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Robert Cadot


Contemporary symbolist approach


Me, you, her, him, us, them… And with these words, an entire world is born, a fragile and infinite masterpiece.

The mixing of the elements – water, earth, air, fire – and the union of beings – flowing compound – generate these fascinating shapes, contours and shades. Painters have traced them on the medium of their choice, after their personal manner. Adding their own touch, distortion and complexion, they all lent a hand to this universal search for the structure of fate. Grinding, handling, applying selected pigments and brushing with unavoidable strokes, they conceived a surface which stands above its specific substance, a breathing surface. Beyond its apparent inertia, the plane is this specific place where life increases its meaning. What kind of secrets, then, will disclose this strange alchemy on the theme of bodies’ lines, light’s vibrations and amalgams’ value?

Of course, the subject is far from being simple. From one’s shadow to the other one’s luminosity, from some precise traits to the subtle gradations of a reinvented sfumato, from a geometrical addition to the insertion of a radiating mist… all painters contribute to build our vision of picture imagery. For sure, every work that was passed on produced an impact on its environment. Frequently experiencing some hardship, some paintings made a successful journey through time and distance to deliver their significance. Not only they moulded our understanding of the pictorial voyage, but they also led to establish some salient convergences, amazing parallels and astonishing coincidences among the production of some artists. We can consider it as a merge, a dialogue, a symbiosis or, sometimes, just a skim. It can barely show in the background, just a wink, or be an obvious borrowing. In essence, it is at this split second that the encounter occurs: the wording is repeated, modified and, once more, transmitted with some additions, some subtractions or counterparts.

Sometimes, the creator’s eye follows a sudden impulse or an everlasting magnetism and he imitates a manner, embraces a structure, or follows a tangent that seems familiar at this particular moment of his evolution. After he received it almost as a confession, he adopts it and recites it as a formal mantra. The result is this deep intimacy that will trace these streaks of complicity, the harmony of the rhythm generating his manner of hatching the landscapes, dividing the volumes and unfolding the bodies. As pieces of art frequently give rise to each other, all of this will, inevitably, overlap the texture of the work, the life of the painting and find its own place.

For some unknown reasons, some of these similarities are more obvious than the others, they are intentional borrowings – however, their impact remains the same. For instance, this dress worn by the wife of the moneylender by Quentin Matsys (1514) is pretty much alike Marguerite Van Eyck’s dress (1439). Many have pointed out this evidence. Just as a playful exercise, we can also look at the composition X from Wassily Kandinsky. Of course, Quentin and Wassily both belong to two totally different eras, the latter being an abstract artist. However, look at the two opposite poles in Kandinsky’s painting: you can almost see two figures, the brown head on the left side is the money changer and the green one on the right side is his wife. The green circle refers to the copper plate standing behind the apple, the green flat head dress to the woman’s hat and the small coloured squares to the money. You can also make a connection between the red and yellow abstract hands and the open book standing firmly at the right bottom corner. The brightness emerging from the dark background in the composition X is also part of Matsys’ painting: you can perceive it on the mirror, on the vanishing point fading at the end of the corridor past the door, on the pearls decorating the black fabric and, furthermore, on the reflections of the carafe. Undeniably, the values and the lines of these two paintings are complementary.

We can also consider Guernica: Picasso painted it in 1937. He used to say that you should always sense the picture hiding behind the picture. Set it against the fusillade of the third of May 1808 from Goya (1814). Not only has the theme – the horrors of the war and the slaughter of innocent people – brought them closer, but the spatial composition of these paintings is pretty similar. At the bottom left of both paintings, there are two figures lying on the ground, reaching their hands. They glance at the same direction, the left side. There are these similar standing figures raising their hands up to the sky. There is this Goya’s bell tower becoming this Picasso’s lamp and the building’s architecture overlaying the same space, the upper right. Hopefully, it is quite enough to demonstrate that, if the communion between the drawings is only trivial, it is still a close association.

Here we are. This project, Encounter, refers to a succession of common grounds: sometimes it is in direct line with atmospheres, sometimes it is a surreal connection between two or several masterpieces. From the start, I was partly driven by the idea of influences, borrowings or coincidences but, beyond that, and throughout this project, some other instances became my motivations: I wanted to map out some of my masters’ work; I wanted to experience the joy of having some inner knowledge of their composition’s strength; I wanted to pay a tribute to their creativity and to interpret the musicality of their pictorial art.

But there is more to that. My main purpose was to take up the challenge of bringing to light the interaction of these fragments of arts travelling in this amazing musée imaginaire, as Malraux used to say. It is the source of all our acquaintances, queries and witnesses and it stands beyond the intricacies of time, in this immaterial place where Matisse can actually meet Vermeer, where Van Gogh hangs out with Hiroshige and where Moholy-Nagy can be introduced to the rectangles of Lucas de Leyde…


  1. Young Woman at her Toilet by Giovanni Bellini and Sleep by Salvador Dali
    Oil on canvas, 71 cm X 81 cm (28” X 32”), 2003.

  2. The Deluge by Michelangelo and Compassion by William Blake
    Oil on canvas, 71 cm X 81 cm (28” X 32”), 2004.

  3. The Mona Lisa by Léonardo da Vinci and Marylin by Andy Warhol
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 81 cm X 1,45 m (32” X 57”), 2004.

  4. The Shootings of May 3, 1808 by Francisco Goya and Guernica by Pablo Picasso
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 81 cm X 1,45 m (32” X 57”), 2004.

  5. The Milkmaid by Vermeer and The red room by Henri Matisse
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 81 cm X 1,45 m (32” X 57”), 2005.

  6. The Burial of Count Orgaz of El Greco and varied works by Amédéo Modigliani (Cariatides, selfportrait, portraits of Moïse Kisling, Jacques Lipchitz and his wife, Chaïm Soutine)
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 81 cm X 1,45 m (32” X 57”), 2005.

  7. Card players by Lucas Van Leyden and CHX by Moholy-Nagy
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 76 cm X 1,4 m (30” X 55”), 2005.

  8. The fifth Tôkaidô’s relais (Totsuka) by Utagawa Hiroshige and varied works by Vincent Van Gogh (selfportrait, Portrait of doctor Gachet, The Chirch at Auvers)
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 76 cm X 1,4 m (30” X 55”), 2006.

  9. What I saw in the Water and The Wounded Deer by Frida Kahlo and Nude in the bath by Pierre Bonnard
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 71 cm X 1,42 m (28” X 56”), 2006.

  10. The Raft of Medusa by Théodore Géricault and varied selfportraits by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Titien, Van Eyck
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 92 cm X 1,85 m (36” X 72”), 2006.

  11. The Arnolfini Portrait and The three Mary at the Tomb by Jan Van Eyck and The Robing of the Bride, and detail from The Hundred-Headed Woman opens her August Sleeve by Max Ernst
    Oil on canvas (triptych), 61 cm X 1,22 m (24” X 48”), 2006.

  12. The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel, and varied works by Edward Munch (The Scream, The Angst, Horse Team on a Building Site)
    Ois on canvas (triptych), 61 cm X 1,22 m (24” X 48”), 2007.

  13. The red Stairs by Chaïm Soutine and The red Tower at Halle by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
    Oil on canvas, 81 cm X 71 cm (32” X 28”), 2007.

  14. The Moneylender and his wife by Quentin Matsys and Composition X by Wassily Kandinsky
    Oil on canvas, 71 cm X 81 cm (28” X 32”), 2007.

  15. Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Ucello, Officer of the Hussars by Théodore Géricault, and The Poet Teba, on Horseback, and his Servant in a Winter by Katsushika Hokusai
    Oil on canvas, 89 cm X 1,78 m (35” X 70”), 2007.