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Christian Bonnefoi at La Verrière

Antithèse

French artist Christian Bonnefoi achieves a subtle balance of high art and mystery, with abstract paintings encapsulating swathes of artistic heritage.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Christian Bonnefoi at La Verrière
© Fabien de Cugnac

Born in 1948, Christian Bonnefoi sees himself as a painter in the classical tradition, yet his work is governed by a radical approach linking its constituent parts (the surface, composition, frame, support, colour and handling, drawing) to the potentiality of the viewer's gaze, and of their own understanding.

His paintings often consist of multiple layers, often exceptionally fine. "I work by displacement," explains the artist, "not by hierarchy."

Christian Bonnefoi's work is a progressive appropriation of the surface, considered by the artist as the "skin" of the piece. He shuns calligraphic strokes, preferring to "hollow" out the canvas. "The painter doesn’t allow himself to see what he is doing, as he does it," says art historian Yve-Alain Bois. "There will be this or that mark – that's all he knows; and he will have the privilege of being his own first viewer."

In Brussels, at La Verrière, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is presenting an exhibition of Christian Bonnefoi's specially-created coloured collages and paintings on canvas. In formal terms, his work remains open-ended: he is inspired, he says, by "oppositions, contradictions, splits, subdivisions, passages, articulations." Hence the exhibition's title: Antithèse.

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