The Distant Blue of Jacques Monory


In Landerneau, in Britanny (France), Pascale Le Thorel chose more than one hundred and fifty works by the painter-filmmaker Jacques Monory (born in 1924). His paintings, films, and writings suggest fictitious events of his feigned autobiography.


The strange and powerful images of Jacques Monory would be fallacious documents of his imaginary life, phantasmagorical information, romantic confidences, illusory information, and uncertain revelations.


In 1965, Monory participated in a friendly movement, Narrative Figuration. He then invented the adventures of the other double, the activities of the other, the successive deaths of the other, and the resurrections of the other double.


Very often, hundreds of images of Monory are imbued with blue nuances, which are intense and disturbing. The blue of dreams taints the murders, the faces of the desired women, the immobility of a tiger, and the entanglement of a jungle, the city, and the cruelty of the society. These blue metamorphose violence, fear, and desire. The blues attenuate them, moderate them, slow them down, temperate, fade, and sift them. Simultaneously, the blues offer areas of serenity and contentment, like the blue filter of some American filmmakers. Monory explains, “The blue becomes a plate which creates distanciation. […] With this distancing, we move into the mental world. Painting is like love, you always have to put on some blue.” Monory’s blues veil disasters and ferocity; they drive them away; they dismiss them; they form a carapace, a protection of the bitter real, a safeguard, armor, a screen, and a guardrail. Sometimes, Monory can paint blood that isn’t red.


Monory’s paintings never lie. But he explores the realm of lies and discovers his fuzzy limits, his indecisive foreheads. It plays with the deceptions of power, society, and merchandise. His painting does not believe in anything, rather it is skeptical, pessimistic, and ironic. He doesn’t judge or condemn. He looks at the world, but thinks he cannot change it. With causticity and an ambiguous irony, Monory is an impassive and smiling dandy. He is at once active and indifferent, energetic and casual, generous and phlegmatic. An individualist loner, he never belonged to a party. He does not paint in despair; he lives and acts in the “non-hope”. His painting revolves around decoys, moves on in labyrinths; knows the tricks and traps of power. His works are wary of masters and machinations. The artifice can be everywhere. Painting is never a deception. We avoid being puppets. In 2005, Monory said “All my murders have rested me; they were the amused images of my fears.” The creator likes to have fun. He’s constantly haunted by death and is fighting. In 1991, he noted, “This unbearable advent of death, I try to enjoy the pomp of the tragedy, to color it with the coldness of the black novel, the blue thriller, the icy delirium of a derisory romanticism.” Painter-filmmaker Monory expects more from American films than museum paintings. He confesses, “I was troubled much more deeply by Citizen Kane (1941) by Orson Welles than by Veronese. Welles taught me a lot.” He admires Welles’ Lady of Shanghai (1948) and in Meurtres (1968), he offers mirrors broken by bullet holes. There are ice-blue scenes from Joseph H. Lewis’s Gun Crazy, which he considers “the most beautiful film in the world”. According to Pascale Le Thorel (curator of the Landerneau exhibition), Monory often paints from the movies; he puts in his paintings frames in the frame, inserts juxtapositions, connections, fades, and zoom effects. Monory is inspired by the cinema, remarking, “The idea of dying in a film is to be alive in the next film. I found it extraordinary. And I used it all my life. ”


In 1968, Monory made a blue film, Ex-. The painter, in a dandy gangster outfit, runs into the crowd, is hit by a bullet and falls. He then dusts himself off and leaves. Elegant, he dies and he gets away with it. By the images of the cinema, his silhouette would be immortal.


In 1985 in a video, La Voleuse, and in his paintings from 1985-1986, Monory, recounts his anarchist joy, he is happy “We were running, pursued by the police, her (the little girl) and me, and we always escaped them, and we always had the same pleasure in stealing from shops, clothes shops, expensive jewelry shops, running through corridors, streets, well-known labyrinths, theater stages where only women played and always the same play, they never caught us, I loved her madly. We dance and fly in the air on a roller coaster, the little girl in my arms…” Monory then comments “There is a play on words: flight and flight – it ends optimistically, to change.”


In another period, Monory is more serious and more tragic. In 1974, he exhibited forty paintings entitled The first issues of the world catalog of incurable images. These are scenes that we can’t forget and suffer from. They are sick and poisonous figures, subtly unbalanced. There are blindfolded men and women, like Oedipus, who don’t want to see the unforgettable … And the spectators of a cinema see the parade of Nazi leaders around Hitler … And the future is forbidden, without horizon, with a brick wall, lined with fences… You can then read a terrible sentence, in 1929, Georges Bataille “Obscured dogs so long licked the fingers of their masters scream to death in the countryside in the middle of the night


In 1974, I published a preface of Jacques Monory’s work, Les Opéras Glacés. I will leave you with this excerpt:


“For always or almost, the operas mix the painful and the grotesque, the fascinating and the derisory, the tragic becomes voluntary grandiloquence. The agonies are prolonged and appear as spectacles. The sung comedy of death flourishes. Complacent to herself, death is spectacular. The death multiplies the figures of herself. Lets it be seen from all angles. It is mirrored in multiple reflections … The death does too much, shows off. Sings and prostitutes itself. With sighs and trills, kill laments with bellowing. Gives itself to consumption. It spreads and spreads. It is sleeping. It exaggerates the pathetic and exhausts it …”