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Michael Parmentier on Display at Il Ponte

By Erin Bode

The Contemporary art gallery Il Ponte is presenting an exhibition by controversial, minimalist  French painter Michel Parmentier. The exhibition, titled Michel Parmentier: Opere e documenti, runs until Dec. 30. 

Considered radical within the French painting scene, Parmentier built his career in the early 1960s. Studying at l’École des Métiers d’Art in France, he was important in forming the avant-garde art group Buren-Mosset-Parmentier-Toroni (BMPT,) along with fellow French artists. This group became well known for its minimalist art during the 1960s.

Parmentier won the Prix Lefranc in 1963 and is known for his signature horizontal strips, and his desire to not be called a painter. Similar to fellow artists in BMPT, Parmentier’s works can be characterized as minimalist. His works can also be identified through his use of the pliage technique, in which the canvas is folded and painted on. Then, it is unfolded, leaving empty spaces where the canvas was originally folded. Hungarian artist Simon Hantai originally created this technique. 

Parmentier’s works using Hantai’s technique were made unique through his painting of strips, which he changed the colors of every year. In 1966 his choice of color was blue, then grey in 1967 before finally continuing with red in 1968. But Parmentier began to feel tired of the same technique and he would attempt to retire in 1968. This retirement would last until 1983 and Parmentier would continue painting until shortly before his death in 2000.