André CERVERA

Born in 1962 in Sète, France. Working and living in Sète, and wherever his travels take him... André Cervera, in the 1970s, was already fascinated by painting and, moreover, by the act of painting itself. The ascent of his older brother, Michel Zoom, “the poet of Figuration Libre”, and with the encouragement of Robert Combas, he took his first steps in the world of painting. By 1978, he appeared alongside his mentors in the magazine “Bato”, founded by Hervé di Rosa, Katty Brindel and Combas.

He took a course at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Sète, under the tutelage of a certain Madame Mancié who, four years earlier, had taken the troublemakers of the future “Figuration Libre” under her wing.

Cervera then entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Marseille alongside Aldo Biascamano. There, the two - are shocked by the works of Yves Klein, absolute artist, master of pure energy and luminous Shaman. With Tino Cosentino, Cervera and Biascamano, they found the group “Yaros” and threw themselves headlong into experiments of “total art” - a quasi-tribal art form of live paintings done with six hands on every imaginable support, happenings and comical provocations. They shot a short film announcing their manifesto, in essence, “a life of food, drink, fights and good times!” - multiplying their actions, writing short poetic fairy tales whilst under the influence of various chemical substances.

The fast life took its toll, and the adventures of Yaros soon came to an end four years later. The same fury, albeit mastered with virtuosity today, is ever present in André Cervera's paintings, the playlets, the theater and the poetic huis-clos. Contrary to the artists of Figuration Libre, Cervera's style is highly expressionistic under the influence of Kokochka, Ensor, and the German movement group Die Brücke. It also became increasingly “Latin” in tone, inspired by travels and the so-called “primitives”.

His first destination, in 1994, was Dakar, Senegal. He encounters, a community of deep in the Muslim faith. Immersing himself in the holy city, he takes in the smells, the colors, the words, several paintings came out of his studio later, named “The Small Village”, which questioned the decay of Christianity. His encounter with animism would come later...

In the same year, he was invited to Pacrac, Croatia. Memories of the Serbo-Croatian conflict still hung heavily in the air. There he offered the local museum a triptych titled: “Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow”. In 1995, Cervera completed a series of black and white paintings inspired by an imaginary trip to Mexico, introducing collage and kraft paper to his work for the very first time. He spoke of a “journey merely flushed by”, inspired by the grim reaper, a form of exorcism without any doubt.

The following year he was invited to join a residency program in Tétouan, Morocco. There he was inspired to do a series of totemic animal paintings.

In 2001, invited by a collector friend to Mali, he took off for the land of the Dogons. His fascination with story-telling and animism, was nourished by the films of Jean Rouch and Marcel Griaule. In the shade of the country's red cliffs, Cervera experienced Shaman-like rituals. He painted alongside a Burkina artist, using local earth, batik and colors: red, ocher, black, blue. Above all, Cervera was gifted in interpreting symbolic codes, mythologies and stories.

In 2003 and 2004, he travelled from Pondicherry to Calcutta, losing himself in this fascinating country. Faced with the profusion and opulent shapes and colors of India, he contrasted this with a form of intimate minimalism in black and white. Freeing himself from an overly-refined style of drawing, and keeping his vision western, he began integrating elements of legends and tales picked up during his travels: African masks, Ganesha and Shiva translating the magic of everyday life.

Since 2006 Cervera was invited several times to China. He developed a more forceful style, improving his distinctive range of colors through stamping and dripping techniques, restraining his palette, adding coating, glazing and transparency to his collages, integrating the use of rare
paper and refining his choice of motifs. His voracious imagination was fulfilled.

Cervera has over the past twenty years developed a unique style of “Latin expressionism” fueled by an urgency to paint. His artistic process has been a vital ritual and an obsession; to paint excessively, after all, is to paint the excessive. His vision of the world is of disproportionate realities - there is no sophistication in André Cervera's discourse. His works are guided by emotion and truth. Thus, for this local-born artist of working-class origins his works have gained rightful recognition in the world today.

(An excerpt translated from the original text by Philippe Saulle)