A comme Art Poétique

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A comme Art Poétique
Philippe Lemaire
Écrire avec des ciseaux - To Write with Scissors
In the notebook where I learned to write, as a child, the teacher had stuck large letters of colored paper at the beginning of each lesson. Each was illustrated by a figure printed with a stamp; an owl for the letter H.
Write the letters with the pen in purple ink, several times, color the images, write again trying to avoid erasures. Progress was rewarded by an image. Is this way of learning, associating words and images, that gave me the taste of collages?
Writing with scissors is my fantasy. "You can make images with glue and scissors, and it's the same as a text, it says the same thing," says surrealist poet Jacques Prévert. One can write only with images, or by combining images and words. We can take inspiration from images to write, or from a text to illustrate it. The possibilities of associating words and images are multiple. The alphabet itself invites us there.
A friend musician had offered me eight large volumes that encumbered. She broke away by calling them "obsolete encyclopedia". It was the 1900 edition of the New Larousse illustrated. The concentrate of a world enlightened by the idea of the universal diffusion of knowledge. Become flesh to cut. I remained paralyzed for a long time before this monument of 7600 pages enriched with 49 000 engravings. I dared not wear the first scissors.
But it was tempting to use this material to compose an alphabet in collages. By inserting in the capital letters opening each chapter of the tiny engravings drawn in its pages. It is an ancient tradition to illuminate letters. The printing press pursued it. The capital letters of the old Larousse were drawn for the first time in the Renaissance by the French printer Geoffroy Tory, inspired by the conceptions of Leonardo da Vinci. They are inscribed in a square and an invisible circle whose proportions are based on those of the human body. The letter thus associates the macrocosm and the microcosm, the world and the human being.
I created a first illustrated alphabet of 26 collages. The temptation to continue the game was strong. And illuminate as many letters as possible to compose words without using the same illustrated letter twice. That's how I now have 102 illuminated letters, to write with collages.

Philippe Lemaire lives in Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.

email Philippe at   phil.fax @ free.fr (remove the spaces)

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