Jacques Douchez

Jacques Douchez was born in 1921 in Mâcon, France. His mother was a craftswoman making hats and brooches, familiarized with the use of fibers and felt, and Douchez spent his childhood and youth in Burgundy, drawing from the early 1940s. From Cluny, a neighboring town of his hometown, he received aesthetic influences that always echoed in his artistic path. A talented artist, he devoted himself to painting and tapestry with ample production for over 60 years of activity. He moved to Brazil when he was 26 and, since his arrival, in 1947, he established himself in São Paulo, where he lived until he passed away in July 2012.

Here, he first studied with Italian painter Caetano de Gennaro (1890-1959) and later with Romanian painter Samson Flexor (1907-1971). With the last, in 1951, he took part in the foundation of Abstração Abstraction studio that fostered over two dozen painters during its nine years of activities. After a first phase highly influenced by proposals such as Dutch De Stijl and discussions of the so-called “Second School of Paris”, Flexor went on to explore informal abstractionism. However, Douchez kept his loyalty to geometric abstractionism and was not absorbed by informalism, which marked a turning point for many artists belonging to that group at the time. In the context of clashes with figurativism characterizing São Paulo’s concretism, with the emergence of groups such as Ruptura Rupture, Douchez started to consolidate his unique abstractionist aesthetic line, unattached to any concretism hierarchy, with no elementary chromatic reductions and without subjecting color to form. The first highlights in his work appeared at the II Biennial of São Paulo in 1953.

In “Le Grand Livre de la Tapisserie”, from 1965, with a preface by Jean Lurçat, Douchez and Genaro de Carvalho are cited as the two main representatives of Brazilian modern tapestry. The dimension of these two artists is reinforced by the inclusion of photographs of two of their works in the book.

Douchez took part in over ninety solo and collective shows, in Brazil and abroad (Peru, Chile, Mexico, Austria, US, Portugal, Argentina, Germany, Uruguay, Japan, Colombia, Poland, Switzerland). Among his most renowned exhibitions, he presented his works in nineteen international biennials and triennials, among which his highlighted participation in the VII International Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1975. His works have received more than ten awards, mentions and recognitions, such as an honorable mention at the II Biennial of Applied Arts in Uruguay in 1967, the first award at the I Tapestry Triennial of MAM São Paulo in 1976, and a highlight at the 1985 Lodz International Tapestry Triennial in Poland.

Present at the most relevant events in the poetics of fibers field, Douchez was instrumental to the development of tapestry language in Brazil. Decorative tapestry techniques started in Brazil in the 1940s with Tapetes Regina Ltda., owned by Regina Graz, where about thirty female weavers worked producing lamps, pillows, bed spreads, rugs and curtains. However, modern tapestry, characterized as artistic language, was born in 1953 with Genaro de Carvalho’s studio in Bahia. In 1957, Regina sold her company’s looms to Tapetes Parahyba in São José dos Campos that, as well as producing blankets, made tapestries with designs by artists such as Roberto Burle Marx. In that same year, with Norberto Nicola (1930-2007), Douchez founded the Ateliê Douchez-Nicola, where Regina’s best weaver, Gerturde, came to work. Between 1967 and 1968, based on Roberto Burle Marx’s model-cards, they executed loom tapestries for Palácio dos Arcos (Itamaraty – Foreign Relations Ministry) in Brasília.

The studio operated until 1980; however, Douchez went on with his investigation and production of new possibilities of works with fibers. His loom tapestries at first were flat; however, little by little, his pieces acquired a tridimensional character, maybe inspired by works by artists Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland) and Jagoda Buic (Yugoslavia) who, at the II Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne, in 1965, presented the first pieces to break free from the traditional plane of warping and who were highly influent on tapestry makers of that time.

In the 1990s, the artist resumed his painting, still following abstract lines. In December 1998, his piece “Madona com o Menino Jesus (A Dama)” Madonna with Baby Jesus (The Lady) was reproduced on UNICEF’s Christmas’s cards.

In 2003, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo presented a great retrospective of Douchez’s tapestries entitled “Plano e Relevo – Geometrias Abstratas e Formas Tecidas” Plane and Relief – Abstract Geometries and Woven Forms, curated by Antonio Carlos Abdalla. In 2011, Abdalla was responsible for the artist’s last individual show while he was alive, “Geometrismo Lírico” Lyric Geometric Forms at Lordello & Giobbi gallery, in São Paulo, focusing on his paintings.
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