Pierre Moignard, Galerie Anne Barrault, Paris
How do you take the history of painting and make it feel new? The French artist Pierre Moignard proposes his own strategy at his latest show at Galerie Anne Barrault in Paris. Entitled nouveaux tableaux, Moignard mashes up not just references to art’s past, but his own history as well.
The artist references a number of greats in his press release. Everyone from Édouard Manet to Francisco de Goya to Pablo Picasso are included as influences for Moignard. Certain poses recall these masters, like Suite P #1 and Suite P #4 which includes Ab-Ex abstracts overlaid with studies of a late Picasso drawings (and hence the title of the series). The Made series pulls a similar move by combining the work of Manet and Willem de Kooning. His Autoportraits also call to mind the portraits of Alberto Giacometti and Martin Kippenberger.
Moignard isn’t just a fan of painting’s history and its superstars, he has evolved over his career and tried his hand at many mediums, including video. I bring this up because it plays a large role in these recent paintings, too. Taking from his videos Who Chooseth Me, Notes for the Merchant of Vegas, and Holyland Experience, artist incorporates frames and scenes into his paintings. Although, as noted by the gallery, these exact images are not in the videos, but Moignard imagines frames that could theoretically be included in these films. Again, Moignard produces a new iteration on history, but rather than art history, it’s the history of his own work.
Moignard’s work is a strange and unsettling combination of appropriations and allusions, but this strangeness is what makes this artist’s work feel new and relevant. By combining the serious imagery of modern masters and shots of his films (which include the Las Vegas strip, the homeless in Los Angeles, or a Disney park impersonator), Moignard is both reverent in his knowledge of the past yet also irreverent by equalizing and presenting it alongside lowbrow culture and society. The paintings are also extremely confident in their execution, which is all the more impressive since the artist manages such a fine balancing act between history and the present, respect and rebellion.