ORGANISED THINKING (in CIMAISE n° 259 may-june 1999)

Humanist, friend and fellow traveller of many artists, an artist himself, holding back too long, to the extent that he chose through modesty, a reflexïve, voluntary retirement, Jean Branchet no longer fears meeting the gaze of the public and of his peers. After decades of work in his bright and functional studio poised between the Loire and Brittany, where he buit up an endlessly renewed language based on precariously settled forms: those of the constructed alphabet.

However, he does not lay out his shapes according to the strictly neo-plastician orthodoxy, by invoking a materially accurate reality, in the meaning given it by Plato. He does not repudiate « the rule which corrects emotion », but simi-larly, he enjoys liberating the « great fugue of the alive », in other words, innervating the significance of a feeling, trans-mitting the nostalgic fragrance of a landscape, a faraway country or a city, leaving no clues as to their appearance.

Resolutely non-figurative and geometric, but without a trace of dryness, Jean Branchet?s writing allows itself twists and turns, ingenious and playful couplings, tracking games and chromatic daring, beyond pre-ordained boundaries. However, the bases of an organised thought process, are those which regulate and determine the complex ramifica-tions of his triangles, his squares, his Iozenges, his circles, and his graphic mazes, be they vertical or horizontal and sometimes gridlike.

But it is easier to understand from the beginning. As his star-ting point quick notes and sketches made during his jour-neys or while resting, taking into account the topography of the places, the climate, the special atmosphers and the moods of the moment, Jean Branchet, after long maturing, mingling memories and sensations in the same inventory, transfers them on to his favourite supports; canvas or reliefs made of wood, plastic or cardboard, on which are only left traces of the idea and the imprint of emotion, diluted in the structure of combinatory operations.

Having said this, for him the main ingredient is the role played by colour, apart from the exact and simplified repor-ting of forms among themselves, the adjusting of their pro-portions, the exactness of their exchanges and of their breaking points, and the synthetical spirit which regulates their powers. lt is lively and cutting, limited to the major tones distributed in flat planes, sonorous and wilful in its decisive contrasts, its rhythms and harmonies are not without a relationship with music, for he has not forgotten, as Matisse proclaimed, that « music and colour have nothing in common, but they follow parallel paths. Seven notes, with a few modifications, are enough to write any kind of score. Whv should it not be the same for the visual arts? »

However, in parallel with these concordances, thought out and meditated upon, adventurous without excentricity, lively without losing its rigorousness, musical and architec-tural, Jean Branchet?s work exhibits its mastery over its means and its finality, joyfully scansed and soberly dosed, by its concise and fluid accords, bathing in a raw light. And so, in spite of the clarity and firm uncomprimising manner in which it is created, it never dispenses with the sensitive chord linking it at the world. Nothing there is mechanical, but subtly modulated, based on constant interaction bet-ween colour through light.

In this tense and shimmering universe, shivering under buried reminiscences, far from the « redoutable literary spirit » denounced by Cézanne, the hand does not shake and chance plays no part. Everything works and is naturally linked in the coherence of the whole of the parts. Every plane, every intersection, each linear crisscrossing, each valve, each stroke whether broken off or prolonged, com-pose an uninterrupted symphony which sets off an effusive meandering uncommon within these horizons.

And now, coming up to the third dimension, Jean Branchet has changed his register but not his measure and discipline in the perception of his spacial grammar. His sculptures in wood or polychrome plastic, generally upright, anchored in the ground itself or designed to stick to the wall, are not simply objects, unless they be models, since they aspire to monumentality. They present us with their frontal and slimmed down structures, with inversed transversal unities, superposed and pierced, slatted, arrowed or circular, some-times crenellated, whose assembling provide related and complementary tensions. On these expanding armatures, in which the impact of blacks and reds emphasise the white flatness of the backgrounds, circulates a fusing energy which opens up space. Volumes and surfaces intertwine, fuse, widen and tighten up, retract and double up until the confronted values slot together.

And so, based on an efficiently economical intervention, as close as possible to the dominant axes of constructed art, in spite of the bracing autonomy of his approach, Jean Branchet never stops telling us about his happiness in pain-ting and making forms which are truly bis own, and whose echo resonates in the range of his hunger for life.

Gérard Xuriguera