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.