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John M Armleder

Sans titre, 1994
mixed media on canvas
210.0 x 191.0 cm
This picture, which is part of the “Coulures” series, is the product of a performance by the artist. Worked vertically, the raw canvas was coloured by the passage of a range of paints and other materials of varying consistency like varnish, ground glass, beads and spangles. The liquids, poured directly from the paint pots by Armleder, were applied at the top of this canvas, which was slightly inclined during the operation.

The artist doesn’t readily use a brush and the rounded marks seen juxtaposed in the upper part of the composition thus inscribe the start of the paint flow, the point where the liquid first touched the canvas before running down the length of the support. At the bottom the surplus paint was recovered and mixed with new components. This gave rise to an increasingly complex fusion of colours and materials that can be read from left to right.

As if to escape a bit from himself, like Marcel Duchamp, the dadaists or John Cage, Armleder offers things the opportunity to take shape through random processes. Confronted with the result of his operations, viewers are put to the test by the artist, who sounds their resistance to or acceptance of a festive type of painting as a work of art. At the same time, Armleder is also making a reference to Larry Poons, who liked to overload his canvases with paint, “I’m rather fond of Poons’s painting; he did paintings using pitch and evolved towards paintings with runs and with heavily impastoed surfaces…”
John M Armleder, Sans titre, 1994