Jean Moiras is a French modernist painter from the School of Paris. His work is classic mid-20th Century modernism – the period after ‘High Modernism’ – when representational subject matter came to be mixed with abstraction in a single work of art. Moiras’ colleagues in style and subject matter include Bernard Cathelin, Foujita, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud, to name just a few. A typical painting by Moiras – be it a land- or townscape, relies for its ground plan on a grid, as in the earliest compositions of Mondrian before he became a non-representational painter.* From this grid, spring abstract ‘shadows’ of color and forescapes – with more representational subject matter emerging from the painting’s horizon lines.
Part of the artist’s earliest education was in French polytechnic studies. Thus, an air of archi- tectonics and engineering can undergird the imagery in a Moiras townscape – crisp marine-dock and industrial-plant imagery all the way to domestic interiors and lovely French townscapes in Moiras’ ‘softer,’ more poetic works.
The artist’s impasto style combines bravado painterly application with extreme precision. Like Foujita and Manet before him, Moiras makes idiosyncratic use of the value black to create tense outlining that is almost ‘wiry’ or stained-glass-like. Finally, the hallmark of Modernism – its “push-pull” optical dynamics are in full force in Moiras’ work – with color fields and forms proceeding from and receding into the picture plane – a fourth-dimensional aspect of time elapsing in the mind’s eye. This is a truly remarkable jump in dimensionality when one considers that a painting’s ground is a flat, two-dimensional plane! How uncanny that artists from Picasso to Moiras are able to manipulate formal qualities in a flat work of art to cause its components to move and shift before the eyes of the viewer! – a singular triumph in the theoretics of 20th-century Modernism.