Perpignan – Former mayor Jean-Paul Alduy published a watercolor book: “It’s like a memory letter”

Perpignan – Former mayor Jean-Paul Alduy published a watercolor book: “It’s like a memory letter”

Jean-Paul Alduy, former president of the urban community of Perpignan Méditerranée (2000-2014), senator for 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 by publishing a book of watercolors – Until the last breath. His works were first published on Facebook in 2020 “to stay in touch with the thick of society”. Today, his work is still marked with a political stamp “pizzicato” as he admits.

Jean-Paul Alduy, first of all, why choose such a title for a watercolor book, “Until the last breath” ?

The first title was “Fear of forgetting.” I’m not afraid of death, I’m an atheist so I am “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 for guiding this vestibule towards its final disappearance. Dissecting the landscape is the way to beauty, to spirituality. And I always needed that. Therefore, ultimately, it is not the fear of forgetting that makes me live. Rather, I will remain a thoughtful and fighting citizen until my last breath.

“I never read a speech, it was a bit like a watercolor.”

Now, why use watercolors? Is it a painting technique that requires you to immerse yourself in a bubble of cheerfulness, a character trait far removed from the hyperactivity unleashed during your election mandates?

Listen, I’m going to contradict you. Water colors are quite fast: I took one out of Bryce Canyon (Utah, USA) in less than a minute. Once the juices flow, if you miss, you can’t make it right. And you don’t know what result you will achieve. 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 sometimes it’s a mess for cats. I never read the speech, it was a bit like a watercolor.

Is there a militant act in your art book?

There are politics, that’s for sure. There are drawings of the village, which I offered to the mayors during the senatorial elections in 2001, watercolors on the works I did in Perpignan. When I paint quai Vauban, place République, TGV station, Carmelite nuns’ cloister, Casa Musicale, Visa pour l’Image in the Minimesa monastery, I explain the origin, the path, because nothing was easy. It is a book as a souvenir letter.

"For me "Perpignan Catalan" was plural, proud of its cosmopolitanism, its geopolitics."

“For me, ‘Perpignan la Catalane’ was plural, proud of its cosmopolitanism, its geopolitics.”

National Assembly in Perpignan City Hall 2020: “It hurts me to write and comment on all this”

You write there: “I have to honestly say that this retreat into watercolor production came about in the municipal elections of 2020.” You mention, without naming, the arrival of extreme right-wing candidate Louis Aliot at the head of Perpignan. Did watercolor allow you to exorcise that political component?

No, it’s not trauma. When I saw the disintegration of political thought in our city, and then in the department, it pained me to write and comment on it all. I said to myself: “Jean-Paul, you’ll look like a statue of the Commander, full of sourness. No.” When I saw the “Radiant Perpignan” arrive… (sighs) It was more like an eclipse. I did not mention the name of the new mayor in my book because it is nobody’s problem. But about values: do we find the value of secularism when Saint-Jean-Baptiste shines in the middle of the logo of the City? Projects: for me “Perpignan la Catalane” was plural, proud of its cosmopolitanism, its geopolitics.

"Leaving the position of mayor, barely re-elected, to my first deputy, I undermined everything I had built."

“By leaving the post of barely re-elected mayor to my first deputy, I undermined everything I had built.

In the chapter dedicated to the Théâtre de l’Archipel, you mention your resignation as mayor of Perpignan (2009) in favor of Jean-Marc Pujol, whom you also do not mention, in order to fully invest in the community of the agglomerations. along the lines of: “I regret making this irresponsible decision that should have eluded me with a little lucidity…” Do your watercolors depict a political mea culpa?

But totally! I’m 80 years old, that gives you time to step back. When I look back on this period, I realize that I made a big mistake. People didn’t understand when they just elected me in an impressive way (53.54% of the votes ahead of the socialist Jacqueline Amiel-Donat -33.08% – and the MoDem/Green list of Jean Codognès -13.38%-, editor’s note) to give his scarf I leave it to my first deputy. Somehow they considered it a betrayal. I damaged everything I built. My successor did not have the necessary charisma for the urban project I initiated to find the same dynamics. For me, economic power came from the community of communes. The citizen did not understand him. And when the citizen does not understand, you are wrong. It’s a political mistake. I conquered my guilt. My mistake led to the arrival of the National Assembly in the town hall of Perpignan.

"I am surrounded by love, I am healthy.  Bitterness is not allowed."

“I am surrounded by love, I am healthy. Bitterness is not allowed.”

You say that you are not afraid of death, but that you are “afraid of oblivion”. Does your erasure in collective memory scare you to the point that you have to follow it?

No, but that is the fate of all politicians who believe they have eternal life. You have to accept it. Until your last breath, you must have something to live on, do watercolors, offer analysis. And at the same time knowing that the trail will disappear. At the beginning of the book I worry about the air pocket I had. In the end, with the delay in the production of the book, I reassure myself because it is normal to forget everything. I am surrounded by love, I am healthy. Bitterness is not allowed.

You end your book with a watercolor of the vault of the Alduy family in Palalda and these words: “Here I will rest after my last breath…” Are you not handing over a deed of will here?

No, it’s not a will, I hope to write others! I realized the genealogical tree of the Alduy family in several copies up to the year 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 is my father, Paul. Quite naturally, I will go see them when my last breath comes.

This Friday, December 2, 2022 at 6 p.m., at the Torcatis bookstore in Perpignan, a meeting with Jean-Paul Alduy about his book “To the last breath” published by Les presses littéraires, 172 pages, 24 euros.

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