Raphaël Toussaint
by Edouard Mac Avoy - President of the "Salon d'Automne"

Really ? Indeed ! So you would like to persuade me that Toussaint is naive ! You only have to glance at his work to realize that he is a highly skilled painter, his technique is unrivalled ! And you still want me to call him naive.

I find this present-day habit of pigeon-holing artists as if they were no better than a monthly bank statement – glanced at, filed and then forgotten – irritating to say the least.

Raphaël Toussaint is a painter who says what he has to say and who uses his own unique language to do it. And there’s an end to it !

Except in his case, the language he uses is refined, incomparably delicate and there is a perfect match between what he says and the way he says it.

Even if there is nobody quite like him out there at the moment, this doesn’t stop his having brothers, cousins, uncles, grandparents, a family tree. And finding out something about our ancestors is a most worthy occupation, especially when we consider that we carry on where our forefathers left off. In my view, dear Raphaël, you are a direct descendant of Jan Breughel (1568 – 1625) who is renowned for his soft, rich brushwork.

Pieter is perhaps of a rougher disposition than you yourself, but all three of you are of the same pedigree !

Jan has left you with this wonderment at life, with an honesty in your portrayals. No drugs or violence here, not the slightest hint of a motor car in any of the pictures that I’ve had the chance to see. You stopped the clock at just the right moment or rather, you knew exactly how to revive a gentler France, a France that has never heard of petrol or pollution, a France where people still go to church and listen to church bells pealing out into the soft Sunday sky and say to each other, « Yes, it’s going to be a fine afternoon ».

You say that your work torments you, but you wouldn’t be the artist that you are if you didn’t sometimes doubt. Let me just say that the risks you take with your work remain elegantly hidden to the eye, and that counts.

Your message, Jan’s delicious legacy is this : life is most beautiful, women are joyous companions, work is a happy task ! We thank you for this in more ways than one. Your work restores and heals us, in it are those real values which we should hold on to throughout life. There is this quiet, undying conviction that real happiness is to be found in simplicity and not in money which is inevitably a false friend.

The existence of art such as yours in this age of the machine, this age of fear and dread, dear Raphaël, brings us closer to the Angels…

August 1990