Association Les Amis de James Coignard
Fonds James Coignard
107 rue André Karman, 93300 Aubervilliers - France Tel: 06 82 66 38 22

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James Coignard

And if this progression of pleasure, memory and technique creates a message, it is because it is sprung from the concentration of any experience ever made by a person. In this way, the painter is sometimes a witness of the world’s every story.


James Coignard, 2000

More than a half-century of research and observation by the artist, carried by a boundless curiosity concerning the world around him, shapes the immense work of James Coignard. The term “a life’s work” takes here its entire dimension, considering the enlacement of his work and life. The artist was equally a painter, ceramist, sculptor and etcher. He treated etching like a painter and imagined it like a sculptor. From the end of the sixties, he devoted a large part of his research to etching. One often meets James Coignard’s desire to play with and shape material and layers in his work; the lines are drawn like burn marks, cut and covered with vibrating and jubilant color layers. His works touches us by its fragile balance between the strength of the material, its dense bubbles rising to the surface, the profound marks of the lines and its magnitude confronted with the bare breath of a letter, a number, a sign; a brief reminder of reality.

Such is, for me, the work of James Coignard, […]. It depicts, it alerts, it calls out. Like Munch’s wanderer, like the woman with the child in Picasso’s Guernica, like Fautrier’s “hostages”. It is again and always man crying out to his fellow human beings. Painting is never greater than when it makes us travel beyond ourselves.


Georges Tabaraud, 2005


Carborundum etching

Carborundum etching had a major place in James Coignard’s research. He started using carborundum in 1968, together with his friend Henri Goetz. Carborundum is an abrasive powder developed by Acheson in 1893. Henri Goetz adapted this powder to the etching process, which rendered possible to etch in relief instead of in hollows. James Coignard developed the process’s different uses and effects. The effects of the relief, additions and deformations made possible by the carborundum seduce the artist and his creative imagination. Several matiériste painters like Clavé or Atlan, take an interest in this method but without really adopting it. Only Max Papart, long time friend of James Coignard, matches his enthusiasm concerning this new practice. The artist’s deep devotion towards this technique made him one of the greatest painter-etchers of our time.

My passion for etching equals my passion for drawing. […] In the beginning, I was less interested in the reliefs than in the actual surface that could be covered with patches of carborundum  […]. It wasn’t until later that the possibilities of reliefs, of blisters in the material, in the lacquer, of grains of sand and glue became clear to me and eclipsed everything else.

James Coignard, 2005