Jan 12, 2009

PIERRE BETTENCOURT: The Mosaic World Of Words


Known mainly as a painter, French artist PIERRE BETTENCOURT (1917-2006) was also typographer, publisher, illustrator, poet & writer of numerous short texts, many of which illustrated, set up and printed by himself at his legendary printing house in Saint-Maurice d`Etelan, Normandy.
Apart from his own works, Bettencourt published, with the same superior handmade printing quality, works of HENRI MICHAUX, JEAN PAULHAN, MARCEL BEALU, JEAN FERRY, ANTONIN ARTAUD, JEAN DUBUFFET, ANDRE GIDE, FRANCIS PONGE... all in very limited number of copies (less than 300). His work as a printer has been acclaimed as "talking typography".

"My first passion was printing. The profession of a typographer is a decent profession, it has little to do with fame and money, those two great corrupters of artists. I started printing my own works and then works of authors i loved. [...] I wanted to tell those texts through my own voice...and, finally, i used the voice of type glyphs for telling them. (from an interview in LIBERATION newspaper)

Bettencourt stopped dealing with printing in 1962 but he continued writing and painting. He got married in 1963 and since then he lived in Yonne (Stigny). He wrote poems in prose, short stories, myths and narratives of imaginery travels although he actually travelled a lot.
As a visual artist he created (among other works) large mosaics made of natural materials: eggshells, butterfly wings, dry seeds, coffee or corn beans...




THE LAST WORDS
I put in a bottle filled with water my wife`s last words. The black letters dissolved at once, and the water got the colour of bog. Few years later i found that bottle in a cupboard on the wall; the water had evaporated, and at the bottom the letters had got back their shape. It looked like the letters felt bound to express a meaning, they had been back in line therefore. But water withdrawal surprised the most careless and only few could stay together. And those they were asking now: " where are you?".

(from FABLES FRAICHES POUR LIRE A JEUN, anthology, Lettres Vives,1986)





With many ways someone can draw the sea.
Mean sea-painters represent tempests and shipwrecks.
Sometimes we ask from them to draw us the distant seas
where the strangers came from.
But only poets with all-pure hand, with gentle motions, are those
they draw the lines of streams we travel.

(
from LOU-KIANG-TUE. OMBRES CHINOISES, 1959 )


Other Bettencourt books: "LA FOLIE GAGNE", "L`INTOUCHABLE", "LE BAL DES ARDENTS", "LES PLAISIRS DU ROI", "ECRIT DANS LE VIDE", "MILLE MORTS", "L`OCEAN DE MEMOIRE", "CONVERSATIONS AVEC DIEU", "HISTORIE NATURELLE DE L`IMAGINAIRE", "APRE MOI, LE SOLEIL" a.o.

Bettencourt`s printing house in Saint-Maurice d`Etelan
(drawing of Christian Jouanin)


NOTE: The English version of BETTENCOURT texts is based on the greek translations by
E. X.
GONATAS

5 comments:

Σωτήρης said...

Εξαιρετικός...
Δυστυχώς, το άλμπουμ που με ρώτησες δεν το έχει ούτε ο φίλος Σπύρος. Παρατήρησα, με λίγο ψάξιμο, πως ενα δυο σαιτς το δίνουν (ειτε ολόκληρο είτε mp3 mp3) επι πληρωμή. Στο ενα απο τα δυο μάλιστα, βγαίνει περίπου 10 δολλάρια...
Να το προχωρήσουμε, ή απλά βοηθάμε κάποιον που εκμεταλλεύεται τη σπανιότητα???

LFDJ said...

Αγαπητε Σωτηρη
γνωριζουμε αυτα τα sites τα οποία πωλούν cd-r αντιγραφα του εργου χωρις την συγκαταθεση των δημιουργων του. Ο ενδιαφερόμενος για το αλμπουμ δεν επιθυμει την κατ `αυτον τον τροπο αποκτηση μουσικης. Το αναζητει κατα κυριο λογο σε βινυλιο. Σε περιπτωση που το ειχε ήδη κανένας, θα ηθελε απλως να το ξανακούσει μετα απο παρα πολυ καιρο.

Nιωθουμε αληθινά υπόχρεοι που κινητοποιήθηκες για χάρη μας.Ελπιζω μονο να μην προκαλεσαμε καποια αναστάτωση.
Ευχαριστώ - paramo.

Σωτήρης said...

Συμφωνώ απόλυτα με τα όσα έγραψες. Άλλωστε έχεις καταλάβει πως και για μένα αυτά τα μικρά, άλλοτε χαρωπά και άλλοτε θλιβερά "χριτς", "κλικ", "χιςς" που ακούμε στα αγαπημένα μας βινύλια, είναι στην κυριολεξία αξεπέραστα. Και το αστείο είναι πως κάποτε τα μισούσα αφάνταστα. Και τωρα τα μισώ. Για άλλο λόγο όμως. Γιατι μου θυμίζουν το παρελθόν. Καλό, κακό, είναι παρελθόν.
Δεν με έβαλες σε κόπο, απεναντίας.
(Για βινύλια, πάντα υπάρχει άκρη κάπου...)

Anonymous said...

ποιο δίσκο ψάχνετε?
λέω, μήπως το έχω :)


iraklis

Pam Givens said...

This is an amazing post. His life accomplishments were so many. I'm struck by the subjects of the large mosaics and will spend some time studying them and him.

Thank you