|no title, 1961 [pic courtesy of Galerie Van de Loo Projekte]|
from Untitled Passages by Henri Michaux, ed. Catherine de Zegher, 2000:
the tree without end, the tree of life that is a source, that is, dotted with words and images and propounding riddles, the flow that, without interruption, even for one single second, passes through man [sic] from the very first moment of his [sic] life right up to the last, stream of sandglass, that only stops when life stops . . .
Is a statement really necessary? Isn’t it obvious that I paint so as to leave words behind, to put an end to the irritating question of how and why? Could it really be that I draw because I see so clearly this thing or that thing? Not at all. Quite the contrary. I do it to be perplexed again. And I am delighted if there are traps. I look for surprises. To know always would bore me. It would upset me. Must I at least be aware of what’s been going on? Not even. . . .
When it comes to countries, the more one distrusts them the better. . . .
A man and his face, it’s a little as if they were constantly devouring each other. . . .
I don’t think much about influences. You enjoy listening to people’s voices in the street, but they don’t solve your problem for you. When something is good it distracts you from your problem. . . .
No longer to imitate, but to signify nature. By strokes darts, dashes.
Ascesis of the immediate, of the lightning bolt. . . .
Like nature, the Chinese language does not draw any conclusion of its own, but lets itself be read . . .
Characters open onto several directions at once.
Point of pure equilibrium . . .
Calligraphy in its role as mediator between communion and abeyance . . .
Calligraphy around which — quite simply — one might abide as next to a tree, or a rock, or a source. . . .
its touch so fine, making a sign
peak, abyss on the same line. . . .
|Henri Michaux [pic courtesy of Isola di Rifiuti]|
In a black mood [after his wife’s death of burns] I start, having grabbed one, to cover it with a few dark colors and sullenly to squirt water onto it at random, not in order to do anything in particular, and certainly not a painting. I have nothing to do, I have only to undo. To undo the world of confused, conflicting things in which I am plunged. . . .
They were gestures, interior gestures, the ones with which we don’t have limbs but desires for limbs, stretching, impulsive movements and all this with living ligaments that are never thick, never big with flesh nor enclosed in skin . . . What an experience it will be when the time is ripe at last and, having got into the habit of thinking in signs, we are able to exchange secrets with a few natural strokes like a handful of twigs.