess. It has been roughly ten years since he mastered and fully enjoyed his paintings and that has evidently transformed his personality. If you will, this kind of fulfilment that he attains through his art manifests itself in his behaviour. When you contemplate a painting such as Ezekiel, you can only feel admiration, although this admiration is somewhat mixed with questions. This work fascinates but it is hard to know why. Now, one should take this painting and progressively unveil it because some kind of question and answer game occurs at each moment in the representation of Ezekiel, the wall of Jerusalem or this lifeless, bare and empty landscape. There is an array of elements that, when pieced together, show the history of painting as imagined by Yatridès. Because, apart from his painting, he is primarily an erudite person. He is not the kind that shuts himself away in some naive art and lets his heart rule. He would never want this. For him, that would be an outright abomination. What Georges Yatridès’s painting stands for is quite the opposite: it is essentially a universal, encyclopaedic spirit immersed in all sorts of fields of knowledge such as religion, history and pictorial techniques, with an interest for the development of sciences. I am not saying that he creates science-fiction. Rather, he is interested in the evolution of humanity, the future of our society. This is why we could use Yatridès’s work to run a semeiological analysis that would be diachronic – that is to say a history of painting, of temptations that confronted painters in such and such area, that they more or less assimilated, more or less accepted or rejected, and then Georges Yatridès’s attitude towards each element, thwarting the traps of mediocrity, subjectivity, of what has been done and then providing a personal response. People who view his paintings might have answers or opposite opinions but a close inspection reveals that Yatridès has already found the answers to questions that the audience and connoisseurs alike have yet to ask or have asked clumsily. He is ahead of the game, if you will. In this, his work might seem a hermetically sealed world but it is absolutely not a closed world, on the contrary. Georges Yatridès wishes to call out to the world and speak with his public.

Presenter: “Georges Yatridès wanted to express himself through colours. He soon realized that they alone could not provide the light. He then set about painting with lines – a mere graphic exercise –which he abandoned out of dissatisfaction. Nonetheless, Yatridès’s instinct tells him that in order to master the light, he had to organize his painting around the lines, which he calls “his personal grammar”.

Yatridès: I had to get past all that. I had to get past the lines first, which is the source of all science so that I could then access the true material, get past paper, a material that risks damage, could disappear in civilizations to come, dissolve and return to dust. I needed to find materials that would stand the test of time. Furthermore, through this visual design that I wanted to be self-sufficient, without shadings, where lines create volume, that is to say creating volume only with lines, I needed the material to set me free, and create this self-sufficient light, capable of existing even in the absence of shadings. This light that comes from the sun exists even if no object gets in its way. Therefore, this liberation is complete and allows me to depict a major part of Man’s adventure while restoring bygone values.”

Presenter: At first this painting leaves you puzzled: women, children, still lifes in a lifeless setting.

Yatridès: “Here, some mountains have erupted out of a vitrified surface. They are still warm. I want to show you that the planet’s subsoil is still boiling with life and that it is meant to survive no matter what. However, the planet itself looks vitrified because Man subjugated it and sucked it dry. Thus, obviously, there remains no trace of vegetation. On the other hand, the subjugation

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