Death of the painter André-Pierre Arnal, the Supports-Surfaces movement loses one of its colors

Death of the painter André-Pierre Arnal, the Supports-Surfaces movement loses one of its colors
Death of the painter André-Pierre Arnal, the Supports-Surfaces movement loses one of its colors

DISAPPEARANCE. The Nîmes native, who lived between Paris, the Cévennes and Montpellier, took part in the adventure of the Supports-Surfaces group in 1971 and was a major artist on the contemporary Montpellier scene. He died at the age of 84, leaving his work in the collections of the Musée Fabre.

Folds, color faults, geometry borrowed from nature and rock prisms, soft mosaics, André-Pierre Arnal (1939-2024) is classified, with Claude Viallat, 88 years old, Noël Dolla, 79 years old, and the late Jean-Pierre Pincemin (1944-2005), in the colorful ranks of Supports / Surfaces. In its typology, the Cessons & Bénétière gallery ranks him with the unclassifiable personalities that are Daniel Dezeuze, 82 years old, Louis Cane, 80 years old, and the late Toni Grand (1935-2005), a great original like his native Camargue whose exhibition this spring at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier revealed the incredible universe. It is also in this fine arts museum in Montpellier, created in 1828 by the painter François-Xavier Fabre, that its director, the Cévenol Michel Hilaire, hung the large compositions of André-Pierre Arnal, for its reopening in 2021, alongside the late Pierrette Bloch and Stéphane Bordarier, 71 years old.

“A major artist on the contemporary Montpellier scene, born in 1939 in Nîmes and living between Paris, the Cévennes and Montpellier, André-Pierre Arnal took part in the adventure of the Supports/Surfaces group in 1971. Among the artists of this movement, with their strong political convictions, the use of free canvas, the refusal of the brush, the banality of the material, are all ways of leaving visible and immediately perceptible the way in which the canvas is created. This nudity of the work goes hand in hand with the desire to make art accessible to all, to occupy the democratic public space.”underlines André-Pierre Arnal, A collection (Snoek), book from the Fabre Museum published on the occasion of this collective exhibition.

“In 1970, André-Pierre Arnal took part in the demonstration One hundred artists in the city investing the Opéra Comédie de Montpellier. The same year, he filed several of his “folds” in the streets of Stockholm, in the open air. Echoing these actions, he confided in 1990: “ each of my paintings […] is only one piece of a larger whole that develops in time and space”This is what is magnificently demonstrated by the Arnal collection of the Fabre Museum, composed of eight paintings, the fruit of successive donations from the artist and the Friends of the Fabre Museum, as well as the commitment of the Montpellier Metropolis.explains what, through its presence in the museum’s collections, is now his sanctuary. The Arnal collection of the Fabre Museum is made up of eight paintings, the fruit of successive donations from the artist and the Friends of the Fabre Museum.

“Born in Nîmes in 1939, André-Pierre Arnal works in Paris. Steeped in Mediterranean culture, bathed in the landscapes of the Bas-Languedoc region and the Cévennes, he draws from his dual training, literary and plastic, a dual activity uniting painting and writing experienced and transmitted through the teaching of French for more than thirty years. Served by this dual practice, by the taste for adventurous experimentation of the various aspects of pictorial production, he was able to focus his attention and his research on his own inner journey.”specifies the Ceysson & Bénétière gallery.

“Ted Gahl and André-Pierre Arnal”an exhibition which runs until July 26 in New York at Ceysson & Bénétière.
© Photo Adam Reich, courtesy Ceysson & Bénétière

After a brief stint at the Beaux-Arts in Montpellier, he continued his solitary research in the 1960s, marked by the discovery of Matisse, American abstract artists and especially Paul Klee. “From an exploration of the “monotype” technique, his immoderate taste for popular art objects led him to draw inspiration from them and he would make “paper hen” the starting point of a series of folds on canvas which, in the 1970s, would naturally place him, just like his relationship to language, in the problematic of the Supports/Surfaces group, whose adventure he would share. He takes a stand against an individualistic conception of the artist. The emphasis is placed on the deconstruction of the traditional support of the work whose different components – the frame, the stretcher, the canvas and the color – are considered in their individuality”explains Janesther Szlovak, co-author of André-Pierre Arnal, From mystery to magic (Jean-Pierre Huguet publisher, 2015) work produced in March 2015 on the occasion of the André-Pierre Arnal exhibition, “From mystery to magic” at the Espace Jacques Villeglé in St-Gratien.

“André-Pierre Amal has never stopped bouncing back, exploring an infinite variety of supports – from cotton canvas to school slate – and techniques: monotypes, prints, crumpling, creasing, folding, resist dyeing, tying, rubbing, stencils, tearing, collages, oblique tears. A methodical worker, loving the dynamics of experimentation as well as real anchoring in sensual materials, with an increasingly marked predilection for color, he reinvents the notion of series, by the infinite multiplication of his work as a painter.”he analyzes. “For several years, the artist’s production has been oriented towards a compartmentalization of the painted canvas, at the same time as he uses, recovered and accumulated for a long time, canvas-backed road maps, foldable or unfolded, using several integrated techniques. This “above the cards” gives rise to more complex results than those of the first series of a work which today covers more than four decades».

A text that is also taken up on its site by the Eva Vautier gallery, daughter of the artist Ben, which displays, in Nice, the same Vincent Bioulès, Louis Cane, Daniel Dezeuze and Noël Dolla. The Pop Galerie, 15 quai du Pavois d’Or in Sète, presents, until August 17, “Robert Combas, Daniel Dezeuze, Hervé Di Rosa, Claude Viallat”, four artists released in complete freedom, brought together last June for the photo with Pascal Saumade, the director of the Pop gallery. “A question of garden, pebble, gathering, piece of wood, material, object, rope, tension, sacred, reuse, situation, encounter, workshop, mystery, diversion, poetry, free surface, Mediterranean.”

The Ceysson & Bénétière gallery paid tribute to this figure of the southern scene on its website: “Born in 1939 in Nîmes, André-Pierre Arnal gained recognition in the 1960s when he played a founding role in the Supports/Surfaces movement. The innovative artists in this group moved away from figurative art and its deceptive use of perspective, which they called trompe-l’esprit. They emphasized the non-representational function of painting and focused their research on the two constituent elements of the work: the support and the application of color. Our New York gallery is currently dedicating a duo show to him with the American artist Ted Gahl, until July 26, 2024. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.»

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