Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Culture, expresses her deep emotion at the announcement of the death of French painter Bernard Rancillac, an illustrious representative of the narrative figurative movement.

After growing up in Algeria in the 1930s, Bernard Rancillac studied drawing in Paris after the Second World War. While a wind of freedom and modernity was blowing over French society, the young artist set up his studio in Bourg-la-Reine in 1955 and became a teacher. The following year, a first gallery exhibited his works and offered him a visibility that allowed him to regularly exhibit young paintings and new realities. Soon noticed, he signed a contract with a collector, Mr. Audouin, who gave him precious financial freedom. As early as 1961, the painting prize of the Biennale de Paris distinguished his work, considered innovative.

His paintings already contain elements that will be the characteristic features of the artistic movement of «narrative figuration» in which Hervé Télémaque, Jacques Monory, Peter Foldès and Gérard Fromanger took part. The concept was forged on the occasion of the exhibition «Mythologies quotidiennes», organized by several artists, including Bernard Rancillac, in 1964 at the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris. This movement, which develops in reaction to abstract creations, prefigures «pop art» by drawing inspiration from everyday objects.

Bernard Rancillac’s political commitments led him to exhibit his works at the exhibition «Le Monde en question: ou vingt-six peintres de la contestation» in 1966 where he denounced the persistence of torture in some countries, but also at the Salon de Mai in Havana, in Cuba in 1967. He took full part in the May 1968 movement by drawing and producing posters at the Atelier populaire des Beaux-Arts.

For more than fifty years, Bernard Rancillac’s work has marked the French pictorial scene with its absolute freedom: tone, style, message, colors are associated to this eternal and omnipresent quest. By introducing references to other artistic fields (comics and comics from the universe of Walt Disney, cinema, cartoons or advertising images), the artist claims to belong to an era whose symbols are new and sometimes come from elsewhere – notably from the United States, against whose influence he fiercely fights.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin welcomes the contribution of this major painter who marked both the history of French art in the second half of the 20th century, through his paintings, and the history of society, through his commitment as an artist fully rooted in the world.