François Rouan, June 2020 © Sophie Morgaine


François Rouan was born in Montpellier in 1943. He lives and works in Oise, a department in northern France. He has used photographic techniques in his work since the end of the 1980s, and in recent years he has created approximately twenty films, which he sees as part of an ongoing ‘dialogue’ with his artworks.

— 1961 —
In October, Rouan arrives in Paris to study at the ‘École des Beaux Arts’.

— 1965 —
Experiments with a range of different procedures on a small scale, and on paper: incision, covering, intermeshing, braiding/plaiting.

— 1966 —
Experiments for the first time with ‘tressages’ (braidings/plaitings) on canvas.

— 1968 —
Creates a series of black and white canvas ‘tressages’, a project motivated by what Rouan describes as a minimalist temptation.

— 1971 —
In June, meets Lucien Durand. Durand exhibits three ‘tressages’ in his gallery and, in September, organises the first solo exhibition of Rouan’s work.
Rouan secures funding to reside and work at the Villa Medici, which houses the French Academy in Rome (and is directed by Balthus); he arrives in September.

— 1972 —
Starts work on a series entitled Portes.
Meets Brigitte Courme.
Begins to develop a profound friendship with Balthus; receives frequent visits from Jacques Lacan, who buys some of his drawings, and Pierre Matisse, who becomes his art dealer, and exhibits Rouan’s work in his New York gallery (from 1972-1988).

— 1973 —
Visits Siena, in Italy, and at the ‘Palazzo Communale’, begins work inspired by Ambrogia Lorenzetti’s frescoes (in particular the dancing nymphs depicted in the Allegory of Good Government).

— 1975 —
Rouan’s exhibition Douze Portes opens in Paris at the ‘Musée National d’Art Moderne’.
He starts work on three new series: Jardins, Saisons, Cassone.

— 1976 —
Rouan completes the last of the Portes series.
Work continues on three series: Jardins (until 1980), Saisons, (until 1982), and Cassone (until 1983)

— 1978 —
Leaves Italy and moves to Laversine, in Oise, northern France.
A major exhibition of Rouan’s work is held at the ‘Musée Cantini’ in Marseille. The catalogue includes a text (accompanied by sketches of Borromean rings) by Jacques Lacan

— 1979 —
Begins work on two new series, Frontone and Bosco.
A solo exhibition of Rouan’s work is held at the ‘Städtische Kunsthalle’ in Düsseldorf.

— 1982 —
The series Selon ses faces and the works Innocent Soir and Cassone VII are completed. They are tributes to his departed and beloved Brigitte.

— 1983 —
A retrospective exhibition of Rouan’s work is held at the ‘Musée National d’Art Moderne’ in Paris.

— 1984 —
Rouan begins work on a new series (drawings of nudes) entitled Figures/Trembles.

— 1985 —
Rouan begins work on Son Pied/la Route (the project remains ongoing until 1988).
A text by Jean-Pierre Vernant, La mort dans les yeux (published by Flammarion in 1985), a reflection upon the gaze of the Gorgon, is a source of inspiration for Rouan’s new series, les Babas.

— 1986 —
Starts work on a new series, Bustes. These are smaller-scale pieces, related to some of Dubuffet’s works.

— 1987 —
Rouan’s first explorations into the use of photography, after models.

— 1988 —
Rouan begins a period of reflection upon the use of prints, with a series entitled Stücke, using prints and photographic images of models.

— 1989 —
Rouan creates sketches of stained glass (using paper cut-outs) for the lower chapels of Nevers Cathedral. He works on the new series Cavalcadour, Constellations, Oiseaux-crâne.

— 1991 —
Constellations tabouées.

— 1992 —
Jardins taboués, and the first Coquilles.

— 1993 —
In September, Rouan’s visit to the Miró exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York inspires a new series entitled Mirotopos.

— 1994 —
Exhibition at the ‘Centre Pompidou’ (‘Cabinet d’art Graphique’) in Paris, entitled François Rouan, Travaux sur Papiers 1965-1992.
Creates the stained-glass windows at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church in Castelnau-le-Lez in Hérault.
A major exhibition of Rouan’s work is held at the Städtische Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf, and repeated the following year at the ‘Musée d’art moderne’ in Villeneuve d’Ascq.

— 1995 —
Works on a new project at Villeneuve d’Ascq, after Picasso’s Homme Nu, part of the collection owned by the town’s ‘Musée d’art moderne’.

— 1996 —
Begins a new series: Queequeg.

— 1997 —
A retrospective exhibition is held at the Sezon Museum of Art, in Tokyo.

— 1998 —
The exhibition Bonnefoi Pincemin Rouan is held at the ‘galerie Jacques Elbaz’, in Paris.

— 2000 —
Several solo exhibitions: at the ‘Sables d’Olonne’ (‘Musée de l’Abbaye Sainte-Croix’), in Beijing (‘Institut des Beaux-Arts’) and at the FIAC (‘Grand Palais, Galerie Daniel Templon’).

— 2002 —
Work continues on the series Queequeg and Onoma.

— 2003 —
The use of photographic prints, an increasingly important technique in Rouan’s work, is the subject of an exhibition (entitled Ash Babies) held in January at the ‘galerie Daniel Templon’.
On Phillipe Dagen’s invitation to the group exhibition De Mémoires, held at ‘Le Fresnoy – Studio national des Arts Contemporains’ (directed by Alain Fleischer), Rouan makes his first film, Clamouse, based upon his photographic work. As part of the exhibition, the film is projected close to Rouan’s own sketches (a series entitled Roses turques).

— 2004 —
Two new series explore the theme of the landscape: Les Mappes and les Engiadina.
In autumn, Rouan exhibits several pieces at the Primatrice, maître de Fontainebleau exhibition at the ‘Musée du Louvre’: he presents encaustic paintings, panels of photographs, and a film entitled Di sotto in su: these are juxtaposed with works by Primatrice.

— 2005 —
Completes several films: Le petit objet, Chiquenaude dans l’abîme, and Pierre à Laversine; the last of these is a contribution to a dialogue with Pierre Guyotat, begun in 2002.
During the academic year 2005-6, Rouan is the invited artist at ‘Le Fresnoy – Studio national des Arts Contemporains’.

— 2006 —
A retrospective exhibition is held at the ‘Musée des Abattoirs’ in Toulouse, entitled François Rouan, Contre Image.
Rouan creates two new films: Sans le Savoir and Wunderblock.
At ‘Les Gobelins’, Rouan works on the photographic aspects of the large Tentures du Roi, towards the eventual creation of a decorative ‘video ceiling’.

— 2007 —
Begins work on a new series of drawings and paintings, entitled Culebras.
Creates a new film, L’envers du décor, based on the work of the tapestry weavers at ‘Les Gobelins’; at the same time, Rouan finalises the sequences for display on the video ceiling; creates another film, entitled Le Torrent.
Autumn: presents fifteen new ‘tressages’ — including the first Culebras — at the ‘Espace Tajan’, in Paris: these are presented in the context of a studio visit.

— 2008 —
At the start of the year, creates a new film, Sable Mouvant, for a conference devoted to Pierre Reverdy, a poet much-admired by Rouan.
In the summer, at the Courbet exhibition held at the ‘Musée Fabre’ in Montpellier, Rouan presents a video installation, Le catéchisme de Gustave.
In October, a major monograph, in two volumes, is published by ‘Les Éditions Galilée’: Rouan le peintre, by Dominique Cordellier and Tombeau de Francesco Primaticcio, by François Rouan.

— 2009 —
Rouan’s second studio visit at the ‘Espace Tajan’ includes 11 recent works, as well as the film Les roses de Laversine.
A second monographic exhibition, Sempervirens, is held at the galerie ‘Jean Fournier’ in Paris, and includes a new film, 15 × 32.
Rouan’s work is displayed as part of the collective exhibition Ils ont regardé Matisse, held at the ‘Musée Matisse’ in Cateau-Cambrésis.
Completes two new series: Membrillo and Fleurs de coing; begins work on what will become the series entitled Odalisque Flandres.

— 2010 —
The long-lasting friendship between François Rouan and the poet Bernard Noël gives rise to a joint project: a text (with photographs by Rouan) based on Noël’s poem, Ce jardin d’encre / Este jardin de tinta. Early in the year, Rouan’s work in progress is presented at the ‘Maison des Arts et Loisirs’ in Laon: includes the video Ce jardin d’encre.
The exhibition François Rouan, du Dessin au Tableau is held at the ‘Galerie François Ditesheim’ (Fiac 2010), at the ‘Grand Palais’ in Paris.
Late in the year, work in progress on the Ce jardin d’encre project is presented in Abbeville, at the ‘Hôtel d’Emonville, Bibliothèque municipale’: a new film, entitled L’Amitié is created here.
Work continues on the Odalisque Flandres series.

— 2011 —
Ce jardin d’encre is presented, for the second time, at the ‘Maison des Arts et Loisirs’ in Laon, with photographic panels and a presentation of the book: the book is published in May, by Cadastre8zero). A complete version of the film L’Amitié is presented.
The exhibition François Rouan, La découpe comme modèle is held at the ‘Musée Matisse’, in Le Cateau-Cambrésis; approximately 60 of Rouan’s works (paper cut-outs and ‘tressages’ created between 1965-1970) and the series Odalisque Flandres, are exhibited for the first time; the films L’Amitié and Odalisque Flandres are presented; a solo exhibition, Découpe/Modèle 1965-2009 is held in Paris at the ‘galerie Jean Fournier’. Rouan’s work is exhibited in the exhibition Décor et Installation, at the ‘Galerie des Gobelins’ in Paris. Rouan presents a Savonnerie carpet and his large (ceiling) video installation.
Rouan publishes a collection of his written work (penned over the period 1971-2010) with éditions Galilée, entitled Notes de regard.
In the spring, Rouan designs items of jewellery using gold thread: these are exhibited in Bâle, as part of the ‘Foire internationale d’art’ (International Art Forum).
The death of a friend, Jean-Claude Deshons, inspires work on a text, to be entitled Trotteuses.

— 2012 —
Bernard Noël continues to work on Ce jardin d’encre which becomes Le chemin d’encre / طريقُ المدَاد. Under this latter title, a second volume is published with Cadastre8zero: this volume is the object of a new exhibition held at the ‘Maison des Arts et Loisirs’ in Laon. The film Bernard Noël à Laversine is completed and projected at this exhibition.
A new piece of jewellery completes the series begun in 2011. The series is presented in the film entitled Des bijoux discrets.
Work begins on a new series, Chambres, destined for the Château de Hautefort in Dordogne.
Writing for Trotteuses continues.

— 2013 —
The first instalment of the exhibition François Rouan à Hautefort is held, in Dordogne. This first phase presents ‘tressages’ from the Chambre series, and the piece entitled Chambre de Primaticcio; these are accompanied by two photographic predellas, a film entitled D’ici et de dessous, the pieces of jewellery and the film in which these are presented, and an installation comprising photographic, video et audio works, entitled Chambre des Ombres.
Work on the text of Trotteuses continues, at the same time as work on a series of eponymous tressages.

— 2014 —
An exhibition is held at the ‘Maison de la Culture’ in Amiens. Work on the project Le chemin d’encre (ongoing with Bernard Noël) accompanies the exhibition, which comprises the Trotteuses series, a film of the same name, and a new series combining photographic work with encaustic painting techniques entitled Diaphanes. For this occasion, the book Trotteuses is published.
Second part of François Rouan à Hautefort. Large stained-glass window production for the chapel of the castle.
Exhibition Empreintes, éponges, buvards (1980-2014) at Ditesheim & Maffei Fine Art gallery, in Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

— 2015 —
Exhibition Trésors de Sienne at ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ in Rouen.
Concurrently with the primitive painters, François Rouan presents his work (drawings, paintings, and video) mainly inspired by Lorenzetti’s fresco Allegorie ed effetti del Buono e Cattivo Governo in Siena.
Third part of the exhibition François Rouan à Hautefort.  The artist continues the serie Chambres with the large paintings Chambres Siena.
For this both exhibitions, in Rouen and Hautefort, Ô saisons, ô châteaux (Fondation de Hautefort/Somogy) is published.