Vincent Bioulès, Retrospective, Musée Fabre, Montpellier


This summer, the Musée Fabre is exhibiting 200 works that trace the career of painter Vincent Bioulès from the 1950s to the present day. Born in Montpellier in 1938, Bioulès’ career is nothing short of astonishing: after taking part in the ABC Productions and Supports/Surfaces movements, the latter renowned for its iconoclastic conception of painting, he became a major player in the return to figuration in the mid-1970s. An outstanding painter, he sought subversion within tradition, revisiting the great pictorial subjects: landscape, portraiture, the nude… with extraordinary freedom.

The exhibition offers an overview of the themes that punctuated the artist’s career. It offers a number of decisive historical landmarks for understanding the artist’s approach, while at the same time demonstrating the permanence of certain subjects through a display that combines historical milestones with the most recent productions. It also takes a close look at the artist’s working methods, combining observation on the motif, drawing from live models and studio work. The diversity of media on display (paintings on stretchers, sketchbooks, pochades, pastels and charcoals, etc.) testifies to the breadth of the artist’s means.

A painter in search of a total experience and a path to truth, his diverse and abundant body of work mirrors a jouissance in action:
“A painter is someone who remembers a certain pleasure in painting.
If I go back to the studio every morning, it’s because I’m going to rediscover that pleasure,” he confided to Catherine Millet in April 1986.


In the late 1960s, Bioulès’s work became increasingly politicized. His protest against the organization of the French fine arts system led him and other artists to organize collective events, far from the Parisian epicenter: from May 5 to 20, 1970, the city of Montpellier hosted a large-scale international event, with 100 young artists taking over the public space, organized by the ABC Productions group formed by Tjeerd Alkema, Jean Azémard, Vincent Bioulès and Alain Clément.

Vincent Bioulès is also a member of the Suports/Surfaces group, a radical critique of the image.

From 1975 onwards, Bioulès resolutely turned his back on abstraction, painting a series of monumental vedutes depicting
the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in Aix-en-Provence. The artist reinvents his painting based on a quintessential Mediterranean site, the public square, replacing the chromatic and theoretical space of the Supports/Surfaces years. The colorful voluptuousness of his compositions, like the poetic universe of his Interiors, fully assumes the legacy of Henri Matisse’s painting. “The exhibition will bring together some of the monumental nudes painted between 1988 and 1992, whose presentation at the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne had a considerable impact on the art world. With an eye for both sea and land, the artist captures the flavor of Mediterranean landscapes and their hinterlands better than any other. Visions of the sublime, sometimes tinged with romanticism, these monumental formats are the expression of the breath that drives Vincent Bioulès.


Chemins de traverse
June 15th — October 6th, 2019

Fabre Museum
39, boulevard Bonne Nouvelle
34000 Montpellier