Palézieux, un regard hors du temps
25′, B/W, french
Script, direction, editing Marie N. Guex, camera & steadicam operator HENRI MONTAVON, featuring GERARD PALEZIEUX, MAURICE CHAPPAZ, MICHEL FONTEYNE, MADELEINE PALEZIEUX
“I don’t have time to waste, I won’t do it!” was Palézieux’s response when I first approached him about this project. When I was commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs Valais to make a short documentary about this well-established Swiss painter, he was already in his early eighties and I was just in my late twenties. At the time I knew nothing about art, let alone Palézieux. I looked up reproductions of his work and discovered mostly landscapes, barns, old houses; humble subjects most people wouldn’t give any attention. I was immediately moved. Palézieux was a focused man, much sought after, and very aware of the priceless value of time.
When I went back to him with a half-page summary of my impression of him, he was more receptive. “Mmmh, that’s pretty accurate,” he told me. “Let’s do it, but I don’t want to be filmed when I paint, I don’t want any interview on camera, and I can only give you a day and a half.” That worked for me; I didn’t have much of a choice anyway.
It turned out Palézieux gave me more than that; with him, I peeked at the mystery that transforms matter into art, I learned the efficiency of silence and simplicity, and that boundaries, when you accept them, become a creative asset. And while his words were immediately comprehensible, they also conveyed a wisdom that grew and resonated over time, a valuable and renewable fuel that feeds you for life.
For many years after we met, I would occasionally receive a note from him asking very gently if he could get another VHS copy of the film, a “reel,” as he called it. He would always send a painting or a print in return. On top of being a wonderful artist, Palézieux was a very generous, caring and loving man. I will always remember him fondly.