Man’s presence in nature and / or painting couldn’t be better expressed. The landscape is humanized effortlessly : man or woman doesn’t modify it by imposing the architecture of its forms…
Recently, when in the same conversation, the names of both Pierre Tal Coat and Toni Grand were uttered, the harmonics of a same chord suddenly resonated within me. As if the distant echo of a thing both known and silenced escaped from these two notes played together. As if a common « sympathetic » vision of the world and nature preexisted at the source of their respective work. Addressing Tal Coat’s work, Henri Maldiney talks of a « fundamental relationship between Tal Coat and the universe that isn’t aggressive but sympathetic ». As is said of sympathetic chords, those we do not strike but simply vibrate by resonance – by sympathy – due to their sole proximity to the strike chords. Toni Grand’s work operates in a similar way. Confronted one to the other, both of these works benefit from that same relation.
For Tal Coat, as well as Toni Grand, anything destined to oblivion should be retained, kept, but with the same concern of never over-burdening what isn’t obvious. A similar approach to silence as well, main requirement to access. A formal experience of a commemoration, of a permanence. A relic of that which is remembered. The sculptor and the painter strive to birth the contained form, to let it appear instead of bringing it to light. To make « the invisible there » visible (cf Maldiney).
« I was struck by the attractiveness of stone. Of stone, or even of a tree… A great tree-trunk. The need of laying one’s hand on a stone or on a tree to feel… I don’t know what… » (Pierre Tal Coat). One can see both their hands so clearly, caressing. A similar gaze both artists lay on trees, wood, barks. When Tal Coat draws barks, pebbles or flints, Toni Grand works with wood and stone. But beyond examples and quotes, there is a common semantic field to both artists. A vocabulary that expresses a similar attachment to nature, to space. To their practice as well.
Tao Coat talks of rifts, incisions, Toni Grand splits and chops. One used « the Gaelic context, the stone and forest, the celtic soul » as an inspiration, the other concentrated on the various use of stone and wood, manipulating carpentry boards and tree branches (oak in particular), chopping, cutting, carving, squaring them off…
And then there’s fire. One cannot mention without horror how parts of both their work was burnt away. This fire in which harmonics became ashes, ashes dancing like flames. Like those which rise up in the night once the fire has been vanquished and that carry within the destiny of things destroyed but not forgotten. Up high, in the sky, these « ashes verging on blue » are still dancing (André du Bouchet).
– Christophe Gaillard