Mennesons' art through the times

The first period: 1943-1965

It was at the Ecole Professionelle de Dessin Industriel (EDPI) (Professional School of Industrial Design) that Mennessons studied History of Art as option. He began to visit museums which had recently re-opened after the war and produced his first works in drawing and painting (1943-44). In 1945 he was an Industrial Designer at the aeronautical armoury at Châtillon-sous-Bagneux. Within the year 1945-1946 he decided to give up a profession leading to a brilliant future and instead to throw himself into the insecurity and adventure of painting. For him, his art was as much research on an artistic scale as it was a means to find himself philosophically.

Attracted to sculpture, he befriended Henri Laurens (1949) who encouraged him to abandon teaching at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (School of Fine Arts). He was accepted as a student at Saint-Remy by Albert Gleizes and his stay in Provence until Gleizes' death in 1953 is notable for an intense creativity and exhibitions. Fleeing the static and stultifying repetition was the essence of his learning.

On his return to Paris, deprived of a studio he returned to figuration, the opposite of his leanings under Gleizes. From this, a new method was born, favouring the space between objects, rather than the objects themselves.

In 1960 he finally found a studio and art lovers helped him to live without having to hold a steady job. In these lyrically expressive works the favourite themes - music, sport, the circus, the sunlight on the Dordogne, spirituality - all come together in a composition which move around its core; this, at first, very busy gradually giving way to an empty fullness. His works are presented in several personal and joint exhibitions; the last in 1965 resulting in the French State purchasing one of his canvases.

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Second period: diversifying

At Nogent sur Marne new themes were born in a new studio: escape to the moon and the internalisation of scenery. The State acquired two boxes of artworks and the tapestry L'Oeil (the Eye) was exhibited in Tapisseries anciennes et modernes (Old and modern Tapestries) at the Mexican Institute of Fine Arts.
Within sculpture he studied the interaction between form and colour: the painting altered the sculpture's work flow to modify its form, which in turn modified the colour. He produced important works of enamelled pottery, oil based pastels and gouache based pieces on the same theme: the Apocalypse, in the etymological sense of unveiling of hidden realities (1966-69).

At the time of his journeys in Germany and German-speaking Switzerland, contact with concrete art encouraged the transition to a new composition: the rotation of colour which created the impression of four different shapes in one, thus raising the possibility of a transformation within the same space of the lino etchings which are grouped in compositions. Work on hollowed out, painted discs of wood and on structured cardboard models brought new ideas in his works.

For those who have always wanted to bring movement to a static and flat surface it is a logical conclusion to become interested in expression through cinematography: he produced, from 1971 short films in the super-8 format (personal exhibition near Stuttgart).

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1968, Les trois châteaux
Encre de Chine + gouache sur papier

1967, Trajectoire
Gouache, encre de Chine sur carton

Third period: golden numbers

During this period, golden numbers would determine all relationships in Mennessons' works. From now on the canvases were painted in acrylic and the first series, Les Energétiques, had as for its theme the movement of light.
Les Cibles (the Targets) evokes the Zen bow and arrow with its enclosed fields conducive to meditation. A filtered light going through Les Volets (the Shutters) plays hide and seek, while 'les Planeurs' (the Gliders) with its bands of primary colours enables a sense of airy weightlessness, fragile and serene, like life. In 1980 les Paravents (the Screens), blocks of primary colours are interspersed with black and white arrows and reflected symmetrically from the picture's centre. Les Découpages monochromes (the monochrome cuttings) of 1981 evoke the Hindu art which was appreciated during the summer of that year in the United States. The luminous tension climbing towards the centre of Pyramides (Pyramids) is set like a jewel. The series L'Homme debout (the standing man) of 1983, unfinished, is a composition where the diagonals that link the sides distend or narrow gently in the area near the centre.

Even variety in the series of Indian ink drawings on bristol board, usually drawn with a ruler in lines of varying thickness which brush the centre, create illusionary spaces in stairs or achieve the conciseness of Jardins Zen (Zen gardens).

The model-collages also play with contrasts in their big black and white beaches, as well as the blue, yellow and red sculptures which play with the light and recompose the luminous spectre, although suspended, black and white, twist at a breath of air in a serene equilibrium.

His film work continued to develop and he completed two films which recreated the Mennessons approach in the rhythm of his images: NEZZEN is more condensed; OH-ART encapsulates his life's works. This title gives the sense that since 1980 Mennessons attributed to his work: Art du choc et de l'éveil (art of shock and wakefulness).

His life was brutally cut short in November 1983. His works remain, witnesses to the profundity and order of his life, in which he influenced his works just as much as they influenced him.

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1979, Marée descendante
Acrylique sur toile

1980, Vers suspendu droite bleu
Acrylique sur papier, collage