From canvas to carpet.
In conversation with Bruno Moinard
Or how the memories of distant travels, as well as the countless walks in the native Caux region of the designer, interior architect and painter have become sumptuous “interior landscapes” to slip under our feet…
Born into a family of upholsterer-decorators in Dieppe, Bruno Moinard has always drawn and painted.
Even today, his eyes sparkle when he talks about his first "real" box of oil paints, a gift from his parents for his 10th birthday. “I painted lots of little pictures, which allowed me to try out all my tubes of colors. I treasured one of them, signed “Bruno, 11 and a half years old”. It looks a bit like, in a reduced format, Damien Hirst's cherry blossoms!” At 14, he took part in his first collective exhibition in Dieppe, adopted as one of their own by all the (good) “Sunday painters” of the region, all fascinated like him – and like the Impressionists before them – by the special light, the pebble beaches and the flint cliffs of the Alabaster Coast.
When he began his career as a designer, it was no longer painting that amazed the galleries in the midst of emerging contemporary art. The fashion was for conceptual art and installations. Buren had just erected his columns at the Palais Royal. It didn’t matter: Bruno Moinard continued to handle his brushes, in parallel with his work at the Ecart International agency, alongside Andrée Putman, for 16 years.
“I have always continued to paint and draw. But it has become my secret garden, my valve in a very stressful professional life. We traveled a lot, so I drew at night, in hotel rooms. I filled tons of sketchbooks, And on the plane back, instead of watching a movie, I took out my pencils, I tore, I made puzzles, collages... It had become an attraction for the flight attendants! Even if he exhibited regularly in Varengeville, his home port, the secret (garden) was well kept in Paris, where he set up his own interior design agency in 1995, 4BI (now the Moinard Bétaille agency), but where his activity as a painter was unknown to his clients as well as his collaborators. Between his stolen moments in Normandy and his many construction sites around the world, the border was definite.
It was when he created his furniture edition studio
in 2014 that his new team at Bruno Moinard Editions, while designing the first collections, insisted on "rummaging through his boxes". They unearthed nuggets: his travel diaries, but also a whole bunch of drawings, canvases and collages, in oil, ink, gouache, on thick paper... Their author would then have to be convinced to turn some of them into carpets.
"I'm glad I let myself go. First, because there is a real emotion in seeing a painting turn into a carpet, displaying itself horizontally, looking at it from all angles. It changes the perspective. And then, when Bruno Moinard Editions produces a rug based on one of my works, we have the chance to control all the stages and have the best craftsmen work on it... In my painting, I'm crazy about mixing materials, I always need depth, and I’m looking for differences in relief… All of this can be found in a rug. Depending on whether it is tufted or not, depending on the intricacy of the threads, depending on whether the weft remains more or less apparent. There is no loss of color and definition, the very opposite.”
An example? The large Coban carpet, a vast “marine” recalling Japanese prints, started out as… “a little collage cobbled together on the plane!”
Like the paintings of Bruno Moinard, the carpets that come from it always retain a part of mystery. Everyone projects their own visions onto them. The word that keeps coming back when the artist evokes his painting? "Fog". “We see things without really seeing them. People always think they can see my dear Norman cliffs there, of course, but it's never a simple representation. It is rather an atmosphere, a feeling. An attempt to capture the emotion of light. Dawn or sunset? A stormy day on the Dieppe coast? My garden in autumn? Maybe. Or maybe not. Even in my most studied compositions, I look for an element of chance, of spontaneity. Some elements remain vague, unfinished, undefined. There are things that float, a tremor…”
For 5 years, Bruno Moinard has set up a real workshop in his house in Varengeville. His large Chinese or Japanese brushes brought back from travels have finally found their place there. He spends whole days there. We meet him less often in the "valleuses" (these small roads naturally dug by erosion in the cliff, which lead to magnificent hidden beaches, in the Pays de Caux) or on the coastal path. As with many painters, the time has come when he feels the need to abstract himself from the landscape that has always inspired him. “The fog of my native Normandy, its minerality, I have them inside me now. I could paint them from anywhere. And in all my travels, I've stored up enough visions for the rest of my life, I believe..."
large canvases that constantly arise from this new workshop practice,
to have very special rugs woven or tufted. Horizontal works that encourage serenity, contemplation, letting one's thoughts drift, the eye always attracted by new "things that tremble and float". A few square meters of softness, placed on the ground, but capable of making you travel to infinity, in short, like flying carpets...