Roger Bensasson has long made geometry dance by granting colour, treated as a rebellious element, the power to introduce movement and rhythm. In the same picture, to serve as a matrix for the work, grids of various sizes, inspired by Concrete Art, were thus superposed, creating different lines of interpretation - vertical or horizontal, oblique or overtly diagonal- that invited the eye to chassé-croisés in entirely virtual perspective. Feverish, almost savage blotches of colour then burst ito these defined spaces, rapidly pushing back the established frontiers.
On closer examination, the search already underway here was rigorously pursued in the years that followed. As is evident from the layered arrangement of grids and lyrical use of colour that seemed to want to subvert their hieratic order, it was a question of combining certain aesthetic options, wich may indeed have stemmed from the same inner need, but whose coming togother, from an art history viewpoint, did not stand to reason. First, there was a deep attachement to the grid motif inherited from Modernism's founding fathers. For Roger Bensasson, it was an anti-individualistic device that enabled him to avoid the mainderings of subjectivity, while opening his mind to an unlimited field of combinatory adventures. Then, defying this tradition, he distanced himself slightly from theories of planeness, a disassociation visible in his overlapping grids enhanced by colour. Lastly, a complex relationship with colour became apparent, prevailing over line, like a domain reserved for a play of impulses and emotions, like an exuberant force, both fascinating and fearsome as regards the legibility of the grid, and wich consequently would have to be neutralized.
These aesthetic options, wich made only fleeting appearances in the artist's earlier canvases, have synthesized and come to fruition in the works of the past ten years. Ideas have clarified. Choices have been made. The surface of the easel painting has come alive, giving birth to what could, for want of a better term, be called architectonic mural sculptures. Cardbroad has replaced canvas. It has the advantage of being a very flexible material, capable of embracing the fantasies of a mind that has just discovered the pleasure of moving in a third dimension, no longer virtual but real. Futhermore, as an extra bonus, this medium has added the joys or cutting out, slicing into, folding and sticking to the sense of touch. Although in a new genre, the works thus produced by the artist have retained the geometrization characteristic of the earlier period, except that now the square increasingly tends to impose its logic on the spatial structure. The grid, as such, still remains the guardian of the rationality, as in the past, yet is no longer visible in the finished works. Curves, wich were never allowed on the canvas, remain excluded; perhaps because their inflexions, intrinsically hold out the promise of voluptuousness and, above all, order sinking into oblivion. Colour has gained ground but lost its vehemence, since the paint, now applied over broad areas, has fused with form to intensify its identity. Conversely, the picture-plane lends itself to all kinds of manipulation. It may be split open to reveal the existence pf depth, or sometimes a void that the artist understandably likes to describe as "disruptive", for breaking up the unity of the surface means betraying a habit in order to let the disturbing possibility of chaos arise. This is also the raison d'être of the rifts, faults, unexpected encounters between divergent inclines and all the devices designed to introduce perceptual ambiguities that heighten the vagaries of light and shadow.
In this space already affected by fracture and discontinuity, a few recurrent motifs, derived from the square, appear in constantly renewed arrangements, all of wich draw on the immense reservoir of possibilities contained in the grid. Whether presented in intaglio, hollowed out of the cardbroad, or in relief, or simply painted, these motifs gave the artist, who insists on calling them "signs", the chance to experiment in this compositions not so much with balance and deadning symmetry as with discord. Hence, it seems, his insistent recourse to a choreography of obliques whose function is to create shifting movement and instability. Bensasson has effectively understood that discord, lodged in the heart of a work, is what enables the latter to lead onto the next one and engender a serie, since the resolution of discord, in a composition that would be perfect yet devoid of tension, is always deffered. The artist's approach clearly involves more than a simple play of combinatory elements. Using to constitute series that tend towards infinity, is a way of suggesting that the world can escape entropy and death. It is as if the desire for immortality runs through all this work.
His recent corks are even more eloquent, no doubt because they are also much starker. The rare signs once extracted from the grid by the artist have, almost by themselves crystallized in a single sign. This appears to have freed itself from the constraints of the grid, while borrowing a prodigious power of fascination from its essential element, the square. A bacchanalian dance, emanating raw, radiant vitality, has become possible. Swept along by a straightforward use of colour, the works spread themselves out in series and show us figures in wich the sign, now sovereign, has invented its autonomy. Everything can truly start, and re-start, like the sea.
Fernand Fournier ( Paris Août 2009) Translation: Pamela Hagreaves