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Narayama, 1984

Georges Noël
  • Artist (1924 - 2010)

Georges Noël (1924-2010), who was involved with the Resistance during the German occupation and then worked as a draughtsman and designer for an aeronautical company in the 1950s, decided to turn to art in 1955. The son of a craftsman working with mock timber and mock marble, and the grandson of a painter who restored churches, he followed the path of his predecessors, resigned from his job and went to set up home in Paris, where he discovered the work of Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock, Paul Klee, and Lucio Fontana. He practiced a matierist style of painting which he developed with his fingers, hands and non-traditional tools. He also used retrieved and recycled materials which he covered with paste before mixing them with paint (Voiles d’Ophélie). In 1958 he decided to use polyvinyl acetate which he mixed with natural pigments and crushed flint, which enabled him to obtain a stronger paint. He then developed the palimpsest concept, working on the basis of layers and erasure, which led him to an energetic and fast style. Associated in no time with the Ecole de Paris, and keen not to let himself be confined to that movement, he went to New York in 1968. After his discovery of Minimal Art, Georges Noël, who chiseled the paste of his pictures in order to engrave a kind of writing into the glue and the pigments, veered more towards rough-and-readiness and austerity in series with clear, geometric forms, which gradually prompted him to try his hand at sculpture. When he returned to Paris in 1983, a major exhibition of sculptures was held at Sénanque Abbey. For Georges Noël what mattered was achieving two goals: the first to empty out everything that was known in painting and go back to origins—origins of painting and of oneself; the second, to bring forth the signs of paint, by leaving learned know-how to one side. The painter in this way becomes a kind of magician, a medium through whom the world in its global nature delivers its meaning.