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 

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.  

-Rachel Stella

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 shows (selection)


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 shows (selection)


Retrouver l’économie des gestes simples - le mouvement Supports-Surfaces et ses proches

Tsinghua University Art Museum, Beijing, China

Unfurled : Supports/Surfaces, 1966-1976, MOCAD, Detroit, United-States 


Supports/Surfaces. Les origines, 1966-1970, Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France 


Supports / Surfaces, Galerie Eva Vautier, Paris, France 


Les fils de Marcel, curated by : Emmanuel Latreille, CRAC Occitanie, Sete 


Autour de Supports/Surfaces : dessins et objets de la collection du Musée d’art moderne de Saint Etienne Métropole, Musée de Valence, France 


Les années Supports/Surfaces dans les collections du Centre Georges Pompidou, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France 


La Donation Vicky Rémy. Une idée de l’art pendant les années 70. La Rigueur et La Rupture, Musée d’Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne, France


Supports/Surfaces 1966-1974 : André-Pierre Arnal, Vincent Bioulès, Louis Cane, 

Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Noël Dolla, Toni Grand, Bernard Pagès, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, 

Patrick Saytour, André Valensi, Claude Viallat, Musée d’Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne, France 


La fin des années 60 : d’une contestation à l’autre, Abbaye Saint-André, Meymac, France 


Exposition itinérante : L’art et le temps. Regards sur la quatrième dimension Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne, France

Barbican Center, London, United Kingdom

Museum des XX Jahrhunderts, Vienna, Austria

Musée Rath, Geneva, Switzerland

Städtische Kunsthalle, Mannheim, Germany

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Danemark

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium


Le Mirail, Université de Toulouse, France

Galerie Jacques Girard, Toulouse, France 


Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France 


Musée Cantini, Marseille, France

Collectif Génération, Centre Pompidou - Musée national d’Art moderne, Paris, France

Le dessin au travail, ARC, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France

L’avant-garde 1960-1976. Trois villes, trois collections : Grenoble, Marseille, Saint-Etienne, France

A propos de Nice, Centre Pompidou - Musée national d’Art moderne, Paris, France 


Situation européenne en Peinture, Centre latino-américain, Milan & Rome, Italy

Galerie Kriwin, Brussels, Belgium 


Galerie Fabian Carlsson, Göteborg, Sweden

Galerie des Ponchettes, Nice, France

Peintures sans châssis : Noël Dolla, Vivien Isnard, Christian Jaccard, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, 

Patrick Saytour, André Valensi, Claude Viallat, CNAC, Paris, France 


L’Art au présent, Musée Galliera, Paris, France

Peinture française d’aujourd’hui, Galerie d’Art T, Mulhouse, France

Exposition itinérante : Nouvelles Peinture en France. Pratiques / Théories, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, Saint-Etienne, France

CAPC, Bordeaux, France

Musée d’art et d’histoire, Chambéry, France

Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland

Neue Galerie, Aix-la-Chapelle, R.F.A. Fondation Callouste Gulbenkian, Lisbonne et Porto, Portugal 


Signal, Maison des jeunes et de la culture, Grasse, France 


Interventions au Québec, Rivière des Outaquais, Lac des Castors, Montréal, Canada

Supports/Surfaces, Théâtre municipal de Nice, France

Art et Prospective, Théâtre de la Cité universitaire, Paris, France

Eté 70, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France 


Dezeuze, Pagès, Saytour, Valensi, Viallat, Foyer International d’Accueil de la Ville de Paris, France

Support(s)/Surface(s), ARC, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France

Vision 70, Perpignan, France

100 artistes dans la ville, Musée du Travail, Montpellier, France 


Rencontres poétiques, exposition de plein air, Coaraze, France

CONNAISSANCE DES ARTS - Jean-François Lasnier
November 23, 2017
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October 25, 2017
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