Five years ago, Jeremy Demester set foot for the first time on the red earth of Ouidah.
After collecting and studying numerous oral myths from the Gypsy community, he set out on this journey to the cradle of Voodoo, in order to understand the links of imaginative power that bind Vodun societies and the travelling peoples.
His pictorial work strives to recompose a language of sensitive, simple forms, whose profoundly human substance and instinctive gestures can be discerned in the composite representations of fetishes. Whether object, image, animal or person, the fetish is a vector of creation through the process of progressive abstraction from itself. For the artist: "the construction of a fetish is not only part of the endogenous cults of Benin, it is present in all civilizations", and for him it is "the key to the integration and intellection of the invisible in the visible in the same object".
"Gros-Câlin" is an ensemble of some twenty works borrowing its title from the novel by Romain Gary (Emile Ajar).
The exhibition assembles and arranges the visions of a painter who places his intuition at the center of his work, regarding this faculty as a mental technology that modern man is only just experimenting with.
According to Jeremy Demester, the Fondation Zinsou museum is a veritable heterotopia,
"Between illusion and perfection, time appears different, an island from which all reality can be reborn".
"Concerning the exhibition, I've seen the rooms of the Ouidah Museum and I've ordered canvas formats that will fit the place. I paint in relation to the space. It's the location that dictates the format. The idea is to create something that is already embodied in the house, and to take it out of the walls. I paint so that the painting can live, so that others can experience it and then it can be caught up by others who continue it. It's a means of passage in fact, and that's what I've experienced, through my culture. It's a mix between popular Gypsy culture and my Provencal culture."
"I paint without having an idea beforehand. It's like a vision. It just happens and I paint. There's no goal. I'll put myself in an almost animal state to paint. For a month, people can talk to me, but not too much. I try to be a vehicle for something I don't understand. That's why my paintings have no discourse. It's difficult to explain.
I want to convey joy and strength. When I sometimes hear music or see works that touch me, it gives me strength. These painters who have been painting for maybe 400 years, these writers who have written books, they don't exist anymore. But they still manage to give you strength, in their absence! When you live with works of art, sometimes there are things that galvanize you. For me, that's what's important today, is that these paintings give us the strength to carry on, to exist, to create events and encounters. Beauty is absolutely in the amalgam, not in the separation of ideas. We can't be divided, we can't be divided anymore. There are too many people. We need a common environment. We realize that all the current technology of our Western societies no longer seeks to create common environments, and I believe that painting is one of those places where we will always be able to find ourselves."