Claude Viallat

Les échelles de Nîmes

Galerie Templon, who has been working with Claude Viallat since 1973, is presenting a series of previously unseen works by the artist in its Brussels space.

Exhibition view, Les échelles de Nîmes, TEMPLON Brussels, 2018
Exhibition view, Les échelles de Nîmes, TEMPLON Brussels, 2018

Les echelles de Nîmes highlights a lesser-known side of the founder of the Supports/Surfaces movement’s work, the pieces playing with volume and space, far from all conventional representations of how art is displayed. Yves Michaud recalls that Claude Viallat ‘often paints on surfaces that are actually flattened or enlarged envelopes of spaces.’ In Les echelles de Nîmes, moving between positive and negative, canvas straps and emptiness, Claude Viallat’s unmistakable signature small bone shape is no longer evenly painted. With these pieces, the artist once again explores the theme of the ladder, an element (painting or object, made of rope, canvas or gauze) that links ground to wall, often used in the Supports/Surfaces movement, particularly by Daniel Dezeuze.


The name of the series refers to the artist’s Echelles de Venise from 1976, a period when Claude Viallat’s artistic approach became more complex: the material is broken up by an assemblage of fabrics with a variety of origins, the support and its seams dictating the composition and structure of the canvas.

Created in Nîmes – where the artist was born in 1936 and continues to live and work – the new pieces show the extraordinary vitality, the unstoppable creative urge of an artist who works in his studio every day. The exhibition provides yet another demonstration of Claude Viallat’s ability to reinvent himself: he works from that same, always identical abstract form he has been repeating for fifty years, in a ceaseless process where the support plays a determining role, yet every painting is unique.

Sans titre n°044


The artist

Claude Viallat was born in 1936 in Nimes, France, where he continues to live and work. He is one of the founders of the Supports/Surfaces movement in the 1970s, which called for art to renew itself through a deconstruction of traditional materials. Viallat started to work on industrial tarp, endlessly repeating the same abstract pattern, resembling a small bone, which became his signature. Stencilled repeatedly onto a range of supports, the pattern asks us to reflect on the meaning of the creative act and the status of the work of art.

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