Claude Viallat: Still Going Strong

On 10 February 2021, by Virginie Chuimer-Layen

A new show again attests to 85-year-old French artist Claude Viallat’s ability to do something new while always remaining true to himself.

Claude Viallat (born 1936), Sans titre n° 297 (Untitled No. 297), 2020, acrylic on fabric montage, 119 x 181 cm (46.86 x 71.26 in).
© Courtesy Templon, Paris - Brussels

The rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare gallery in Paris’s third arrondissement is featuring 25 pieces Viallat made between 2018 and 2020, including during the recent lockdowns, for the first time. These paintings, with their sometimes acidic and sometimes vibrant colors, superimposed on previously used canvas reveal significant variations.

For the first time, the artist from nîmes introduced bits of Provençal fabrics arranged in patterns to create the illusion of “sutures” stitching the work’s various parts together. Carefully folded and glued, with white paint overflowing the “frame”, the new material sometimes features Viallat’s favorite printed motifs, like bull’s heads. They endow the whole with an unprecedented dynamism and sense of reading. Army tarps, upholstery fabrics or parasol canvas are dotted with his eternal formal signature, sometimes combined with fabric color charts. Presented as such, assembled into large geometric “paintings” or partially turned over to show the back of the canvas, the works play on the contrast between solids and voids, different thicknesses, taut and loose materials and the relationships between each fabric’s shape and that of the final work.

The historic Supports/Surfaces movement artist is still questioning not just the idea of the artwork and its components, but also the notion of repair and the everlasting question of the image our eye really perceives and the one we think we do. The undeniably aesthetic show’s airy, spot-on scenography and shimmering paintings of often large dimensions, weaving a link with the space and the visitor, are balm for the soul in these bleak times.

Galerie Templon, Paris IIIe
Until March 20, 2021
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