François Rouan

April 23 > May 31, 2005
Paris - Beaubourg

Selected works
Press release

François ROUAN
« Mappes »
April 23 – May 31, 2005
Opening reception : Saturday, april 23, 12 – 8 pm

French painter François Rouan presents at Galerie Daniel Templon a new body of works exploring the concept of “landscape painting”.

Titled “Mappes” – an old French word for “maps” which evokes ancient sea charts – Rouan’s recent series of large scale canvas was first inspired by the rocky Engiadina mountains in the Alps. The landscape they describe however, is only the starting point for a long mental journey through time and the geological depths. The scenery fades away to reveal a fragmented reality. The viewer’s gaze is no longer attracted by the sky or the panorama, but rather by an inner topography, abstract and multifaceted, where time substitutes itself to distance.

The paintings are made of translucent mylar sheets, which are painted, folded, cut, and layered onto canvas. Natural elements merge with reminiscence from the past. Walls, paths, skin imprints, memories of lost landscapes and details of past paintings appear and disappear. Rouan obliterates the present and the exact location of the site. The landscape is slowly dissected and reconstructed. François Rouan attempts to catch its fragmented meaning: the landscape’s slow transformation through agriculture and history, our mental perception of space as well as the artist’s own visual obsessions (Chinese painting, Matisse…).

As an echo to the paintings, François Rouan presents in the smaller space of the gallery, a new group of photographic works. In “Figure Paysage” (figure-landscape), translucent bodies lay on top of the “Mappes” paintings as they were being made. These unique prints were conceived during his residency at Le Fresnoy (National Center for Visual Arts), an innovative art center based near Tourcoing, which specializes in photo and video. For the first time, François Rouan used the old technique of “coal printing”. This technique creates ambiguous images : traces of skin seem to be floating above half finished paintings. Bodies turn into landscapes. Paintings become photographic imprints. Like the “Mappes” series, “Figure Paysage” is characteristic of François Rouan’s on-going interest in the passing of time, memory and the interweaving of meaning.

Born in 1943, François Rouan counts as one of France’s most reknown painters. A close friend of Balthus, and influenced by Lacan, François Rouan has been pursuing since the early sixties an investigation of language and meaning. He has developed an in-depth discourse over the concept of “tressage” (weaving). His first works consisted of strips of paper or canvas literally woven together. They relied on subtle plays of elements appearing and disappearing, upon repetitions and the sense of how the smallest element is incorporated into a larger dimension. For him, meaning can only be found in the interstices of reality fragments.

First trained in Montpellier, François Rouan entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris in 1961. In 1963, he participated in the Biennale des Jeunes de Paris. His first dealer in Paris was Lucien Durand who organized his first solo show in 1971. The same year he won the prestigious Rome prize and a residency at the Villa Medicis in Rome. He stayed there seven years. In 1974, he showed for the first time in New York with Pierre Matisse who organized exhibitions throughout the eighties. In 1975, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris organized his first major exhibition with his “Portes” paintings. The museum organized two other solo exhibitions in 1983 and 1994. In 1987, he joined Galerie Daniel Templon. Since then he had seven solo shows : Babas (1987), Stücke (1991), Portes (1993), Coquilles (1995), Mirótopos (1997), Os.suaire (2000) and Ash Babies (2003). He had several important museum retrospectives: Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1994), Musée d’Art Moderne de Villeneuve d’Ascq (1995), Sezon Museum of Art in Tokyo (1997) and Musée de l’Abbaye Sainte-Croix des Sables d’Olonnes (2000). In 2004, he had an exhibition at the Musée du Louvre “Le Tombeau de Primatice”, a show designed in dialogue with the exhibition around Renaissance architect Primaticio. In march 2005, François Rouan will present another dialogue with painter Simon Hantaï as part of a two person show at Galerie Jean Fournier in Paris. Finally, in 2006, the contemporary art museum of Bordeaux – Les Abattoirs – will organize a major survey exhibition of his paintings, drawings and photographic works.

The catalogue with texts by Pierre Guyotat and the artist will be available after april 23 at the gallery.