André Valensi

Born in 1947, in Paris, France

Died in 1999, in Lomé, Togo


André Valensi (1947-1999) died in Lomé, Togo, destitute and alone. His Objets d'analyse, which are simple cords, ladders or nets, are made by braiding and knotting various ropes painted in yellow, orange and blue. He cut forms from corrugated cardboard and linked with a single cord, or simply piled them up. Some of these objects can be read as symbolic materials, charged with the artist's experience. The square canvases, assembled from pieces of cloth that are sewn together by stitches which deliminate a square motif at the center of the canvas. Then they are dipped in carbonyl. They show one way that painting after Malevitch can continue to address modernity.

Public collections

Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Etienne, France

Musée d’art moderne de Céret, France 

Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris, France

Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, France 

Frac Occitanie, Montpellier

Musée d’art contemporain, Marseille, France 

André Valensi, Transformer 

by Rachel Stella

 André Valensi (1947-1999) confounded peers, critics and collectors equally. It was common in the heyday of the Supports/Surfaces moment to evoke the man's angelic face and wicked temperament with the descriptive dichotomy « ange ou démon ». The work lives on to embody another more pertinent duality. His Mandala drawings, his tondo series from 1976 titled Cercles Centre Vide, and his interest in psychedelic drugs suggest an epithet that opens the door to perception. As an art maker, André Valensi is a Transformer, able creator, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is.  

Valensi's square paintings are assembled always from two pieces of canvas, to which he applies stain, not paint, with an upholsterer's brush. His process involves cutting a square piece from the middle of one of the canvases and stitching it by hand to the middle of the other; then similarly sewing the frame-like eviscerated canvas to the one that remained whole. He explains the procedure: « the aspect of the painting that traditionally made up “the background” now finds itself on the surface. All I have left to do is to measure the pervasiveness of color and its effects. Considering that my starting point is an idealistic problematic, the canvas’ double thickness ought to be the appropriate experimental material for such work. » Ambiguity and paradox are at the heart of this problematic. The seams hide the traces of cutting, enabling that which was revealed to be concealed anew, so that a painting is created from the canvas that was destroyed.

For Valensi, as any other seriously modern artist working in the latter half of the 20th century, making advanced art meant repudiating its decorative use, as well as any illustrative function it might serve for religious, philosophical, or moral purpose. Hence an unconditional commitment to abstraction, despite his belief that making art anchored only by its own point of reference would be an unacceptable concession. Valensi found a solution in using color to challenge the limits of the picture plane. He questioned its valence, called attention to its surface, repositioning it back to front, obverse and reverse. In this search for some kind of pictorial absolute, visual illusion is created and denied. It is a rarefied experience, though not necessarily a solitary quest. The works invite the viewer to stop using the eye for mere seeing in order to experience the separation of the mundane from the spiritual, to acquire visual knowledge of the ineffable.

In the paintings as well as the objects, color seeps through, covers or overlaps, and sometimes reveals the surface on which it is deployed. Valensi's Objets d’analyse, which are simple ropes, ladders or nets, are made by braiding and knotting, tying and interlacing-- never weaving-- various textile strands painted in bright colors that never appear in the paintings. The color may be localized in the folds of the waxed string, or trickle along knotted protuberances. Colored slices of corrugated cardboard become formalized when linked with a single rope, or assembled in a pile. These creations, call them sculptures if you wish, are charged with the artist’s experience. Valensi is not against interpreting them as symbolic objects, for he considers them « the development, the inventory, the indexing of everything the subject invests in the process such as psychological repression, neurosis, etc. This work in spite of, or rather with its Freudian character, functions as a true abreaction. » 

In the interview in which Valensi allows for this psychoanalytic interpretation of his work, Valensi defines abreaction as a term for reliving an experience in order to purge it of its emotional excesses. It is this type of catharsis that propels Valensi's work from the realm of experiment to that of creation.  

Solo shows at Ceysson Gallery
André Valensi, New York
May 08 - June 12, 2021

Group shows at Ceysson Gallery
Tribute to Vicky Rémy, Offsite
July 13 - July 14, 2019

Unfurled: Supports/Surfaces 1966-1976, Offsite
February 01 - April 21, 2019

Jacques Lepage. Dossier Supports/Surfaces, Paris
December 19, 2018 - January 26, 2019

Solo Exhibitions 


André Valensi, Oeuvres 1971-1992, Ceysson & Bénétière, New York


André Valensi, peintures, Galerie Eric Dupont, Toulouse, France 


Musée des Beaux-Arts, Mulhouse, France 


Galerie Mas de l’enfant, Barbentane, France 


Fondation Château de Jau, Cases-de-Pène, France 


Chez Malabar et Cunégonde, Nice,

France Galerie A16, Perpignan,

France Galerie Sanguine, Collioure, France 


Galerie Gérald Piltzer, Paris, France

Le Flux, Perpignan, France 


Galerie Daniel Templon, Milan, Italy


Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France

Galerie La Fenêtre, Nice, France 


Bernard Pagès & André Valensi, Centro La Commune, Brescia, Italy

Group Exhibitions

Back To Simple Radical Gestures - The Supports/Surfaces Movement: Within And Around, Tsinghua University Art Museum, Beijing, China
Unfurled: Supports/Surfaces 1966-1976, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Michigan, USA 2006 Les fils de Marcel, commissaire d'exposition Emmanuel Latreille, CRAC Occitanie, Sète, France 1991
Supports/Surfaces, Musée d'Art moderne, Saint-Étienne, France

Le Bel Âge- Supports/Surfaces, Chambord, France

L'Avant-Garde 1960-1976: trois villes, trois collections, Saint-Étienne, France

Dolla, Isnard, Jaccard, Pincemin, Saytour, Valensi, Viallat- Peintures sans châssis, Centre national d'Art contemporain, Paris, France

Nouvelle Peinture en France- Pratiques/Théories, Musée d'Art et d'Industrie, Saint-Étienne, France

Supports/Surfaces, Art et Prospective, Cité universitaire, théâtre de la Cité internationale, Paris, France

Travaux de Dezeuze, Pagès, Saytour, Valensi, Viallat, Foyer International d'Accueil de la Ville, Paris, France
Support-Surface, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville, ARC, Paris, France

Supports/Surfaces au delà de la peinture
Connaissance des arts - Jean-François Lasnier
November 23, 2017
Voir le fichier
Déconstruire disent-ils
Les Inrockuptibles - Ingrid Luquet-Gad
October 25, 2017
Voir le fichier