The paintings of Guy Montis may – because of their poetic realism – shock those who, for the past fifty years, have tried to shock the audience.
The penetrative and loyal art of Guy Montis knows how to reach for the truth of depths but respects the surface.
The art of Guy Montis is a mix of power and tenderness and speaks to all of our senses in the language of poetry and reality. Being myself incompetent in the art of painting, I can allow myself to judge ; that’s how one becomes an art critic
My total incompetence in the art of painting allows me more than anybody else to judge you talent, my dear Montis. I have seen a lot of paintings that have left me indifferent, but yours speak to my eyes, to my heart, to my senses with strength and delicacy. Thanks for giving us the treasures of you palette…. Thanks for being my friend.
I don’t think that Guy Montis asked me to write this foreword as he would have had to an expert. Nothing allows me to judge art in general and his in particular, not even the very special interest that I have for his work, which I find eternal and charming : one can’t be positive that his taste is good. But it seems to me that an artist needs friends more than censors. He, himself is the friend of everyone, of men, of animals, of plants, of things. He needs to be in love with his work, with the apple on the plate, with the tree, with the water. Without the colors of love on his palette, the painting will be lifeless. The censor nods and discusses a lot of good and bad reasons. The friend comes and sit in a corner of the studio, is amazed by the brush covered with oil which dispaches with dexterity the lights and the shadows and says, as he lights his pipe again : Buddy, this is marvelous ! Guy Montis is an artist, and he needs friends more than censors. Obviously, it because I belong to the first group that I’m writing this. I have known Guy for so long that I believe that he was a young boy the first time we met and I’ve never seen him parting from this positive and quiet passion that he has for his canvas, from dawn to dusk in front of a hill, in Provence. He can live with a bowl of soup and three figs and encounter the happiness that is refused o the richest, if he goes back at night to his tente with in mind the sketch of a landscape that he is happy with. Guy Montis is my friend because I admire him and I like him a lot. This may not be as valid as the testimonial of a censor, but as far as painting is concerned, it might be as worthy.
foreword to the exhibition : d’ Un petit village nommé Maussane ( April 1955) Galerie Durand-Ruel
(…) One can imagine what is during the black years the existence of such a man who didn’t like the German soldiers, and that the German soldiers didn’t like, from Collioure to Saint-Rémy, from Nice to Marseille, from the area of Indre to Paris… all the adventures of a clandestine agent who ends up being arrested in january 1944, remains eight months in jail, gets out of it become immediately involved in the fights for the Liberation of Paris and end up with severe injuries condemned to remain in the little chair for paralyzed persons. Not to whine and induce pity from others but in order to stand up and live. (…) I’ve met Guy Montis through Pierre Renoir, about ten years ago. The sun of the old pope of painting had befriend this young man of the Jack London type. He had had ten differentjobs and even acted for a while, before painting, this vice that some circumstances of life keep inhibited and others let go in order to torment or bring joy to those who are affected by it.
Since this long time ago when I saw the first attempts of Guy Montis, I knew that he made Provence his home, had received an award from the Blumenthal Fundation, and not satisfied by being able to paint, he would also gather some workers, some farmers and bring them along to some museum to teach them how to see. Nothing his more to be celebrated than this kind of behavior.
Here is Guy Montis in Paris for this exhibition that look like no other. This young artist – he is still on the sunny side of the fourties – didn’t travel through Patagonia to find his landscapes. He didn’t look for his flowers at the Market of la Madeleine or find is models in Toledo or Tahiti. The sites, the fruits and vegetables, the men and their jobs, the numerous portraits that Guy Montis offers composes the iconography of a village in France. Maussane in Provence, somewhere by Arles. This initiative is new, and these fifty images of one village would be enough to prouve his ambitions as an artist, artist in training, as he likes to call himself.
(…) Guy Montis is an artist. As an artist who has the ambition of a good artist (Renoir said, at the âge of 78, that he was making progress), knows this by heart. But I think that he is too modest, too aware too, not to despise these who would pretend to innovate like these who, since 1860 (from Manet, Monet , Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso) redefined the concept of painting in the entire world. But Guy Montis is very different, in a very good way in these times when everybody tries too hard to be different. Because Guy Montis paints portraits. This is crucial. Nothing is rarer at the time of great artistic revolutions (…) Painting today, is more of an art of allusions, approximations more than rigor, of being believable, of truth. One wants franticly to be subjective. Therefore, artists are looking for instant gratification, solitary games, free rides.
A certain part of the youth, it’s true, tries to react against a metaphoric art which takes a chance to make our children believe that painting was at some point reserved to a number of privileged people who had nothing but a thirst for emotions, pure colors and fake originality.
Guy Montis belongs to this young elite which is revolutionary by its return to the sources, to the difficult art of portrait that photography failed to make disappear, no matter what man can say. Daumier, in front of the first pictures from Daguerre would say Photography imitates everything and expresses nothing. Some thousand of people were and are painters-photographers. The Institute was and remains their retirement institution.
If the portraits of Guy Montis are perfect physical descriptions, they also are psychological documents, without which, the portrait is nothing but a mug shot. Strongly built, widely painted, these wonderful pieces of painting will grow old nice since they are nicely designed. And they prouve, once again, that at the origins their spontaneity lies a long, disappointing, painful learning of a craft. Painting is no polichinelle secret.
(…) And, I believe that Bonnard, who wanted to paint as Frans Hal, his opposite, would have been interested by the life of these faces from Provence ? What am I saying ? I’m going to be accused of comparing Montis and Frans Hal…
(…) The author of these strong farmers faces ought to be now the portrait maker of the landscapes of Provence. He can do it.
Montis-le Maussanais in Maussane les Alpilles EQUINOXE ed. Le Temps retrouvé Dec. 1991
Fr Maussane will be for him a place of quiet and peace, the land overflowed with a light that he willnever find anywhere else, an outdoor studio where he would create in 1953, a Circle of the friends of the Arts of la Valée des Baux, gathering workers, farmers, employes, all to become fascinated with art. (…) But it is through his example, also that he would teach them. In Maussane, in Saint Rémy, in the Baux, he is not only more and more successful with his exhibitions, : he also teams up with other artists. Withmasters as René Seyssaud, August Chjabaud, Pierre Ambrociani, Antoine Serra…
They became the group PROVENCE, which exhibited in Baux in 1948 ( it was the first time something like this happened !), in the remodeled Hotel de Manville. The members of Provence grounding their art the most audacious in this soil of Provence wanted to keep touch with reality while remodeling it with their magic (Charles Galtier). Charles Galtier, precisely, underlined particularly what was inside the art of Guy Montis, sensitive to the appearence fo the cosmos. Fascinated by the harsh light of the sun he bath it in an atmosphere of dream and poetry. The landscapes of Provence that are painted by Montis are full of this light. And the numerous protrait that he makes of the people in this area, living from this soil and on it, are just as remakable. Painting, to him, is a truth that impose itself and not just a school matter : this is why he would never want to be anything but an artist, only an artist, but an artist of the truth. The idea that he has of thruth allows him to offer remarkable portraits, so real but which are as much works of art, if one can say, as they are real psychological documents, where the personnality of the model appears al entirely in its deepest truth.
Guy Montis, who wanted himself a man from Maussane, would disserve that we offer him all the attention that he disserves : wouldn’t it make sense that his work would be rehabilitated here, by a gathering of his body of work.
(…) I hope that you exhibition has been as successful as it ought to be in St Remy, for you know, my dear Montis, how much I respect your loyal and honest way to work, with, for a result, meditated and polished pieces of work.
Art Historian and Professor at the Paris - VIII University
Art History – this incredible box ful of ideas and works dispached all over the place and all over time – is an incredible source of surprises and mistakes. The hierarchy of values, the different chages, the adventure of the artists consitute the cornerstone of an intellectual structure and classification-based structure that is purely speculative and wants to be serious and rigid. Still today, the closed world of the art looks as a fortress in which are asleep all the proven values ath have been recognized by historian, critics and salespersons.
Positively, the state of mind, the friends and the destiny of Guy Montis wouldn’t accept the usual compromise. A loner, in search for a natural art, lone searcher with the eye of a kid, this self trained artist who escaped from schools, styles, recipes, and all the dark pressure that chocks the nartural. For what surprises in first place inteh art of Guy Montis, it’s the innocence of the œil and the master of the hand with a talent that hasn’t been damaged.
Of couse, Guy Montis is the child of his time, but a rebelious child, a bothering witness, because impossible to recuperate, not polluted by the academic nostalgia and out of reach of the dominant influences of the time in whcih he lived. Real art can only be made by a free artist, not influenced by fashion and untouchable by references and pressure. Such was Montis and such was his destiny as a man and as an artist.
Artist of the lived and the real, Montois makes the invisible visible, his art transmits us a message that cultural parasitage and intellectual comfort can, unfortunately, make impossible to hear. So watch out ! It’s our duty to make an effort and purify our way to look at things.