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by Adnen Jdey

A reading hypothesis: everything happens with Imed Jemaïel as if his works did not follow one another, but coexisted. Because he has stubbornly pursued a variety of paths for the past fifteen years, his approach seems to be plagued by one or two obsessions at least. On the one hand, he trades the scriptural legibility of what he scribbles for a plastic visibility; and in this trade, he opts for the enjoyment of gesture against the economy of form. But on the other hand, he applies himself to a fascinating and formidable task: to seek, almost unwillingly, to perfect the formless. It is impossible to say which of these two obsessions will be better knotted around the other.

The sixteen works composing these Archipels d’encre are paintings. But these paintings are not so much image supports as subjectiles whose exploration is a matter of the infinitesimal. Faced with the canvases that he stretches like so many pages enlarged to human height, Imed Jemaïel attempts a series of gestures that at first glance one would tend to consider as irreconcilable. Lester the canvas of red guillotine here, lemon yellow or blue smurf there, while letting drip a little pink around: far from returning the artist to his brushes, colors are ejected here on the mode of early drippings. The spurts of paint that are deposited on the substrate, sometimes in the form of dustings to which Imed Jemaïel, equipped with his pen with acrylic charger, comes to provide a kind of irregular black rings, these spurts take on the appearance of nebulae or milky ways, if not the organic one of the animalcules of the nascent biology. The following operation consists in unfolding, according to this colored liquefaction, a kind of landscape weaving slices of palimpsests whose latitudes remind us that here, writing renounces the address but does not forget the repentances more than the biffures. And it is each time a punctiform composition, tightened on itself or burst, which sees the day, but constantly engaging a double movement: centrifugal, to thwart with a close look the compromised legibility; centripetal, thanks to a distancing of the same look to recenter the encrypted visibility of the painting.

There is no doubt that this curious operation gives to Archipels d’encre the methodical precision of a thoughtful approach and the insistence of a random seismography whose description cannot be confined to the clear and distinct. If, in a sense, the eye is forced here to become a seer, it enjoys the crazy precisions, sometimes decorated with gold and ready to take their flight in the geometry of the compositions, like small nothings, mine de rien chus on the quadrilateral reserve of the painting. We will not dwell on what this way of doing things borrows from marginalia or Chinese poetics. The singularity of the gesture comes here from the fact that it takes on the value of repetition like the process itself.

The doubt comes, however, that the difference between the two dimensions, methodical and random, is of little importance, and that the composition and the framing can exchange their effects. Under the spontaneous mats which crumble certain compositions, the effect of field perverts the writing: the crossings of the lines like their branches inside spaces arranged form a radical illegibility. Under the lilliputian minutiae of other focused compositions, this illegibility gains in variations as the writing gives way to the organized blossoming of iconic, floral or vegetal motifs, coming to resemble, among others, Mayan ideograms. Without pushing the analogy too far, one could see in these combinations of feigned writing and sinuous ornaments in constant relay, something other than formal finds. One should read there the principle of a graphic lyricism which does not say its name. The evolution of Imed Jemaïel’s approach, in Archipels d’encre, would be perhaps in the image of this principle: it proceeds by return on itself, sealing at the same time its capacity of renewal and rupture.

Adnen Jdey