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Provenant, 1982-1983

Christian Bonnefoi
  • Artist (1948)

The work of the French painter Christian Bonnefoi (born in 1948 in Salindres) in based on the observation of the total autonomy of the “painting” object.  Within the legacy of Minimal Art, he takes the forming elements to pieces.  “The problem is to act in such a way that the equipment used (tools, pigments, textures, gestures…) is previously analyzed in and by the painting…”, says the artist.  Since his first collages produced in the 1970s, his analytical approach displays the way in which the picture is put together.  Its surface is actually conceived as a depth to be constructed and not as a flatness to be demonstrated.  In the series Babel, through the use of transparent and porous kinds of matter such as silk paper and tarlatan, he applies a collage practice which scrupulously reflects every stage of the process:  the application of the glue, the impregnation, and the superpositions which he makes on both sides of the surface.  The work Provenant, from the FRAC Centre collection, is part of a production of large-format works created from bits of paper, glue, paint and graphite, which question the surface-plane of the canvas.  The purpose is to bring out the surface by constructing together the visual acts produced by the artist and “the appearance of the visible”.  So these transparent tarlatans, these layers, these interweaves of brands of colours do not come from the covering of a previous background but become a sort of skin of paint that has become a surface effect.  Since 2000, the boundaries of the picture have been exploding in the painter’s work, and the silk paper collages are freely scattered on walls (Ludo series).  In 2008, the Centre Pompidou held the first retrospective of the artist’s work, under the title Christian Bonnefoi—L’apparition du visible/The Appearance of the Visible, and a very large number of exhibitions throughout the world have staked out this painter’s career.  He also, incidentally, has a PhD in art history, and is the author of critical texts.

Nadine Labedade