Born in 1936, Mario Mercier is mostly known by movie buffs for his full-length films Erotic Witchcraft (La Goulve, 1972) and A Woman Possessed (La Papesse, 1974). These two films were very difficult to find, and still more difficult to view. They were presented in underground theaters in France and Quebec during the seventies. Mario Mercier was no doubt displeased with the type of criticism given to him, as well as that by the specialized French press, which didn’t seem to appreciate his films.
Mario Mercier steeped himself in the very rich French tradition of writer-filmmakers, such as Fernando Arrabal, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jean Rollin, or José Larraz. It’s scarcely surprising, in my opinion, as many filmmakers of the European fantastique show inventiveness and an indisputable aesthetic sense- the fruits of a reflection that one can follow traces of in their writings. For example, the understanding of the film work of Jean Rollin resides, to me, in the frequenting of his literary work. There is not one without the other. It is the same with Robbe-Grillet. When I learned that Mario Mercier was a writer, I immediately began inquiring about and trying to obtain his books. This was difficult on all fronts: Two of the books had been censured by the French, one was in a collection of stories by a marginal publishing company, and one book was practically lost. These searches taught me that Mario Mercier had equally published numerous works on reflection, and the spiritual search…
Color restored stills from “La Goulve” written and directed by Mario Mercier 1972
“These drawings are are a surprising balancing act between the esoteric art and the historic art of the Fauves and the history they perpetuated” said New York “occult art” dealer Stephen Romano, who’se curatorial credits include “Opus Hypnagogia” at Morbid Anatomy Museum (see the review in the New York Times), “Magica Sexualis” co-curated with artist Barry William Hale which was deemed the best occult culture event of 2015 by Spiral Nature, among many others. “This work feels to have been born as hybrid of the Fauves, HAXAN, Jacob Bohme and Carlos Casteneda, and a true concern and advocacy for spiritual growth and healing rather than SCHOCK / POP varitety of so called “horror art” we see perpetuated today. “
Romano added ” I have a collection of Mario Mercier ephemera. His cinematic masterpiece “La Goulve” from 1972 is a masterpiece of esoteric erotica and was decades ahead of it’s time. Like most true visionaries however, such as William Mortnesen and Darcilio Lima, he was too much for his time, too much to be digested by the audience, and was subsequently left unacknowledged for the genius his slim catalog of films allude to.” … continue reading
Color restored stills from “La Goulve” written and directed by Mario Mercier 1972
“The truth is, Mario Mercier’s oeuvre belongs in a special Parthenon of artist who’s role is as shaman in opur culture, to use art as a weapon against the shrinking and dumbing down of our consciousness, and instead an attempt to empower the artist and viewer alike with a higher purpose, one of the healer, the conduit by which we are unified, not separated and pitted against one another because of our difference. The role of the artist as shaman is to re-inject the sense of hopefulness, optimist, wonder and magic into our culture. This is what Mario Mercier’s works, be they his early cinematic efforts, his novels or his drawings were intended for..”
Aeron Alfrey, who directs the popular site monsterbrains.com said of Mario Mercier’s art: “The work of Mario Mercier is haunted by featureless mannequin like characters drifting through fragmented dreamscapes. The charcoal medium plays into the idea that each scene is filled with whisps of smoke, ghostly forms solidified into deranged configurations. The warped symbology of dream logic is strewn through narrative moments of unknowable events, leaving behind questions better left unanswered.”
New York artist and singer Alexis Karl, who’se artwork was exhibited alongside vintage press photos (see below) of Mario Mercier’s “La Goulve” in BLAM Gallery’s “Materia Prima” exhibition, said of the works: “Mario’s work is like dream-walking into another world.. one that seems to hold the arcane secrets of sex and magic, one that dives into darker realms of consciousness and thrums with the essence of ritual. He is myth writing, quietly reminding us of tales we have always know, but have somehow, in this loud urban world, managed to forget.”
Artist Barry William Hale, who’se art practice includes ritual elements and exhibited alongside lobby cards of Mario Mercier’s “La Goulve” at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn said the following in response to Mercier’s drawings:
“Mario Mercier is infamous for illuminating tales of Witchcraft, Magick & Possession on controversial Celluloid’. Lesser know is the dark ‘Chamanic’ world of his Charcoal drawings which speak in images of a dark and personal spiritual world which seems to exist in a liminal Arcadia somewhere between the celestial and chthonic. In his drawing we see the exotic esoterica of his film making expressed in the sensuality of line, and dreamlike quality which seems to illustrate an elaborate and deeply personal mythical narrative.
His choice of medium is deliberate and elemental, from the charred wood of the Shaman’s fire that his shadowy visions are drawn on the parchment cave walls of his psych.”
stills from “La Goulve” written and directed by Mario Mercier 1972
MON ART CHAMANIQUE
Pour ce qui est de ces créations graphiques exprimant ici une relation avec le
chamanisme, cet état d’être et de faire, je me suis servi, pour une accentuation
graphique, d’une matière pulvérulente peu reconnue encore, mais si près de la
nature, matière issue directement du bois, portant le nom de fusain.
Par lui, par ce noir qu’il exprime et sur lequel je n’ai cessé de jouer sur ses valeurs,
bien qu’elles soient limitatives, de jouer en une sonate visuelle sur ses variations
d’ambiance en passant du noir profond au noir léger, du gris, plus ou moins
dégradé, tout en renforçant ses effets par des plages de blancs que viennent parfois
velouter l’usage de craies blanches en l’occurrence.
Ainsi, les sujets traités avec une certaine liberté de lignes, propres à mon style, sont
surtout basés sur une démarche visionnaire dans laquelle l’humour, ce rire de la
pensée, n’est pas exclu.
C’est dans l’arrière-boutique de l’esprit, de mon esprit mêlé à un certain vécu dit
chamanique, que j’ai voulu lui donner une base d’authenticité d’un vécu par-delà
cette vie conventionnelle dans laquelle sont mêlés les mouvements du rêve.
Tout en rendant compte de mon travail graphique, je ne peux m’empêcher de
penser, entre autres, au peintre et illustrateur Odilon Redon, célèbre non seulement
pour la magie de ses couleurs, huiles et pastels, mais aussi par ses lithographies et
par ce qu’il appelait ses noirs qui sont les fusains dont l’usage de sa matière fut
désennoblie à son époque.
Ainsi dans ses notes n’écrit-il pas, au sujet du fusain notamment :
« Il faut respecter le noir (il parle surtout de ses fusains), rien ne le prostitue… Il est agent de
l’esprit bien plus que la plus belle couleur de la palette ou du prisme. »
Bien que je sois aussi un fou de la couleur, ces noirs que je pratique, m’ont permis
de renforcer et d’exalter les pouvoirs si mystérieux et si surprenants de la pratique
de cet autre dimension magique de l’esprit qu’est le chamanisme en relation,
notamment, avec la Nature.
Je conclurai par cette réflexion du peintre Millet, lequel inspira quelques œuvres de
Van Gogh, qui disait : « Dans l’art, il faut y mettre sa peau ».
Pour ma part, j’ai la chance d’avoir plusieurs peaux dont celle-ci participe du noir,
et de pouvoir muer à volonté ; peaux dont l’une d’elles est celle que j’ai laissée par
la pratique de ces fusains portant le titre que l’on sait et que je dédie à celui qui fut
mon maître, Edouard Fer qui m’a appris à avoir une ouverture et une certaine
maîtrise de mon art mais aussi « à voir et à aimer ».
MY CHAMANIC ART
Regarding these graphic creations, expressing here a relationship with
Shamanism, this state of being and doing, I used, for an accentuation
Graphic, of a pulverulent matter not yet recognized, but so close to the
Nature, material coming directly from the wood, bearing the name of charcoal.
Through him, through this blackness he expresses and on which I have never ceased to play on his values, Although they are limiting, to play a visual sonata on its variations
From deep black to light black, gray, more or less
Degraded, while reinforcing its effects by white beaches sometimes
Velter the use of white chalk in this case.
Thus, the subjects treated with a certain freedom of lines, proper to my style, are
Primarily based on a visionary approach in which humor, this laughter of the
Thought is not excluded.
It is in the back-shop of the mind, of my mind mingled with a certain experience
Shamanic, that I wanted to give it a basis of authenticity of a lived beyond
This conventional life in which the movements of the dream are mingled.
While reporting on my graphic work, I can not help but
Think, among others, to the painter and illustrator Odilon Redon, not only famous
For the magic of its colors, oils and pastels, but also by its lithographs and
By what he called his blacks, which are the charcoals whose use of his material was
Disillusioned in his time.
Thus, in his notes, he writes, notably about charcoal:
“We must respect the black (he speaks especially of his charcoal), nothing prostitutes him … He is a
The mind much more than the most beautiful color of the palette or prism. ”
Although I am also a madman of color, these blacks whom I practice, have allowed me
To reinforce and exalt the mysterious and surprising powers of the practice
Of this other magical dimension of the spirit that is shamanism in relation,
In particular, with Nature.
I will conclude with the reflection of the painter Millet, who inspired
Van Gogh, who said: “In art, one must put one’s skin on it.”
For my part, I am lucky to have several skins of which this one participates in black,
And of being able to moult at will; Skins, one of which is the one I left behind
The practice of these charcoals bearing the title that we know and dedicate to the one who was
My teacher, Edouard Fer who taught me to have an opening and a certain
Mastery of my art but also “to see and to love”.
The works titles are drawn into the art itself.