THE LIFE OF SIGNS
Calligraphic experimentation accounts for a vast portion of Michaux’s graphic output. Fascinated by Easterm scripts, and above all by Chinese ideograms, the artist worked from the beginning on the creation of invented alphabets with no phonetic or semantic correlation. These signs, Michaux said, are an always incomplete poetry, a literature of gesture and impulse, and the dance of the penstroke. At the same time, the flurry of strokes follows a continuous rhythmic principle: each drawing is at once an explosion and a current, a “journey” in many different directions. Michaux cultivated his interest in pictographic scripts at the same time as he developed his passion for sound rhythms and patterns. Although he was a keen amateur musician, no document remains of his musical practice except for his drawings, which sometimes look like scores. In these works we find an abstract and intimate literature where the signs are figures in constant mutation. On many occasions these signs appear as separate letters, while at other times they develop animal or totemic features; in still further cases, like the period of experimentation with psychoactive substances in the 1950s and 1960s, the lines multiply over large areas of paper, acquiring connotations that align them with the practices of Abstract Expressionism.