Olivier Mosset... Motorcycle Lover


Two years ago , we published with the help of my friend Emmanuel Brunet a first post about Olivier Mosset. A few months ago, Emmanuel sent me what we could qualify as an "Essay" talking about the same Guy - Olivier Mosset - but not only... Emmanuel was talking about his vision of art in general... I found this text very intense and so clear, I wanted to post this one too...

thank you Emmanuel

In 1977 our friend Emmanuel Brunet was an 18 year old Fine Arts Student, in Bordeaux, when he became fascinated by the discovery of a bold & irreverent text, published by an artistic movement, known as the BMPT, in 1967.

Emmanuel says:
The BMPT, was a bunch of guys formed by Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier & Neil Toroni. These guys were creating murals, painting black circles over white backgrounds or black vertical stripes over white surfaces. They liked to consider themselves : the "Ground Zero of Painting"

The text red: "As painting is a game, as paint is tuning or detuning colors. As paint is applying (consciously or not) rules for composition. As painting is enhancing the gesture. As painting is representing the outside (or interpreting it, or appropriating it, or showing it!). As painting is offering a springboard for imagination. As painting is illustrating the interiority. Because painting is a justification. As paint is useful. As painting is done according to the rules of aesthetics, flowers, women, eroticism, the everyday environment, art, dada, psychoanalysis, war in Vietnam... WE ARE NOT PAINTERS. "

The BMTP, wanted to get loose on form convictions, or any other artistic structure aimed to limit the path or space for any painted expression to be classified as art. They refused to be considered painters. They just wanted to be seen as a group of people that exhibited their work in galleries.

Emmanuel says:
For me this bunch were just another reflection of the nihilist punk reasoning that was exploding across world culture In 1977. Punk bands were growing like shrooms, and the band members were not musicians! They were just groups of guys that played loud music. Their tempos were fast and slang. Their messages were rude and scarce.
Like the BMPT bunch they yelled... WE ARE NOT MUSICIANS!

The spark that ignited this essay, was the casual find of Harley Davidson Chopper picture, belonging to a certain Olivier Mosset. The bike showed a tank paint in a rugged Jackson Pollock style. Some research after I had already found a portrait of Olivier, while living in the USA(Tucson AZ.), with the bike & himself styling a neat perfect biker look. The finding provoked my surprise, as I found interesting how our "No Painter" from the 70's, had evolved from the most minimal of minimalisms to an over the top custom chopper habitude.

This incongruence, (only so if we applied a simplistic eye), in O.Mosset's endeavor, gave me a second thought. The history of Harley Davidson has rocketed through time since its early 1900s birth, and has meant and served as many symbols, icons or ideals to different generations. In a way I realized that a Harley Chopper was not just a motorcycle, as the BMPT were not painters or the punksters were not musicians!

At the time, the B.M.P.T.'s aim, was to demonstrate how derisory in the arts, is the cult of personality. They loved to play hide and seek, sometimes, showing off how their paintings were dominated by the style of another member of the group.It is just the same with a Harley modifying culture, There is an author, a spark, in all currents, but his "work is all over the place" and the status of its creator fades away.

Like Olivier Mosset - talking of himself as an"artist before being a painter" - based on the principles of neutrality, deletion and radicalism, I always questioned the logics & limits of painting. The same logic is applied when my path crosses that of a biker. I always have this strange feeling: "That's the kind of a biker who's not just a biker..!".

I guess you might feel the same.


Olivier Mosset is born in 1944 in Berne, He lives and works inTucson (Arizona). Member of BMTP group in 1966 with Daniel Buren, Niele Toroni and Michel Parmentier,first installed in NYC in 1977. Bibliography : Olivier Mosset : Travaux 1966-2003/Arbeiten 1966-2003/Works 1966-2003, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne - Kunstverein St Gallen, 2003.

Emmanuel Brunet lives in Paris, is creative Director at Baurepaire Agency and fashion Magazine Technikart Mademoiselle

Thanks a lot to El Solitario for the heroic translation