Jean Pierre Raynaud

La Maison

21 July 2007 - 24 Feb 2008
work in collection

The earliest works of Jean Pierre Raynaud (1939) date from the beginning of the sixties. Previous to this, he had undergone training to be a gardener but decided, after several years, not to pursue this. Having had no training at an art school, he becomes convinced of his choice only through conversations with friends and frequent visits to galleries. This is the time when the artists of Nouveau Réalisme are producing artworks made of all sorts of ordinary materials and objects. Like American Pop Art, these works refer to everday reality and to the banality of the Western consumer society. But although Jean Pierre Raynaud also makes use of objects and materials from the day-to-day environment, he wishes to express not the superficiality but the spirituality of our existence.

The artist calls his early works Psycho-Objets, thereby pointing to their heightened emotional import. Many of the objects have, due to their nature and color, the effect of signs and signals that warn of danger. This is further emphasized by the fact that Raynaud often allows his works to consist of series of identical objects or depictions. Raynaud’s fascination with a uniform and serial visual language finds its climax in the use of the square white tile from 1971 onward. This ceramic, mass-produced element is crucial to almost all of his subsequent work. The white tile represents industrial perfection, hygiene and banality at the same time. The regular patterns of white squares in a grid of black seams provides the artist with potential for austere and geometric design. With this Raynaud places himself in the tradition of Mondriaan and Malevich.

The most developed use of the white tiles is a house built by Raynaud himself in a suburb of Paris. In 1974 he opens la Maison de La Celle-Saint-Cloud, whose walls, floors and ceilings are completely tiled. The sterile spaces show ultimate perfection but can, in their flawlessness, also give rise to more morbid associations. With the white tiles Raynaud also produces a great number of wall objects (Carrelages) and pedestals (Stèles).

Raynaud closes the house La Celle-Saint-Cloud in 1988 and demolishes it in 1993. The debris is used for a huge installation in CAPC, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux. A major part of this impressive work is now on view in Tilburg.