Daniël Grassagliata

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Some artists are difficult to classify. With his large format monochrome paintings, Daniel Grassagliata has been exploring to its last extremity the tension between light content and the act of painting. His quest for light and rhythm through a single colour RED, has brought him experiment with the temporal aspects of his passionate intercourse, using repetition of the same moves digging in wear and tear as well as with the genesis of the canvas as a support (tearing, knots, strips etc.). All of them leaving the viewer with the vibrant emotion of the unknown that the artist has undertaken to explore the invisible order un the apparent chaos, the tension of life in solid matter, the reach for infinity in one singular monochrome.
Born on April 9, 1948 in Paris, Daniel Grassagliata lived and worked in France, in Marigny-les-Usages, near Orleans, since 1989. Even before graduating in Plastic Arts as well as in Chinese which he speaks fluently, has started drawings his first designs in Psychedelic Art. In this early years, his interest concentrated on wash-drawing paintings, collages and cut-out figures as well as photograph overprinting on recuperated paper. His first exhibits took place in Gallery Dunkan (University of Paris VI) as well as in the Cultural Centre of Avignon. Then, the Art of Posters appealed to him when he met the Cameroon writer, Paul Dakeyo. To denounce the system of apartheid in South Africa, he realized a poster representing the ANC leader, Steeve Biko in the cell. This piece eventually brought him his first international award at a UNESCO competition in 1981, when he received the first poster prize.
By the early 80's, Daniel Grassagliata has already established himself as a painter obsessed with the quest for light through the contrast of imaginary spaces. "My masters have been Rembrandt, Goya and De Chirico" he stated. After working on glaze, he focused on material. In 1982, he received the First Special Jury Distinction at the 14th Grand Prix International of Deauville, in the abstract category. For realizing his geometric abstractions, most of them inspired by cubists like Braque, he used natural pigments. Then, by the end of the decade, his painting evolved more and more toward non-formal shapes. His work with acids, varnish and fire opened the way of his mastering of rhythm. Although the intrusion of matter in colours had brought him closer to his ultimate quest for light,. he was not yet satisfied. "Something was missing", he said. Finally, he was able to find the last piece of the puzzle almost by chance. One day, he bought a chunk of a special bronze RED at his usual merchant of colours and could not stop using it. "I became obsessed with this colour", he recalled. And this obsession has been going on since 1989, the date of his first monochrome paintings.
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1989 also represented for Daniel Grassagliata a major change. This is when he decided to leave Paris. He chose to open an atelier, first in Orleans, then in Marigny-les-Usages, a small town nearly. there, he bought and restored on old country train station that he currently uses as his atelier and home. Although he comes regularly to Paris for his exhibitions, he spends most of the year away from the city. When he is not teaching local kids, he paints extensively, travels to Africa or elsewhere in Europe to meet fellow artists with whom he organized field interventions, a ten days contracts in the "Adrenaline Village" at Chelsea London that he compelled in June 1997. In the old factory that once inspired Pïnk Floyd, and has now become a very lively Art Centre, he realized two gigantic monochrome paintings. Also, during the summer, he went to Prague to make an animation with kids in the street and, then, to Zari, in the northern part to Poland, where he painted non-stop for ten days in a local factory under the bemused eyes of 800 workers.
Now that Daniel Grassagliata has experienced RED as a single colour, both as form and simultaneously structure, it is obvious to him that painting is by definition monochrome. "Colour is only matter, light comes through the lines, space is delimited by surface" he likes to repeat. For him, "Art is in the Atelier" because it is in the very act of creating matter directly from the shapes ; finding the light that will give it a meaning ; and binding the two with appropriate rhythm to determine space and surface that his passion of painting is to be found. If only by the choice of the colour RED, he has revealed himself not so much as a conceptual artist but more as a sensualist. The touch of the matter he is working with is fundamental to him. As a counterpoint to his large format monochrome paintings, he has started working on small formats and series. By introducing external elements (tissue, nails, matches, cardboard, etc.) and bringing into play the frame, using both its form and mobility, he has achieved the gest of his act of painting : the Red colour endures!
Christine Holzbauer-Madison.