The show Gustave Buchet. Charged with Painting looks back over the career of the Swiss artist, a signal figure of early-20th-century avant garde movements in Switzerland. Through some one hundred artworks – paintings, sculptures, and pieces from the decorative arts – the exhibition looks to show how Buchet passionately pursued his quest for novel formal solutions.
Starting in the 1910s, Buchet (Étoy, 1888 – Lausanne, 1963) sensed that the future of painting lay not in Geneva and in the wake of Ferdinand Hodler, but in Paris. In the French capital, he found an art scene that was in a state of creative ferment. He eagerly immersed himself in the innovations of Cubism and Futurism, and put them to work in depicting rhythm and movement. In Geneva, he was briefly caught up in Dada.
Buchet evolved in the 1920s towards a flat geometrical painting style that verged on abstraction. Living in Paris during the interwar years, he soon adopted the principles of Purism which Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant were championing. In painting that obeyed the ruler and compass, he developed a personal palette of both forthright and muted colors, and compositions that are remarkably constructed and arranged. Happy to use whatever he could find in the artist’s bag of tricks, he broadened his activities to include sculpture and the decorative arts, turning out designs for the fashion world and the theater.
While Post-Cubism was petering out across Europe, Buchet shifted to a moderate abstraction that posed the challenge of going figurative. Shortly before his return to Lausanne in 1939, he got back in touch with the human, spirituality, and an emotional response to the natural object. Transparency and supple forms prevailed over fragmentation and the interpenetration of pictorial planes. Buchet’s late work would be stamped by a final renewal of his art as he abandoned the diktat of line in favor of a quest for color.
Curators of the exhibition: Catherine Lepdor, chief curator, MCBA, and Paul-André Jaccard, Fondation Gustave Buchet, Lausanne, with the assistance of Camille de Alencastro, researcher, MCBA