“I don’t have time to waste, I won’t do it.” was Palézieux’s response when I first approached him about this project. The well-established Swiss painter was in his early eighties when I was commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs Valais to make a short documentary about him; I was 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.
Script, direction, editing Marie-Noële Guex
Camera, steadicam operator Henri Montavon
With Gérard Palézieux, Maurice Chappaz, Michel Fonteyne, Madeleine Palézieux
Support for this project has been provided by SERVICE DE LA CULTURE DE L'ETAT DU VALAIS (CH)
Copyright © 2023 Marie-Noële Guex - All Rights Reserved.