Born in 1938 in Montpellier, Vincent Bioulès studied at the Paris School of Fine Arts. Focusing on abstract painting in the early part of his career, he moved away from the form in the 1970s to concentrate on figurative work. He exhibits regularly in France. His works can be seen in museums such as the Georges Pompidou Center and the Fabre museum in Montpellier.
How did you set about the commission from the Colas Foundation?
At first every commission seems like a shackle. But very soon, the feeling of being a prisoner with a set of rules to follow – subject, format, time-scale – is replaced by a feeling of inner liberation. Because, paradoxically, the challenge is to invent and let your imagination run riot. I wanted to avoid painting a road in perspective, which is far too prosaic. So I imagined all those people who walk to Santiago de Compostela and have come up with a road that is both material and spiritual.
What did you want to convey with this road rising up into the sky?
The road starts by winding its way through an austere landscape of scrubland before, under the dark light of the moon, being transformed into a road that is celestial and transparent. I thought about that rallying cry, in the language of the Middle Ages, with which the pilgrims greet each other when they meet: “Ultreïa!” meaning “Onward and upward”, i.e. head off to lose oneself and then find oneself. I wanted to illustrate this symbolism of pushing oneself to the limits experienced by people setting off on a journey by road, irrespective of the initial direction chosen.
Your painting immediately calls to mind a starry night sky. Why?
The Milky Way and the Route to Santiago de Compostela have always been inextricably linked in the minds of the Santiago pilgrims. I myself am very sensitive to the musical form of Nocturne and the poetry of this theme in painting. With the variations in blue and the use of transparent glazes, I sought to reproduce the night light, one that is somber and yet mysteriously bright from within.