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Christian Bonnefoi at the Forum


Based on a foundational encounter with the sculpture of Matisse, Christian Bonnefoi has forged a painted œuvre with strong philosophical overtones. The Foundation invites the leading French artist to Japan, for a themed retrospective examining his lifelong exploration of the materiality of paint.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Christian Bonnefoi at the Forum
© Nacása & Partners Inc. / Courtesy of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès

Trained as an art historian, Christian Bonnefoi embarked on his career as a painter after the aesthetic shock of an encounter with Matisse’s Back reliefs, at a Paris exhibition.

Since first discovering the series, Bonnefoi has re-examined the Backs in painting, collage and drawing, creating his own autonomous works and developing an artistic language that has earned him a distinctive place on the French contemporary scene.  

For his first solo exhibition in Japan, Bonnefoi (b. 1948) treats the Forum show as a ‘selective retrospective’, drawing on themes and explorations that have punctuated his work since 1974. This material and philosophical re-examination of his artistic practice includes foundational highlights such as Babel, Eureka or Dos, displayed in Tokyo alongside more recent works such as Le Zodiaque au-dessus de Ginza. Christian Bonnefoi today confirms that he has spent ‘thirty years working to try and come face-to-face with Matisse’s Backs’.

Designed by young Japanese architect Hideyuki Nakayama, the exhibition uses obliquely-positioned white screens to remodel the Forum space, creating a path through Christian Bonnefoi’s œuvre, from intimist formats to monumental pieces – an immersive encounter with a demanding body of work, and a fascinating journey through the interplay of form, texture, colour and transparency.

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