Bernard Piffaretti (b. 1955, Saint Etienne, France) lives and works in Paris.
Since 1986, a single vertical line of paint has been the first mark on all of Piffaretti’s works.
Bisecting the canvas, this line creates two distinct areas within each painting, containing two seemingly identical compositions. Piffaretti paints an abstract composition on one side of the line, and then repeats it again on the other side. The second is made using hand and memory to replicate the first. This replication is at once a compositional division, as well as a process of multiplication that also serially defines the past three decades of his artistic practice.
While the viewer cannot distinguish original from copy,except in those instances where the artist leaves one side blank, there are minor differences, painterly details, consequences of the materials and the process of their application to the canvas that are impossible to replicate. Like the stills of a two-frame film, the pictures’ subtle discrepancies generate a sense of time, movement, activity and irreconcilability across the vertical line. These paintings’ critique of the originality of the artisticmark does not evacuate painting of its appeal. Instead, through their imperfection, these works insist on the capacity of pathos and excitement through the gesture of duplication. Referring as much to the work of the Supports/Surfaces group as to American abstraction, Piffaretti’s often playful, pop compositions, and minimalist deconstructive mood has made him a seminal figure in contemporary abstract painting.
Bernard Piffaretti’s first exhibition was with Galerie Jean Fournier in 1986, and since then his work has been shown widely in museums and in galleries internationally, in addition to solo exhibitions at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes (2015), the Fonds régional d’art
contemporain deFranche-Comté (2015), Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne (2009), and the Musée Matisse (2008) among others. His work will be the subject of an upcoming solo exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou.