The curve that follows the development of an artistic style or movement seems to go from simplicity to complexity: The capitals of Greek columns start with the formal purity of the Doric style then move to the enrichment of the Ionic, to end up with the intricate exuberance of the Corinthian style. Early gothic leads gradually to the flamboyant style, and the neo-classical style of the Renaissance extends to the Baroque and explodes into the excessive Rococo.
Michel Haillard’s furniture could be characterised as creations of an exotic, paradoxical Baroque design. Design, which initially meant draft or drawing, and strikes a balance in French between «dessin» and «dessein» — is defined in the Robert dictionary as the «search for new forms adapted to their function.» The word Baroque is derived from the Portuguese «barroco» (rolling the r’s), which means irregular or wild pearl. Synonyms given by the Robert include: bizarre, eccentric and irregular.
Michel Haillard’s furniture manages to combine these two notions with an astonishing mastery of inspiration. Are his armchairs, chests of drawers and couches functional? Certainly so: the armchairs are thrones for tribal chiefs, dignitaries full of their own self importance or people who are fully aware of the value of due decorum; the chests of drawers are caskets for documents or valuables and secrets; the sofas can only accommodate couples with as tousled, yet externally controlled passions, as the symmetrical and balanced tangle of their forms and constituent elements.
Michel Haillard has been collecting these elements for years as they surfaced during his explorations and investigations.
Exploration is the right word because of what his calls his «tribale pursuite» (an eccentric term that reflects perfectly the character of his works): both wild (because pleasantly perverted) and playful (because it does not exclude humour to the second degree). Haillard combines the indisputable natural dimension of his materials — corns or tusks of different origin, skins of leopard, crocodiles and zebras which have already delighted several generations of hunts — with a whimsical spirit, unbridled imagination, a manifest nostalgia for pomp and irony. His ‘pursuit’ is concurrently a coherent, deliberately extended creation of the unexpected, the unusual, while being tribal by its haughty, aristocratic character, retaining all the while an underlying, non-confessed awareness of excess.
Michel Haillard is (look at his picture) a rather giggling Viking who has emerged from his mists, stunned by the multicolour effects of the fleeces and horns of exotic animals, all the more fascinating as they are strictly ‘natural’. Is he an artist or simply an ‘assembler’? Unquestionably an artist, owing to his ever so personal way of transmuting objects of nature that fall into his hands, subjecting them to new functions (Marcel Duchamp could be his uncle) and, instead of de-naturing them, vesting them with an unsuspected functional nobility. In his work, two styles, two sources of inspiration, two uses of an artistic creation meet, finding their agreement and unity in the phantasmagorical vision of an artist who, instead of yielding to the imperatives of his materials, bends them to the piercing quality of his creative mind.