Painter and decorator, Mathieu Palhol between gallery and building sites.
“Let here reign the beautiful, the true, the just!” in Saint-Guilhem, the inspired invocation of an illustrious philosopher welcomes the visitor at the entrance to the gallery of Mathieu Palhol, painter and decorator living at the end of the world, or rather in the eponymous street. “I want people to feel good in my cocoon”smiles the master of the place.
From its lair, nestled in the hollow of the narrow artery, radiates an astonishing light. “That’s exactly my job.”, slips this expert in whitewash, stucco, old-fashioned patinas, and other heritage restorations. An artist inhabited by soft music and Italian painting from the 14th and 15th centuries. Gilding, paintings, a series of superb Angels, patiently adorned pilgrims’ staffs set the tone. Here, the sacred is at hand. Luminous, Mathieu Pahlol denies being a fan of spiritualities, a follower of the yoga he practices, a Hispanic musician at times, he lights up.
“Colors are like music, they are vibrations. And since the symphony of the world is rather dissonant at the moment, if we manage to write a few beautiful notes, perhaps the score will be more harmonious“formulates the artist charged with a humble mission: “Go for the beautiful, as best as I can.” He discovered Saint-Guilhem in 2019. “I immediately fell in love with this atmosphere consistent with what I’m looking for. Here, we are a little out of time, it’s the world that comes to us.”
From the heart to the work
The spirit, the sacred that he expresses today, almost in spite of himself, will have slowly infused as he restored ancient heritages, invested body and soul in this task. First in the churches of Fau, Saint-Cernin or Auriac in Cantal or Lot. “I never thought of restoring churches, I’m not a believer, I was more of a party animal… My friends laugh when they see me painting angels. They say to me: ‘There, you’ve freaked out!’ ‘,’ he laughs.
He gladly reassures them. “I can be very festive and able to be as respectful as critical of any religious power,” he says. Nevertheless, believer or not, he confides that a “A kind of peace comes to you when you work alone, in a church for days. A kind of joy that you don’t find elsewhere, on other construction sites.”
Self-taught, the painter and decorator, born in Aurillac, had launched his adventure in interior decoration, for private individuals, bars or others… Encounters, as unexpected as they were decisive, also opened the doors of ancient heritage to him.
And if he always willingly works for individuals, a sacred fire now seems to inhabit him. An impetus that sets the tone for his know-how as a colourist. “I let myself be impregnated by a mystery, a spiritual appetite that everyone has within them, more or less strong. This appetite, today, I listen to it and that gives meaning to this professional conscience that one must have in this job. And it’s rewarded. Because I never thought I’d be able to do what I do. It proves that there’s something that carries you when you do it with your heart… and a bit of audacity.”
A heart, a boldness that he puts to work today in the Hérault, in Saint-Guilhem as elsewhere.
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Hérault: the sacred fire of Mathieu Palhol to discover in his gallery of Saint-Guilhem
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