Vive la peinture!

Vive la peinture! is a series of three sketches by Belgian artist and art historian Jacques Lennep, respectively named “La Tapisserie” (“The Tapestry”), “Vive la peinture” (“Long live painting!”) and “La Table” (“The Table”). Designed independently by the artist between 1974 and 1975, they were assembled by the “Continental Video” studio team to be broadcast during a festival. The first sequence shows a fixed shot of a tapestry with flowers, which could be seen as a reference to the decorative arts, a tradition that has long been marginalized by art history and which Lennep might have humorously been seeking to legitimize by exclaiming “Long live painting!” at the end of the sequence. In the thus titled second sequence, Lennep imitates the act of painting: Equipped with the traditional attributes of the painter (palette and brush, canvas and easel), he performs the codified gestures of an artist in search of inspiration, looking at a subject situated outside the camera frame. As he pretends to paint, the canvas, stretcher, and easel disappear from the screen one by one. While the physical deconstruction of the painting as an object ensues, an arm comes into the foreground from the right and starts to paint the semi-transparent surface of a pane of plexiglass in white. The plexiglass acts as an additional screen, and as a threshold or boundary between the space of the depiction and the space in which the spectator stands. The art of painting literally escapes from its frame—that of the painting itself—to eventually designate another frame: that of the television screen and, behind it, that of the spectator. Finally, in “Le Tableau,” Lennep steps into the shoes of a critic or historian immersed in the absurd analysis of a work of art which at first appears to be invisible but then proves to be none other than the television set as seen from the inside. He shows particular interest in describing its format (length: approx. 50 cm, height: approx. 40 cm), its subject (a sleepy viewer slouching in his chair), and the light source (directed towards the character and casting a chiaroscuro onto the stage). The serious nature of the presentation is questioned when we realize the fraud, namely the transfer made between painting and video. Video ends up substituting for painting, which disappears from the discourse entirely.