Comme un musicien qui ferait ses gammes, Olivier Debré dessine tous les jours. Il fait des « exercices de main » comme il les appelle. Ses lignes tremblent, courent et s’arrêtent net en faisant une éclaboussure. Mais ce ne sont plus des tâches de Rorschach aléatoires. (…) Avec et par la ligne, Debré cherche des rythmes qui s’accordent et s’opposent, des associations et des ruptures.
One afternoon In London the painter and I had visited the Wallace Collection. As we left, Olivier Debré took his paint box and the newly painted canvases that he had checked at the door. Outside in the square he showed me his studies. “I did this this morning, at Hyde Park” he told me. “There were women walking, one of them, this one, had on a red dress.” All that was left of the red dress was a color and a plane on the green-blue canvas. But Debré had taken his inspiration from the visible world around him. Surely this is the equivalent of what Delacroix used to do, when he called Nature his “dictionary”? In the art of today, images drawn from nature have become springboards. Reality is no longer recognizable, but suggested. The painter cannot go on repeating contours, colors and rythms that he retains in his memory without becoming impoverished. He needs to enrichen these, to renew them by contact with life. In this domain of faraway transposition, Debré seems to me to have gone further than his predecessors.
Like a musician doing his scales, Olivier Debré draws every day. He does what he calls “hand exercises”. His line trembles, races, stops suddenly as it splashes a spot. But this is no longer a Rorschach school spot, depending upon chance. (…) With line and by line, Debré seeks for matching and opposing rythms, associations and ruptures.
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