Highways stretching out into infinity, huge maps, wide angles, panoramas: Jean Marc Dallanegra paints roads. With or without cars, they never look the same. He often gives the impression of travelling at high speed along a long ribbon of asphalt. For six years now he has also painted freeways. He travels (in France, Germany, Spain, America, Italy, Libya...) shooting with his cameras, before setting oil to canvas with a knife. “I like to animate what appears empty,” he says, “Like the journey from one place to another that is made up of the road, the ground, the sky. Too often, only the place of arrival, from which we expect everything, where everything shall happen, seems to matter. I like to bring to life the elusive landscape from those moments, erased by non-existence”
Having been received with commendation by the Ecole de Beaux-Arts, Jean-Marc Dallanegra studied there for three years, before being thrown out. He was 25 years old and set out to cross the Sahara from North to South with: a friend, a marabou and five camels which carried two hundred kilos of painting materials and equipment. Back there, something clicked: “It was like harmony with the living earth. It was mad. After having walked for hours and hours, for days and days, my mind was literally empty and I suddenly felt the living force of the ground, of Mother Earth, beneath each step. I think it’s like that moment that pilgrims look for, that they keep looking for, and that they achieve during their pilgrimage.” Ever since, Dallanegra wants to share this feeling of “belonging” to the Earth with all of those who no longer, or scarcely, have any contact with it. And those who drive kilometre after kilometre by car, without any sensation. Therefor he paints roads. “I want to paint the reality of my era,” he explains, “ the reality in which man no longer travels by foot, in which he has invented a sort of secondary physical shell: his car. We spend all our time at high speed on this sea of tarmac; it’s a bizarre place, a place outside of time. While watching my paintings, I would like people to recognise with joy this place, this time, to remember that they are alive. For me, my painting is reporting. I can’t stop myself from painting, from narrating from ‘pointing things out’ and I want ‘another’ to view my work.”
Jean-Marc Dallanegra also paints pressure cookers... amongst other things. He has been painting since he was a child and remembers feeling encouraged by the fact that at school, the cleaners never wiped off the drawings that he had done on the tables: one day, having come back from the holidays, all the tables had been cleaned of all the drawings, graffiti and other scribblings, apart from his own. “I like to paint things that everyone knows,” he says, “so common in fact, that they seem pointless, so ordinary and boring that no one pays them any attention. As though, life no longer existed in them. A spoon, a ladle, a sieve, a drill, a cooker...” He set himself the goal of painting one hundred pressure cookers. “Like ceramicists who create using the raku technique; they follow the same ritual every time but never produce the same piece at the end.” He has done 99. They are all identical: one metre by one metre, all viewed head on, closed and shiny. They are all different.