Francois Arnal: Galerie Jousse Entreprise

By Maldonado, Guitemie | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Francois Arnal: Galerie Jousse Entreprise


Maldonado, Guitemie, Artforum International


Francois Arnal came to painting as an autodidact in 1947, practicing an informal and materialist abstraction, before constructing a pictorial universe of marks and imprints. In 1965, the everyday object entered his painting and brought him a step closer to the Nouveaux Realistes: For each work in his "Bombardements" series, which he continued working on through 1971, one or several objects were placed on the canvas and the whole thing covered in spray paint (in French, peinture a la bombe aerosol); then the objects were taken away so as to preserve only the negative imprint, a white silhouette against a typically black, but sometimes red or green, background, inevitably evoking Man Ray's rayograms, midway between manifestation and erasure of the real. Like Man Ray in his aerographs from the end of the teens, Arnal here seeks to eliminate the painter's traditional tools, his mastery of effects, by creating a painting at a remove, open to the unforeseeable.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A number of the objects utilized suggest do-it-yourself projects: nails, pushpins, paper clips, rubber bands, hinges; most are used to attach things, and yet for the painter, "the spray-painted object is a cut" because, in being wrested from the canvas, it takes away the veil of paint that would cover it, outlines a shape cut from the real and floating in an indeterminate space torn from the intensity of its brilliance. As though to signify this cut, the interstices increase--whether the tiny ones formed by buttonholes in Bombardement de chemise (Bombardment of a Shirt), 1965, or, in Les deux charnieres (The Two Hinges), 1971, the irregular ones that separate the slats of Venetian blinds, constituting the true subject of the work in this canvas where two hinges seem to attach two zones of shadow separated by a fine white line. …

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