Jean-Paul Alduy, former president of the Perpignan Méditerranée urban community (2000-2014), senator for the Pyrénées-Orientales (2001-2011), mayor of Perpignan (1993-2009) and general councilor of the department (1992-1998) , returns to the forefront of the media scene on an artistic basis with the publication of his book of watercolors “Until my last breath.” His works were first published on Facebook as early as 2020 “to keep in touch with the thickness of society.” Today, his work is nonetheless marked by a political imprint “to pizzicato” as he concedes.
Jean-Paul Alduy, first of all, why choose such a title for a book of watercolors, “Until my last breath” ?
The first title was “The fear of oblivion.” I’m not afraid of death, I’m an atheist so for me “You were born dust and you will become dust again.” Social death somewhere, you have to accept it. And painting, like drawing, was a form of therapy to manage this antechamber towards final disappearance. Dissecting a landscape is a path to beauty, to spirituality. And that I have always needed. It is therefore ultimately not the fear of oblivion that makes me live. It is rather that until my last breath I will remain a thoughtful and militant citizen.
Now, why the use of watercolour? Is it a painting technique that requires you to immerse yourself in a bubble of serenity, a character trait far from the hyperactivity released during your elective mandates?
Listen, I’m going to contradict you. Watercolors are quite fast: I got one out of Bryce Canyon (Utah, USA) in less than a minute. Once the juices are out, if you miss, you can’t correct. And you don’t know what result you’re going to get. There is a kind of mystery. It’s like a political speech: the sentences come, sometimes you know how to land when you have to, and other times it’s porridge for the cats. I have never read a speech, it was a bit like a watercolour.
Is there a militant act in your artistic book?
There is politics, that’s for sure. There are drawings of villages, which I offered to mayors during the 2001 senatorial elections, watercolors on the works I made in Perpignan. When I paint the quai Vauban, the place République, the TGV station, the cloister of the Carmelites, the Casa Musicale, Visa pour l’Image in the convent of the Minimes, I explain the genesis, the path, because nothing has been easy. It is a book like a souvenir letter.
The National Rally at the town hall of Perpignan in 2020: “It hurt me to write and comment on all this”
You write there: “I must truthfully say that this withdrawal into the production of watercolors originated in the municipal elections of 2020.” You mention without naming it the arrival of the far-right elected Louis Aliot at the head of Perpignan. Did watercolor allow you to exorcise this political component?
No, it’s not a trauma. When I saw the disintegration of political thought in our city and then our department, it hurt me to write and comment on all that. I said to myself : “Jean-Paul, you’re going to look like the statue of the Commander, full of sourness. No.” When I saw “Radiant Perpignan” arrive… (he sighs) It was more like an eclipse. I didn’t mention the name of the new mayor in my book because it’s no one’s problem. But of values: do we find the value of secularism when Saint-Jean-Baptiste is radiant in the middle of the City’s logo? Projects: for me “Perpignan la Catalane” was plural, proud of its cosmopolitanism, of its geopolitics.
In the chapter granted to the Théâtre de l’Archipel, you mention your resignation from the mandate of mayor of Perpignan (2009) in favor of Jean-Marc Pujol, whom you do not mention either, to invest yourself fully in the community of agglomeration as follows: “I am sorry to have taken this irresponsible decision that a little lucidity should have avoided me…” Do your watercolors reflect a political mea culpa?
But totally! I am 80 years old, it gives you time to step back. When I look back on this period, I realize that I made a big mistake. People did not understand when they had just elected me in an impressive way (53.54% of the vote ahead of the socialist Jacqueline Amiel-Donat -33.08% – and the MoDem / Greens list of Jean Codognès -13 ,38%-, Editor’s note) that I leave my scarf to my first assistant. Somehow they considered it a treachery. I damaged everything I built. My successor did not have the necessary charisma for the urban project that I launched to find the same dynamic. For me, the economic power came from the community of communes. The citizen did not understand him. And when the citizen does not understand, it is you who are wrong. It is a political mistake. I beat my guilt. My mistake led to the arrival of the National Rally at the town hall of Perpignan.
You say you don’t fear death but are “afraid of oblivion.” Does your erasure in the collective memory frighten you to the point of needing to keep track?
No, but that’s the lot of all politicians who believe they have eternal life. You have to accept it. Until the last breath, you have to have something to live, a watercolor to do, an analysis to offer. And at the same time, knowing that the trace will disappear. At the beginning of the book, it worries me because of the air pocket I had. At the end less, by advancing in the production of the book, I reassure myself because it is normal that everything is forgotten. I am surrounded by love, I am healthy. Bitterness is not allowed.
You end your book with a watercolor of the Alduy family vault in Palalda and these words: “To rest here after my last breath…” Are you not delivering a testament work here?
No it’s not a testament, I hope to write others! I realized the genealogical tree of the Alduy family in several copies up to 1600 but these books will be intended for my children, my grandchildren, and those who will come after. I thought it was good to end like this. Captain François Alduy, the son of one of my grandfather’s brothers, who died in 1914 and who had the Legion of Honor, rests there. My mother, Jacqueline, is there, as well as my father, Paul. Quite naturally, I will go to see them when my last breath will have arrived.