The French abstractionist Marfaing was born in Toulouse in 1925. He studied law and worked as a lawyer for several years. He began to paint as an amateur at first, and then attended classes in sculpture and painting. In 1949 he moved to Paris and devoted himself entirely to painting.
Over many years he associated with the leading artists and poets of the School of Paris: Fernand Léger, Maurice Estève, Alfred Manessier and Gerard Schneider, amongst others. This circle of artists had a decisive influence on the development of his individual style. The figuratism of his early works gave way to lyrical abstraction. His first abstract compositions date from the beginning of the 1950s.
Marfaing was an active participant in exhibitions in Paris from the early 1950s and he became a regular exhibitor at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles from 1954 onwards. During this period he also exhibited in international shows.
In the second half of the 1950s Marfaing’s style developed new characteristics. Geometric and architectural shapes replaced the lyrical abstraction of his early compositions.
His first solo exhibition was held in October 1958 at the Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris, and from then on he took part in many exhibitions. In 1962 he represented France at the Venice Biennale and in 1966 he participated in the group exhibition, “Fifteen Artists of My Generation”. He used a variety of techniques in his work: etching, lithograph, oils, acrylics and collage, and he also worked as an illustrator.
Marfaing gradually moved over to working solely in black. According to him black was the most appropriate medium for expressing feelings. His compositions show endless diversity, but principally depict a perpetual conflict of opposing realities: light and dark, volume and vacuum, space and plane. Many critics and friends of the artist have called his style “ascetic”. He makes use of black and its subtle half-tones with incredible precision and conciseness.
From the 1970s onwards Marfaing began to use acrylic paints, and it is this medium that particularly brings out the contrasting rhythm of black and white splashes in his compositions of that period. His own words, “I am examining the world without addressing reality”, provide the best summary of his many etchings and lithographs, now very popular amongst today’s modern art collectors.
After Marfaing’s death in Paris in 1987 a series of one-man exhibitions was held in Paris and Toulouse.
Fonds National d’Art Contemorain, Abbaye de Beaulieu en Rouergue
Musee de Châteauroux (Peinture sur Papier)
Musée d’Art Moderne d’Haifa
Musée de Liège (Huile sur toile 1967)
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Musée de Roanne
Musée de Skoplje
Musée de Strasbourg
Musée des Augustins, Toulouse
F.R.A.C. Midi Pyrénées
Fond National d’Art Contemporation
R.R.A.C. Poitou Charentes
F.D.A.C. Val de Marne
Bibliothéque Royale de Belgique (Gravure)
Bibliothéque Wittockiana (Ed. Zoé Cristiani)
Mus0ée du Québec (gravures).