One thing can be said from the outset : I have never been able to see the in situ works of Jean Paul Forest... and it is precisely this type of intervention that interests me, more than his mobile sculptures of small or medium format. I speak therefore of a work that I know only from some photographs and what Jean Paul wanted to tell me. An impression of the sublime stays with me.
When the impression gives way to the first reflections, the idea of Marcel Duchamp (again him ! ) comes to mind, who emphasised that the work of an artist, as brilliant as it may be, can only be fulfilled in the measure that the public has access to it: this has preoccupied people, probably too much, since the beginning of the last century. Like others before him, Jean Paul Forest escapes giving in to this conception of art. His installations are deliberately inaccessible and their discovery is permitted only through plans, notes of intention, designs, films, photographs or videos. And beyond this, there is the strongly poetic idea that there exists - and I can see the image of it - lost in the bottom of a deep valley in Tahiti or along the Pacific shore, sutures of metal that heal the wounds of the Earth.
There remains, I said, an impression of the sublime left not only by the exotic landscapes of Polynesia, but especially by their dialogue with the artistic intervention. The action of man is sensitive and produces meaning, but minute and lost in the obscurity of the forest or the immensity of the powerful, sometimes enraged, ocean.
Pierre HENRION, Curator of the open air museum of Sart Tilman , Liege, Belgium, for the exhibition " Des pierres, des coutures ", University of Liege, Belgium - 2001
Sculpture is a physical relation of Man with the matter of the world that surrounds him. It is an intellectual, cultural, emotional and carnal relation that cultivates intimacy with the Universe, with those like us and with ourselves. Just as with all couples, it is interlaced with phases of passion, of maturity and doubt. But the magic of this exchange is revealed when it produces an image strong enough to transform the vertigo to drunkenness and the ephemeral to sublime.
Jean Paul Forest - catalogue " Artistes et galeries de Polynésie française " - éd. le motu - Papeete - 2001
By the style it carries, an archaeological artefact reveals the traditions from which it comes; it shows thinking about the material. It reflects the conventions, customs, a social function and, often, the unconscious values by which its creators lived.
This spiritual index is proper to archaeology : it guides our research by offering us reference points in the human adventure in which the spirit is imposed on the form.
The sculptures of Jean Paul Forest are " read " like an archaeological artefact: we feel the texture, the weight, we appreciate the form, by which the messages are expressed, creating emotions. The brute expression of his style returns to prehistoric creation: the marking of the landscape engenders a dialogue between the artist and nature. Exposed to the cosmos, Palaeolithic engraving was abandoned, after the action, for its symbolic value, product of the dialogue between ephemeral man and the enduring rock. After the passage of Jean Paul Forest, nature is discreetly marked, signed, designed, humanised.
Rock can also be transported, dissociated from its origin and rendered more real by its association with wood, water and metal. Shuddering of raw stones, dry and hard gashes, opposition to the soft forms of the cobble: all of this is an affective message, directly sensitive to and the expression of a futile boldness against perpetuity.
Marcel OTTE, Professor of Prehistory, for the exhibition " Des pierres, des coutures ", University of Liege, Belgium - 2001