By Ellen Turner Hall

Open your eyes! What do you see? Too much and nothing. We are regularly distracted by the constant flickering of images on the fragile screen of reality. What is the subject of Laurent Joliton’s paintings?

This question is part of the fascination of the current exhibition at Galerie Odile Oms in Ceret until 12 March 2016.

Joliton’s vigourous brushstrokes dart across the canvasses, layering them with a multitude of greys. In the infinite sea of grey the occasional touch of colour – a pink ribbon, blue hands, orange flames – comes almost as a shock. Many of his portraits are inspired by the news: perpetrators and sufferers of wars and injustice, old and new.

Does a canvas of a man stripped to the waist, knee-deep in a murky stream, spear in hand represent the hunter or the hunted? Are the men launching stones from slingshots amid a street riot the aggressors or the victims? And what is the role of the prostrate man staring over his shoulder into the smoke-filled chaos?

Each picture leaves you with a question. Why does the young woman in wedding dress and veil look so full of doubt? Is she measuring the enormity of those two little words, “I do”? Even the title of “M as in Norma” disrupts our sense of logic. Here is a blond, voluptuous woman, supported by a disembodied hand on her left and with a man in uniform on the right. What invisible forces does this Marilyn figure represent?

Joliton imbues each image with the intensity and turbulence of being human and sends us on an imaginative journey: to see beyond the brushstrokes into the blur of grey which is you and me.

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