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André-Pierre Arnal
  • Artist (1939)

Born in Nîmes in 1939, André-Pierre Arnal has developed a twofold activity of painter and writer, the latter fuelled by a career as a teacher of French for more than thirty years. He was trained in the visual arts at the Montpellier School of Fine Arts, where he discovered Matisse, the American abstract painters, and Paul Klee. This liking for painting, experimentation and writing  is conveyed in both pictorial works, which explore many different visual operations, and in almost 200 “unique books” which associate hand-written poetic texts and abstract compositions, including  Lignes de mains/Hand Lines, produced in 1990 for the exhibition Supports/Surfaces le bel âge, held at Chambord castle. After his early Monotypes in the 1960s, Arnal focused on series of ‘folds’ on canvas, which linked him with the concerns of the Supports/Surfaces group:  conceptually and visually breaking down and analyzing the components of the work of art. Rather than working on the support with lines and signs, the artist incorporated the canvas itself in the process of creating the work. He folded it, crumpled it, and tied it with string. What resulted from these empirical manipulations was structures and grids which made surface, colour and “motif” merge. The artist then explored a wide variety of supports and media (cotton fabric, school slate) and techniques ranging from the stencil to the collage, by way of  froissage/crumpling, fripage/creasing and arrachement/tearing in the 1980s. He methodically grouped each one of these operations in specific series of works. In those involving tearing, which result from the removal of a fabric applied until dry on a previously painted surface, the medium/support, the colour, the coats of paints and the act of tearing were all conceived as dynamic events producing the picture. This latter accordingly became the un-retouched trace of its genesis. Next came oblique tears and manipulations of road maps which led to more complex works. André-Pierre Arnal’s work has been regularly exhibited since the 1960s, and many of his works belong to major public collections.

Nadine Labedade