Jean Degottex (1918 - 1988) began in 1955 to break away from lyrical abstraction, of which he was one of the leading figures. He gradually abandoned colour and became interested in the sign, in writing, writing that exists only through gesture based on deep meditation, in search of emptiness, a notion he seems to have discovered in Zen doctrine. Little by little, the writing disappears and is replaced by the line and the stroke, in search of more stripping, of the absolute gesture. It sums up the action of the painter who discharges the paint onto the canvas until it is exhausted. Canvas, brush, paint, gesture - everything is laid bare.

From then on, Degottex will not stop experimenting with new processes. The action of painting replaces those of tearing, cutting, cutting, braiding, bending… Degottex gives up the brush for more incisive tools such as the cutter or screwdriver. He also used the broom and the brick to rub the linen canvas upside down, using the back of a canvas long reduced to its only front. In the series of «lines-report», by a complex folding and gluing system, the distributions of black paint and skin glue vary, producing different values of black and various effects of materials. Matte, opacity, shine, black is never uniform. The canvases are streaked with horizontal lines drawn with a flat screwdriver that scratches the material. These lines discover the linen and reveal the fabric. Because Degottex works on previously folded canvases, the lines automatically refer from one pane to another of the canvas. Deeply engraved on a canvas panel, they splash on the surface of other panels, giving a variety of textures. Behind the apparent simplicity of the horizontal lines, a subtle interplay of material transfer and stamping marks animates the entire surface of the painting.

Jean Degottex, Signe Boule VIII 1. 1975. Ink and acrylic on paper. .50 x 64 cm
Jean Degottex, Signe Boule VIII 1. 1975. Encre et acrylique sur papier. .50 x 64 cm
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