Bernard Piffaretti I Bernard Piffaretti

Painter Bernard Piffaretti exhibits until the 4 June at Galerie Franck Elbaz in Paris and although I didn’t have the chance to get there yet, I saw an avant goût at the Brussels Art Fair. Bernard Piffaretti is a painter who has been painting paintings  since nearly 3 decades according a unique protocole: he paints an abstract image on half of the canvas which he duplicates or tries to duplicate on the other half.

Piffaretti always divides his canvas with a vertical line, paints an abstract image on the right half and then seek to copy it onto the left side. Sometimes he does it the other way around, starting from the left and copying it on the right. Sometimes he fails at it, and the other half is white or left unfinished. This vertical line, Piffaretti calls is the “neuralgic axis, the kingpin, the dialectic line”. This way of painting has the aim of “plung(ing) the viewer into a productive, and sometimes jubilant, malaise”.

This method which became the artist’s mark does not make the painting a copy but establish the copy as a painting. Or rather to displace the image from one side to the other, as the copy only relates to a final state, which is not present in Piffaretti images. You’ll see in Bernard Piffaretti an heir of the 60s-70s disruptors who called  painting dead and showed the limits of the canvas. In the work of Piffaretti the process – the duplication – is not the end, the movement becomes a matrix where creativity is frustrated. The total duplication is impossible. However, the painting itself is finished, although the process is left unfinished.

However no one can deny that Piffareti paintings remains decorative. As Joe Fye would say much better than me in this interesting interview of Bernard Piffaretti in the Summer 2006 issue of Bomb: “Piffaretti’s work unites those great opposites of twentieth-century French modernism, Duchamp and Matisse: it is decorative painting in the service of the mind”.

The website of Bernard Piffaretti also reflect this symmetry, go and have a look, it’s pretty cool!

All pictures are from the exhibition “Bande-Annonce” of the Galerie Frank Elbaz in Paris. Exhibition runs until 4 June 2011.

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