Arcabas was the only artist who worked more than thirty years to decorate the Church of Saint-Hugues in three stages. He abandoned and then resumed the work of this unique set of art which is among the most ardent achievements, but also the most successful of contemporary sacred art.
First Intervention 1953 - 1967: early work in austere :
Arcabas was 25 years old when he freely undertook the decoration of the church of Saint-Hugues.
Work began in June 1952, when a survey in the walls revealed early on a porosity which excluded to the chagrin of the painter, the ability to create frescos.
However, the interior design was restored to its original nakedness and simultaneously receives its final dominant large jute canvases that surrounded the perimeter of the central aisle, leaping over the side chapels to close the loop. Involvement in this colorful plane of transverse arches and columns corbelled shows this first set as a large boat overturned. The red band (144 m²) in burlap painted with honey and egg evokes in turn , human life punctuated by the law of Moses from birth to death, the woman adultery, and Resurrection of Lazarus the Last Supper, in the apse of 4 meters tall, black and white on a red background. Bias also including the monumental doors studded oak copper, stained glass, inlaid brass, bronze tabernacle carried by an angel carved in stone, Moses Stone Villette, wrought iron candelabras, the altar made of Russian marble.
Coronation 1973 - 1985 : 20 years after maturity :
On the theme of Psalm 150 "Praise the Lord", Arcabas sings his joy by painting the upper band , composed of 31 linen cloth on frame, one meter high crowning any previous work. Using all the colors in the petrified sand and gold, this band composed variations on a few simple visual themes, symbolic of human behavior. In the apse, capping the Last Supper, stand angels bearing the instruments of Passion therefore performed as a solemn procession to the great resurrection of the back of the church to which they face.
Followed by : Skull of Adam ( lime and gilded with fine gold), Pietà ( canvas) , the Coronation of the Virgin ( woodcut ) and the Liberation of the Apostle Peter ( canvas).
Third operation, 1985 - 1991 :
53 paintings 65 cm up the Predella, (a series of small paintings or sculptures in a long narrow strip forming the lower edge of an altarpiece or the face of an altar step or platform) with a powerful topical character.
The paintings at eye level along a this band whisper their content to each other according to its own quest. Some of the expressions are a bit barbaric emerging in some of the paintings and reflect the archaic tendency of contemporary art, but also the profound artistic daily poetic freedom.
The baptismal font (tank bronze and acrylic cover glass ) and the crucified Christ ( bronze sculpture ) complete this 111 works became county museum in 1984, while maintaining its cult vocation. Here is the church of St. Hugues de Chartreuse range in architectural and unitary composition , announcing himself at the threshold , with its sumptuous color , like a hymn of joy to the Father.
The astonishment that at least causes the air freedom is that of a forgetful century spiritual values which, little by little, remember that the most humble of the three transcendental, the Beautiful, sought with love and fidelity, can testify as the True and the Good of the splendor of the Face of God.
Professor of Philosophy
University of Quebec, Montreal
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