Boy Wonder (1958-1963)
The Hermit (1963-1979)
Fury for Painting (1980-1989)
Visson - Public Person (1991-1998)
Visson Returns to his Roots in a Luxury Hotel (1998-2007)

The Hermit (1963-1979)

Washington, Epalinges, Washington,

La Tour-de-Peilz



Visson in the artistic press:

Press clippings

Michel Thévoz, in Outside, Zürich, ABC Verlag, 1980, p.106, as well as in catalogues of museum exhibitions

“(Visson) doesn’t like to give an identity to his faces.  He doesn’t like the visage to have a name, sex, civil status, profession or social role (…)  This is why his paintings is really a machine to “de-face”: to explode the physiognomic façade, to liberate the eyes, the nose, the mouth, as one liberates energy from unstable matter.” 

Marcel Brion de l’Académie Française, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Motte, 1 – 18 February 1972

“… [There is] a resolution that’s perhaps unconscious, but charged with a strong intensity and will, to pay no attention to ‘what’s being done’ (…)  It’s already been 13 years since Philippe Visson’s first paintings persuaded us that this young boy would become—was actually already—an important artist. …The mixture of severe rigor and fleeting impulse that molds his sensibility and his intelligence is traced through lines by which one can’t mistake the curve of his destiny as a painter.  If ever destiny was imposed and directed by what is most unique in each of us, his was perhaps more so than that of anyone else’s.” 

Without fear of fire, and because he is fire, he braves fire.  The security of the inspired and of poets, the certainty of someone who feels himself a painter and above all a painter, will never abandon him: even should he meet them in the shadowy corridors of anguish.”

René Berger, Director Emeritus of the State Museum in Lausanne and President of the International Association of Art Critics, Exhibition cataloge, Galerie Motte, 1 – 18 February 1972

“Expressionism has for a long time however familiarized us with deformations.  But with Visson, it’s not about deformation.  The ‘repetitive image’ that springs from his brush ignores our entrance into the mirror game in which we adjust our forms. (…) Our savagery avows itself bereft of all affectation (but isn’t it that which we sense in the press, on the screen of our television, and that we never really see?).  Modern savagery of the primitives that we are.”

TRIBUNE DE GENEVE, 6 February 1972, Arnold Kohler

“Moreover paradoxically, this painting of disorder bereft of any logic, is not devoid of a secret coherence…  There’s not a single painting of his that isn’t both sumptuous and vertiginous, that doesn’t testify to an undeniable passion like the whirlpool that grabs the swimmer, dragging him towards the abysses of an unfamiliar world.”

L’Impartial, 18 April 1972, M. Sch.

“The landscapes of Philippe Visson (…) are thrown across the canvas in a carnival-like frenzy of colors and forms worthy of a child’s spirit still sheltered from the paralysis that the rigors of teaching engenders.”


"L’Illustré", No. 30, 24 July 1996, pages 34 – 37, Françoise Boulianne, photos Christian Rochat :

“Thus the young man find himself at the Beau Rivage in Lausanne.  (…)  Be it in Lausanne, in Paris, or in New York, he drinks too much.  And when he drinks, he doesn’t create.  (…)  What was bound to happen, happens.  A terrifying bout of delirium that no ultimate drink manages to contain.

On his own, he definitely quits drinking at 21 and, from a wastrel, becomes ascetic.  (…)  It is at this time that the Vissons move into a sumptuous house in Epalinges.  They will spend years without unpacking either cartons or trunks, the piles of old newspapers, the dried up Christmas tree, and the innumerable friends suffuse to furnish it.  [Visson] paints for the sake of painting without interruption.  Hundreds of paintings (…) accumulate.”

Visson stops drinking alone in Washington in 1963, with one brief relapse in 1971 in Switzerland.  His father retires in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the family takes up residence first in the Beau-Rivage and then in a large villa in Epalinges.  After the social world of Washington, the café Society of New York, and the cultural one of Paris, Visson lives in relative seclusion.  He begins a grand production of work, fasting and often spending 48 hours nonstop painting.  He shows to no one but art critics such as Jean Leymarie and René Huyghe, René Berger and Michel Thévoz.  When a gallery owner is sent by one of these critics, Visson reluctantly accepts to exhibit.

Gallery of images:

The Hermit

Principale Exhibitions :

Geneva, Galerie Motte, Switzerland
Lausanne, State Art Museum, "Identities et Their Faces", collective exhibition, Switzerland
Kassel, Staatslisches Museum, collective exhibition, Germany