Yet while I was able to move closer to minimal art with my non-objects, my structures, etc., that was not the case here.
My idea was above all to document automation, robotisation, the mechanical and electronic turn that the world was taking.
That is why at that time, in 1978, I introduced the graphic code of construction site tape. The world is forging a new world, it is at work.
I liked to use this graphic code (I still use it now). It is an anti-form and the fact of not giving it any precise dimensions in its rhythm fitted in with my idea of uncertainty that I had, of this new society in preparation.
Starting from this first painting, I was able to begin to think about what my new painting style could be, and I painted many black pictures.
Initially I used industrial paint, and then I moved on to tar, which I burned. This way I obtained different shades of black.
I did drawings on black paper, applied my spray, and little by little I created something that was no longer an abstract composition but just the idea of geometry, an angle, degrees, two parallel lines, etc.
Signs, in fact.
But at the same time, I also realised that it was increasingly difficult for me to communicate what I was doing.
I noticed that I was gradually enclosing myself in a kind of elite artistic ghetto, art for art’s sake.
And as I still had within me the idea that art could be part of this idea of societal transformation, I felt uneasy about that.
What I was doing did not reflect what I heard and perceived of the world.
I therefore reacted by entering into social reality, and decided to question and document the real.
I was particularly amazed but also perplexed by automation, mechanisation and robotisation, which were being introduced in various fields.
I myself did everything to automate my music, by making machines play it, and through my musical experiences and the electronic equipment that progressed further every day, I had a premonition that society was going to change radically.
The electronic machines in the service of music were a good indicator of this and I was persuaded that the future of music would be very different.
I therefore decided to take a more sociological and political artistic approach.
To keep to this idea, I borrowed materials from the field of industry, only intervening on them to determine their form, and the economy of my gestures, and indeed automation, became my new preoccupations.
My secret desire was to make machines produce my art. The idea that a machine could replace me in the technical creation process was very interesting to me.
I then produced a few pictures, arrangements, without having any ideas about composing a geometrical abstraction. I was producing the sign of something.
With ambient sound, generally repetitive music, these structures revealed the materiality of a void on display and a different temporality from that which we experienced in the real world.
I reduced my painting to the minimum; I had left its planarity behind and sound gradually replaced the organic quality of black paint.
In 1976 I took my national diploma, I showed the members of the jury my painting on tape, therefore a painting of sound, of non-objects, my black canvases, a few graphic music scores. I presented my ideas about art and I passed my diploma.
My artistic approach was radical, I had eliminated painting from its depiction and its traditional medium, I no longer even had a frame without a canvas or a canvas without a frame as others did, nor even any paint, but just the idea of painting recorded on tape.
I continued in this direction and therefore reached what I called the degree zero of painting.
As the idea had primacy over what I did, that is when I turned to conceptual art. I produced texts, artistic intentions, in fact I tinkered intellectually with linguistics, notes, and my sketchbooks, my sheets torn from these books, became more important than what I could really have produced, physically that is.
Object no. 1 text: Mixed technique on paper - 50 cm x 65 cm
Reflecting on this idea of sound spatialisation, I had just discovered quadriphonic sound. I moved from the surface/plane to the volume, to space, and I made my first black painted wooden structures from speaker systems that I de-structured.
I had salvaged some large speaker systems, and I removed the sides, left the speakers inside, attached by electrical wire, and painted it all in black.
This was in 1975.
This was followed by my first installations in dark rooms using electric light and sound. In these installations I disseminated my musical experiments on the objects/speakers that I had made.
Then I made other structures. What was important to me was to make objects that were not part of the world of painting or sculpture, or that of objects, strictly speaking. For I wanted these objects to show only the way they were made, that is, the geometry that underpins all structures, and above all I wanted them to help create a new perception of space in a way that sound spatialisation made possible.
Deux srtuctures en bois peint et corde plus boule lumineuse et cube lumineux 260 cm x 80 cm x 80 cm -
Patrick Dorobisz 1977
Two painted wood and cord structures plus luminous ball and cube
I called these paintings graphic scores, and at the same time, in my own way I signified the fact that painting needed to be rewritten.
That is to say, I thought (and still think) that we should not abandon painting, but that we had to fight with a new language to ensure that it could fit in with our contemporary era.
The dominant idea circulating in the early ‘70s was that painting could no longer belong to the field of art, that it was old-fashioned.
I was not entirely opposed to this idea but I thought that there might still be new paths to explore.
Particularly with this cross-disciplinarity.
While painting belongs to the realm of space and music belongs to that of time, the fact remains that these two artistic disciplines have time in common. For what difference is there between painting time on a surface, and painting time with notes and music instruments?
There is none, for in both cases, it is time that you are working with.
When you look at a painting, you are looking at the material, the colour, but you are also looking at a fragment of time, and when you listen to music, it is time that you are listening to.
I therefore saw this cross-disciplinary artistic field as a way of moving forward in my artistic research, which gradually led me to reconsider, through sound spatialisation, our relationship with space when faced with the artistic object.
As I wanted to reduce everything to the minimum and felt close to minimal art, I too wrote my manifesto during that period.
PATRICK DOROBISZ - Artistic Journey
I chose the language of geometric abstraction when I was a student at the School of Fine Arts.
This enabled me to break away from depicting reality, and the idea of my painting being nothing other than a pictorial, autonomous act, free from the world of objects, suited my vision of art at the time.
The year was 1973.
Gouache - 37,7cm x 29, 7cm Patrick Dorobisz - 1973 - Collection privée
However, the more paintings I did, the more I imbued myself with art and the more I noticed that my works still followed a certain pictorial tradition: that which is nowadays known as modernity.
I ultimately composed my paintings the way people compose figurative paintings, from memory. I used colour, I had shapes, composition ideas, and the equipment that I used was that of the classic painter… There was nothing new about what I was doing, at the end of the day.
We had just been through May 68 and the debates concerning a new society were still ongoing, as were the aesthetic debates.
Groups of painters were forming, proclaiming new pictorial theories for a new painting, a new art, manifestos were being published, etc.
It was a time when we felt that everything had to be changed and reformed.
After spending time at Valenciennes Academy of Fine Arts, I continued my studies at Cambrai School of Fine Arts as the painting studio there was well-known.
At this school and therefore at this studio, I was fortunate to have a painting teacher who was not the kind to want to transmit an artistic technique to us at all costs, as had been the case at my previous school, but was a teacher and an artist combined: Jean-Claude Chevalier.
Jean-Claude was a teacher who put us in touch with all the avant-garde artistic movements and asked us to really think about art.
It was a radically different form of teaching because being immersed in the art world for five years, exploring painting and art without knowing if we would ever actually become artists, cannot leave anyone indifferent. Every personality was shaped by it.
In 1st year there were about forty of us, I think, and by the 5th year there were only five of us left… We did not learn to paint in the style of such-and-such artist, we did not talk about drawing, form or colours, but we debated art and its philosophy, and Jean-Claude helped us to find our means of expression by bringing the idea, the artistic concept to the fore.
Thus I would later explore artistic cross-disciplinarity by using the fields of sound, music and visual arts.
So of course, we must remember that while today the term cross-disciplinarity is used commonly and many young artists have entered this artistic field, an area which has now become part of the Fine Arts, the same did not apply forty years ago.
Practising cross-disciplinarity by using the medium of “sound” at an art school, in order to earn the national painting diploma, was not a common occurrence.
In the room that I used as a studio, I had installed a tape recorder and a synthesizer…
And with another teacher, Claude Cathelain, who was gifted at electronics, I had made an electronic keyboard with 16th tones. Which was no mean feat in 1974!
Even at the conservatoire, nobody was studying microtonality with electronic sound!
This brings me back to my situation as a student at the School of Fine Arts, where we endlessly discussed art, sound, philosophy, art history, creation, etc.
Encouraged by the artistic debates and intellectual discussions, which were sometimes lively, one day in 1974, my mind brimming with contradictory ideas and above all teeming with questions, I decided to break away radically from what I was doing.
I wanted to rid myself of everything that made painting what it was, the shapes, colours, light, composition, its illusionism, etc.
I therefore painted my first canvas with a black background, to get rid of the light.
I used glycerophtalic paint, an industrial paint, to break away from oil painting.
Onto this background I sprayed silver paint, designed for car bodywork. I therefore had no more shapes and at the same time I eliminated colour with this neutral metal grey.