Vers Le Tableau: Pierre Dunoyer

 Noir. Acrylic on canvas, 1983. Courtesy of Jean-Paul Najar Foundation (JPNF)

Noir. Acrylic on canvas, 1983. Courtesy of Jean-Paul Najar Foundation (JPNF)

You can always count on the Jean-Paul Najar Foundation to help you make new discoveries. Recently, I visited after a long hiatus and was intrigued by the work of French artist Pierre Dunoyer. Highly conceptual and with a deep-rooted interest in abstraction, Dunoyer’s works appear like gestural brushstrokes daubed in an almost subconscious way but there is nothing accidental about them.

Concerned with space and form, the mark making here is highly controlled and Dunoyer prefers his subject to be the experiential relationship between the work and the viewer. His philosophical approach meant that he sees the painting as an object of thought. According to the exhibition’s press release he attempts to “produce works capable of turning seeing into thinking”. Influenced early on in his career by Support-Surfaces (a French avant-garde modernist movement of the 20th century), he uses the word tableau to describe his surfaces. The painted object on the tableau “exists to tantalize the viewer and to question the purpose of its own existence,” explains the release.

 Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, 1978. Courtesy of Jean-Paul Najar Foundation (JPNF)

Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, 1978. Courtesy of Jean-Paul Najar Foundation (JPNF)

The works are indeed enticing. The thickness of the surface texture and the movement of the colour forms are precisely placed to seem arbitrary and the result is tactile and sensuous. Upstairs in the exhibition, there are works from 2011 (Dunoyer is still practicing) and we see even more precision. Swoops of colour seem to intertwine but they all have thin outlines that separate the colour blocks – here his influence from Piet Mondrian’s colour and lines representing the spiritual order underlying the visible world is clear in his aesthetic language.

This is the first time that the foundation has shown work from this century and gives the opportunity to see across the breadth of Dunoyer’s practice. What is fascinating is his consistency and dedication to a single line of thought. Sometimes it is artists like these that go under the radar and that is why we, as art enthusiasts, owe it to institutions like this one to enlighten us.