Fernand Toupin, 1976
Fernand Toupin was born in 1930 in Montreal and studied at the École des beaux-arts. When he showed irregular format paintings in 1956 (Galerie l’Actuelle), he came the closest among the Plasticiens to accentuating the objectivity of the canvas. In fact, in 1955 four young artists in their twenties – Jauran (Rodolphe de Repentigny), Louis Belzile, Jean-Paul Jérôme and Fernand Toupin – who called themselves Plasticiens, launched their own exhibition, accompanied by their Manifeste des Plasticiens. They proclaimed an alternative to the Automatistes, one based not on a chance but on the more rigorous traditions of geometric abstraction, citing Mondrian as a forerunner.
Repentigny greeted Toupin’s works with enthusiasm, regarding their break with the regular conventions of the canvas as a significant step towards the further integration of painting into the ambience of the wall. He called the paintings “tableaux-objects”, perhaps borrowing the term from the French Neo-Plasticist Jean Gorin, who had used it to describe his desire to unify more closely the art object into its architectural ensemble. Toupin died in Montreal in 2009.
Toupin worked on geometric abstraction. From 1960 through the 1980s, he focused on experimenting with the structure of texture and space, often mixing powdered marble with pigments. The paintings from this period are distinct with their flat expanses of paint set in contrast to thick and textural applications. They are more lyrical and organic in style.
Toupin’s angular cuts from the rectangle are made and adjusted in relation to the internal composition. They are about balancing shape against shape in the pursuit of perfect harmony, and as such have little to do with the so-called deductive “shaped canvas” (in which the external shape determines the internal structure) of Minimalism and Post-Painterly Abstraction.
Source: Roald Nasgaard, Abstract painting in Canada, Douglas&McIntyre, Canada, 2007; University of Saskatchewan