Jean Pierre Raynaud

Courbevoie France 1939, lives and works in Paris

The work of Jean Pierre Raynaud is strikingly consistent and varied at the same time. Characteristic of this are the recurrent motifs such as traffic signs, flower pots and gauges. Clear-cut color schemes with a great deal of red, white and black are also typical of Raynaud’s work, which consists of freestanding and wall objects, installations and architecture. He employs a range of materials, uses photography and has designed stained-glass windows.

The earliest works date from the early sixties, a period in which in France the artists of Nouveau Réalisme were making works of art from all sorts of ordinary materials and objects. Like American Pop Art, these artworks refer to the day-to-day reality and to the banality of Western consumer society. But despite the fact that Jean Pierre Raynaud also makes use of objects and materials from the everyday environment, he does not wish to express the superficiality but, on the contrary, the spirituality of our existence.

The artist refers to his early works as Psycho-Objets and thereby indicates the highly emotional content. Many of the objects have, due to their nature and color, the effect of signs and signals that warn of danger. A good example of this is the work Tableau sur Mur (1968) which is in De Pont’s collection. This warning effect is heightened even more by the fact that Raynaud often allows his work to consist of series of identical objects or images.

Raynaud’s fascination with a uniform and serial visual language culminates in the use of the square white tile from 1971 onward. This ceramic, mass-produced element is crucial to almost all of his further work. The white tile represents industrial perfection, hygiene and banality as well. The regular grid pattern of white squares in black grout provides the artist with the potential for rigid and geometric design. With this Raynaud places himself in the tradition of Mondrian and Malevich.

The most developed use of the white tiles is a house which Raynaud himself built in a suburb of Paris. In 1974 he opened La Maison de La Celle-Saint-Cloud, whose walls, floors and ceilings were thoroughly tiled. The sterile spaces displayed ultimate perfection, but this spotlessness could also give rise to more morbid associations. With the white tiles Raynaud also produced a great number of wall objects (Carrelages) and pedestals (Stèles). The house La Celle-Saint-Cloud led to the construction of a number of tiled spaces and compartments (Espaces zéro) which seem to celebrate the absolute void. The completely tiled Container in the collection of De Pont is a work from 1989.

For his recent paintings Jean Pierre Raynaud is using all sorts of national flags. He produces the flags in various formats for wall installations. The bright colors and the strong symbolism relate to several series of brightly colored works from the early seventies, while as signals they bear an affinity to the early Psycho-Objets. The austere rhythmics of the color patterns bring to mind the earlier serial works and the Carrelages. For Raynaud personally, the French flag serves as a symbol from his childhood years, when he was placed under the protection of the French state after his father had died as a result of a bombardment in 1943.