Didier Grare, le messager du réel

Our Earth is a special place. It is a place of vivid colour: billowing, brilliant white clouds, azure seas, red and ochre earth tones. This awe-inspiring riot of colour creates a harmonious pattern which nourishes our dreams.. An art historian might wonder whether the creator of Earth was a disciple of Turner or a friend of Soutine.
On a map, Nabinaud can be found on the door-step of Aubeterre in the Charente, one of the prettiest villages in France. But we are not geographers and for us at least, Nabinaud is in a different place, for Didier Grare lives here. A half ruined hamlet, a church, a cemetery. Nothing could be more unassuming. The old building that Didier has used as a studio for several years now has been completely transformed by his presence here.

Firstly, the garden with its clipped box bushes, aromatic herbs, a trellis dripping with roses and even the lush, tropical foliage of banana plants. In front, on the grass terrace (not a lawn) is a table on which someone has placed a vase of freshly cut flowers in welcome. Make a pilgrimage to the pond which marries visible and invisible worlds, constantly changing and reflecting the sky, as if you were holding it cupped in your hand. The slight motion of the pond weed reminds you of drowned Ophelia’s long waving hair, while the golden eyed frogs contemplate the eternal mysteries. In this extraordinary blend of air, water and vegetation, the pond is a microcosm of man, changing yet immutable. The garden provides the painter with his favourite subject but as a distraction illuminated by the calligraphy of plants.

Now, the house. An old one-storey farmhouse. On the right a barn. On the left the entrance to the house. Two rooms. The first room could be an 18th century Dutch interior, embellished with bright Provencal splashes of colour like a Matisse painting. Blue, red and white bring the Mediterranean to the Périgord. The window frames a portrait of the garden. A shelf holds lab equipment: pots of colours, thinners, varnish, brushes…The sitting room is also kitchen and studio. In the middle of the room stands an easel. In winter the fireplace purrs; on the table, glasses, a carafe, a sugar bowl, suggest the still life paintings which taught Didier his trade and now decorate the walls. And all of this surrounded by silence, a simple, yet somehow voluptuous luxury. At the back, a door opens onto the bedroom, with white walls covered in paintings and drawings. Nothing could be more charming; Didier Grare’s paintings shine with the particular luminosity of springtime. Here’s his method: a paintbrush, colours, a canvas and a miracle.

Didier Grare’s works invite us to reconnect with basic truths, to rediscover the happiness of a moment of oneness with the world around us. This is not a simple task.
First of all, he must deliberately allow the immediate present to penetrate his consciousness; to dream the subject. This takes effort. You need to create a vacuum. Walking can help. Like some Chinese painters, for Didier walking is seeking and finding through tranquillity. Maybe he learned this perspective when he visited Asia. Landscape sketched by grasses, a path rising in the undergrowth, a reflection on the river – all play their own music. Understanding is elusive – dormant thoughts can suddenly be awakened by a bright gleam of light on the side of a path. From vision to visionary, may not be a long way, but the gap between the two is all important.

Back in the studio, the artist lets his brush do the work. He doesn’t improvise: he describes a musical line in harmony with the delicate illuminations of the landscape. He is an interpreter, a secret messenger.
I do not know anyone who understands hospitality better than Didier. When money is scarce, he creates a refined gourmet treat from a simple potato; for those who really pay attention the most humble object can be a jewel. The scroll of a plant, a piece of driftwood, a work by Barcelo or Rebeyrolle, a drawing by a madman or a child – it’s all one: a resonance provided for our insight. The works of Didier Grare represent life as art, an invitation to immediate happiness. They show us, in a subtle way, that to paint is to inhabit the earth. It is that simple!