The Great Alain Godon comes from Le Berry in France

  • Dated: Sep­tem­ber 2015
  • Media: L’Echo du Berry

The Great Alain Godon comes from Le Berry in France

If today Le Tou­quet is the most “Godonised” place in France, this French artist and sculp­tor over whom New York and Los Ange­les gal­leries lock horns, is well and truly a son of Le Berry! Alain Godon is a great; firstly thanks to his height and more impor­tantly because of his tal­ent. The unique char­ac­ter of his colour­ful, and res­olutely pos­i­tive, paint­ings means that he has reached great heights in the world of art.

This suc­cess has given rise to cer­tain spin-​offs, not least in regards to the price of his works. A painter “since for­ever”, Alain Godon also started to sculpt ten years ago and, fur­ther­more, he is the cre­ator of the Bil­doRe­liefo (which means “image in relief” in Esperanto); a rev­o­lu­tion­ary process in the art world which fuses the oil on can­vas paint­ing with dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.
A local lad
At the oppo­site extreme of the “glit­ter­ing” stratos­pheres to which his pro­fes­sion often takes him, is Bruère-​Allichamps, near Saint-​Amand in the départe­ment of the Cher, where the artist spends his hol­i­days every year. In flip flops along­side the river Cher (editor’s note: and with his canoes!), he breathes in deeply the odours of his child­hood, his “madeleine de Proust” [sub­con­scious, sub­lim­i­nal mem­o­ries]. Although the artist was born on 1st Novem­ber 1964 in Bourges, where his father, the Doc­tor Roger Godon was also pres­i­dent of the box­ing asso­ci­a­tion, all his fam­ily orig­i­nate from the south of the départe­ment, or more pre­cisely from “Val­lenay — and not from Bigny!”, (editor’s note: a ref­er­ence to the town­ship of Bigny-​Vallenay), on his father’s side and from Bruère-​Allichamps on his mother’s.
“My mother was also born in Bourges, but she came from a Bruéroise fam­ily which can be traced back seven gen­er­a­tions: Bar­rault, Bovais, Joli­vard, Bour­don, Lardy and Bar­vary” the local lad reels off. Paulette Godon’s grand­par­ents lived at num­ber 16 Route de Noir­lac, not too far from the river Cher. This house is no longer in the fam­ily today, but Alain Godon returns to a home in Bruère to recharge his bat­ter­ies, far away from his Lon­don base and his pro­fes­sional com­mit­ments in New York or Los Ange­les. Not that this has stopped him from paint­ing the Pri­ory of Saint-​Etienne in Allichamps – Le château de ma mère, quite sim­i­lar to that of Mar­cel Pagnol’s.
“My best friend, Bernard Mon­mas­son, lives here. He lives just a stone’s throw from my mother’s house in Val­lenay. He’s a great guy and he knows how to keep me grounded and reminds me of where I come from.” And where he comes from is grow­ing up in admi­ra­tion of local great artists such as Mau­rice Estève and Mar­cel Bas­coulard. “My father’s grand­fa­ther, who was the Mayor of Val­lenay between 1911 and 1919, signed Bascoulard’s birth cer­tifi­cate”, an anec­dote Alain Godon recalls. More­over, he comes from a fam­ily where “every­one had artis­tic tal­ent”. It was his uncle Gas­ton who taught him how to draw and paint: “By pro­fes­sion he was as an archi­tect and he spent his retire­ment draw­ing the old build­ings of Val­lenay in Indian ink and paint­ing then in water­colour.”
Colour in the ser­vice of archi­tec­ture
It is not sur­pris­ing then that today the artist infuses life into archi­tec­ture in his extremely colour­ful can­vases. Whilst the ele­ment of the con­structed build­ing dom­i­nates his paint­ings, the artist uses a pic­to­r­ial lan­guage which is unique to him. “I paint soci­ety as I see it”, the artist explains. “Some­times my ref­er­ences have a satir­i­cal edge, but my paint­ings are always joy­ful.” Alain Godon is the com­plete antithe­sis of the tor­tured artist. “I live the pos­i­tive moments in the present. The future, we don’t know what is in store and as for past sad­ness, I use it to reflect on so that I can bounce back stronger than before.” Nev­er­the­less, life has bequeathed him, like us all, his share of dif­fi­cul­ties, some of which will remain undis­closed.
At the age of 10, the family’s move from Bourges to Achicourt, near Arras in the départe­ment of the Pas-​de-​Calais, was fol­lowed not long after by the death of his father, leav­ing a young widow in dis­tress­ing cir­cum­stances. His time at school was dif­fi­cult. He is dyslexic, but “at that time, this con­di­tion hadn’t yet been diag­nosed”, Alain recalls. Ulti­mately, this hand­i­cap allowed his visual per­spec­tive to flour­ish, “rather like a per­son with one eye, who can see bet­ter with the one remain­ing eye.” He then left for Eng­land “with­out a penny to his name to learn Eng­lish” before return­ing to France and serv­ing for two years with the para­chute reg­i­ment in the army in Pau. After that, as a young man he took on a series of unqual­i­fied jobs, mostly in Le Tou­quet Paris-​Plage where he worked as a sales­man or bar man – and where he would later man­age those night clubs – before fol­low­ing the well-​trodden route of sea­sonal work­ers: Courchevel and then Saint-​Tropez. “I came back up to the north because I couldn’t get this girl out of my head….” And he was right to come back and find that girl who so occu­pied his thoughts, because three decades later his wife Nathalie still shares his life with him. “She is my soul mate, my rock; it is she who has encour­aged me from the begin­ning”.
From street art to fig­u­ra­tion
Alain was 18 years old in the eight­ies. He grew up in the world of graf­fiti, street art and hip-​hop. Fas­ci­nated by the char­ac­ter of Bert con­jur­ing up other worlds with his chalk draw­ings on the streets of Lon­don in Mary Pop­pins, Alain Godon started out by cre­at­ing his own ephemeral works on the pave­ments oppo­site the Lou­vre in the hope of a few coins com­ing his way. Meet­ing Régis Dor­val would be deci­sive for him; the gallery owner from Lille offered him his first solo exhi­bi­tion in Le Tou­quet fol­lowed by one in Lille, before he went on to show his tal­ent in the United States. Today, Alain Godon’s solo exhi­bi­tions num­ber over sixty since 1994. How­ever, it was in the United States that his works were snapped up at incred­i­ble prices fol­low­ing on from his first Amer­i­can exhi­bi­tion in Den­ver in 1999. There­after, he has since been invited to Cen­tral Park in New York, Aspen and also Miami and, more recently, he was asked to illus­trate the Miami Beach City Report of 2015. Not to be missed in the United States, his works have also been exhib­ited in Bali in Indone­sia, in the Nether­lands and in Switzer­land. One of the many places in France he has exhib­ited in is the Tui­leries in Paris, and the town of Le Tou­quet has paid homage in his own life time to this extra­or­di­nary artist: “Godonised” buses, a cat­a­logue for the 2012 Extrav­a­ganza exhi­bi­tion, which is really a won­der­ful book of art, and many, many exhi­bi­tions. For four years, and again in Le Tou­quet, the artist organ­ised and more impor­tantly financed the Alain Godon Tro­phy, which was an oppor­tu­nity for some 600 young unknown artists to exhibit free of charge and the pos­si­bil­ity to carry away a major valu­able prize.
In the foot­steps of Matisse, “this genius of colour“
After a busy year (Lille, Miami, Los Ange­les and Le Tou­quet), Alain Godon has the “great hon­our” of prepar­ing for an exhi­bi­tion at the begin­ning of 2017 in the Matisse museum in Cateau-​Cambrésis in the départe­ment of the Nord in France. ” I am going to be fol­low­ing the trail of Henri Matisse, this genius of colour, in New York, in San Fran­cisco and then on to Tahiti in Poly­ne­sia,” asserts the artist eagerly. “His paint­ings fill me with joy.” Beguiled by Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, which he went to see for a sec­ond time after hav­ing been “knocked for six” at the MoMA in New York, the fig­u­ra­tive artist really admires artists such as David Hock­ney. He regards Pierre Soulages in France as “a giant, the most pow­er­ful artist we have today”. Self-​effacing and gen­er­ous, Alain Godon thinks of him­self “as a stu­dent who has just fin­ished his stud­ies and who can now really go off and start work­ing. I am not yet a great artist”. Nonethe­less, his pro­fes­sional suc­cess has enabled him to have the means to finance his own cre­ations. The com­pany, Alain Godon Lim­ited, based in Eng­land, employs four peo­ple, with­out tak­ing into account the numer­ous gal­leries he sup­plies with his work… In The Berry, he is regarded rather as the “Amer­i­can uncle” who has found suc­cess and inspires us all to dream. But his home is here and it is here that he finds peace. It is here he dreams of find­ing his ances­tors when the time comes for him to paint the walls of eternity.

Other arti­cles…

  • Alain Godon  chargé de l'illustration
    Jan­u­ary 2015
  • Alain Godon artiste français à Miami Beach
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Alain Godon et son tour du monde en 80 tableaux
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • ALAIN GODON’S MIAMI EXHIBIT
    March 2015
  • Alain Godon présente une série de sculptures et de tableaux
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Alain Godon, poète moderne
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Barnes Art Exhibit
    Jan­u­ary 2015
  • Faites le tour du monde avec  Alain Godon
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Alain Godon Exhibition
    May 2015
  • GODON AROUND THE WORLD
    March 2015
  • Guide, art incontournable
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Front de mer touquettois totalement inédit
    July 2016
  • Alain Godon
    Sep­tem­ber 2015
  • Le monde est son terrain de jeu
    Jan­u­ary 2015
  • Le Monde vu par Alain Godon
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Le tour du monde en 80 œuvres
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Around the World in Eighty Works
    Feb­ru­ary 2015
  • Alain Godon insolite
    Novem­ber 2015