Biography by Delphine de Caussans
Thierry Bisch is a French artist who was born in Strasbourg in 1953. Influenced by his great grandfather, painter Louis Janmot (1814-1892), he has learned from him a serial organization of paintings. Their huge canvases and the generous gesture of the painter give intensity and vulnerability to the subjects. Louis Janmot was a Pre-Raphaelite painter who was student of Ingres and friend with Delacroix. He also was the teacher of the Symbolist Puvis de Chavanne and often regarded as the precursor of the movement. His strong interest for mysticism and the travel of Soul from Earth to Heaven leave their marks on his work. One can appreciate that in the work of Thierry Bisch.
He studied art in Strasbourg in 1974 and moved to Toulouse in 1978. Here he got into the Academie of Beaux-Arts and found an interest for 'Life Drawing'. In 1970, he was the co-founder of the rock label 'Reflexes' and helped Jean-Francois Bizot to create the magazine 'Zoulou'. In 1972 he met the French designer Thierry Mugler who became one of his closest friends. They both came from the same region and Bisch was his personal assistant. He made a 52 minutes movie about the designer who taught him his perfect command and knowledge of colors and shades. His travels around Middle East and Eastern Europe influenced him a lot. He dedicated his work to painting at the end of the 80's.
His first series, made in the early 90's, represents children: «The Well-Behaved Children». Children are standing in an undefined space. There isn't any indication of place or time. One doesn't know where they are or what time of the day it is. Such as 'Mathilda', painted in 1998, children look to be pensive and concerned about something that one doesn't know. They turn themselves to an interior world that they are the only ones to know. Adults don't have any clues. Drawing and its key lines are sketched succinctly, chromatic palette is limited and there is no particular light source. The only thing that matters is the expression of their looks: neither joyful nor carefree as it should be. Some children seem to pose like adults, way too serious for their ages; such as the young boy painted on 'Tomorrow No School', 1995. He doesn't seem to be sick at first sight. Suffering isn't clearly visible on his face neither happiness nor joy. He's posing, sitting on an armchair, back straight and hands on his thighs. One might think that he's trying to imitate his father except that he's boastful. The only clues about his youth and his disease: his robe, a teddy bear and a dozen of thermometers floating around him. Fascinated by levitation, floating objects are like a pictorial representation of dreams and thoughts to him. Would it be a way to insist on the role that adults attribute to their children? They shouldn't be so responsible and involved in some situations that they don't even understand. Those are for adults. Children are just supposed to enjoy their lives. Their way out: a fantasy world that they are the only ones who understand. The only way for adults to see it is what they can see in their eyes. That painting comes with a citation: «This painting refers to what schoolchildren used to do when they were young: increasing the temperature artificially. We coughed, groaned at bedtime and mothers came with thermometers. As soon as our mothers were doing something else, we put thermometers against a light bulb or we rubbed them against a blanket and it was done!! Fever! We also did stupid things such as being naked on the balcony in January but it could ended up with a pneumonia.»
«Communicants Children» is his next series. They carry on their shoulders the weight of religion and history that they didn't choose. Some of them, such as 'Charlotte' painted in 1994, wear old clothes and accessories that are from the past. Those outfits are characteristic of belonging to some religion or social classes.
The next series is called «The Paperdolls». This one is more humorous than the others. People are ridiculed and artist makes them look like fools. They are discredited in their own roles: 'Beatrice' (1996) is a posh cool chick, 'Tom' (1996) is an arrogant soldier and 'Yves' (1996) is a playboy. Why are they discredited? The top part of their bodies is dressed but the lower part is naked! Even if they wear beautiful clothes, jewels. genital are shown. Beyond the social codes and their backgrounds they are simply and finally human beings. Artist uses their bodies as a toy, an instrument with which he creates what he wants. Such as the children who ply with the 'paperdolls', those little figures made out of paper that one could find in old reviews. They came with different clothes and accessories.
Those three series show us how much Thierry Bisch loves playing with contrasts, social codes and paradoxes. His goal is to reveal his own reflections upon society, religion, contemporary world.
2000's are marked by the intrusion of animals in his work. Reflections and thoughts upon society or innocence go through the representation of endangered and exploited species such as elephants or rhinoceros. He makes animals feel more human instead of using a zoologist or a naturalist approach. His technique changed but the themes continue to follow the same guideline: doubting and questioning over contemporary world and reflections, thought upon innocence and society. «We were born, we live, we die». According to him, that's the only interesting subject in art. He usually chooses to represent animals depending on his empathy for them. However and unconsciously, their symbolism may have a special meaning for him. Rabbit means the passing from our world to the world above, from childhood to adulthood, dream to reality. Horse symbolizes freedom and spaces. Bear is his totem. His portraits seem to be very simple but they actually highlight serenity and refection upon what makes the essence of life and the identity of animals. The intensity of the looks give strenght to the portraits. Thierry Bisch doesn't use brushes and paint anymore. He used to paint animals in a dark charcoal monochorme on backgroungs like old soiled linen, discolored and distressed. Lately he's focusing on photography. He's one of the protagonists of the digital revolution. His work's evolving to a serial of photomontages whom subjects and symbolic are confronting childhood and adulthood, mysticism and realism, spiritual and religious. Such as the serial that represents several art dealers. He asked this question: how did the art market evolve and take such a big place in the economic market? Art dealers are represented as a work of work. Aren't they supposed to sell the works of art and not being one?
He set up his own style through his paintings and his photographs. A simple and direct style that knows how to transmit his reflections, thoughts and doubting. Through aluminum and a graphic palette, he sets up his photographs in the style of the Pop Art: flashy colors on a black background. Sometimes, little things (robots, balloons, planes.) float in the air, surrounding the figures and symbolizing fee spirits and thoughts. The use of color has long been problematic for him. Nicolas de Stael said: «The first who told me that green is the grass and blue sky, I'll beat him up. » Colors harmonize and balance a table. They involve an infinite number of combinations.
According to him, artists who belong to the Pop Art perfectly succeeded in processing of color with black circles, tint areas and splitting up of the compositions. Even if bulldogs and elephants are also represented in his bestiary, the «pink rabbit» remains his signature.
Delphine de Causans Janvier 2011