Untitled (1975), this sumptuous oil painting from Lemoyne’s Bleu, Blanc, Rouge cycle, is impressive for the boldness and strength of its composition. The painting holds the viewer’s attention for the entire breadth of its area of 1 × 1.5 metres—the same dimensions as other seminal works produced the same year, among them Le masque, Lafleur Stardust, and Cournoyer. This centrepiece offers a rare opportunity for the seasoned collector.
The close-up occupies the entire pictorial field. The player, in the heat of the action, in attack position, leans forward, elbow flexed. The puck is in his sights. Photographers assigned to the game track the slightest motion, eying the decisive moment that will make the front page. Lemoyne first painted from sports photography to compose the initial tricolour paintings, then, based on his own paintings, proceeded directly by magnification or enlargement, focusing on a detail, an area that he tightened and cropped to the utmost. Untitled is part of the body of close-up work that Lemoyne referred to as “blow-up,” inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie bearing that title.
The transition from photography to painting thus gives rise to a process of reduction that leads inevitably to abstraction. From the first brushstroke, the signs and conventions of perspectival space give way to pictorial and expressive concerns that gradually supplant the sports referent. Lemoyne turns the surface of the painting into his playground, reinventing chromatic juxtapositions, drips, and stripes from a formalist point of view.
In 1975, besides the masks, two main series of paintings followed one another: the numbers series, and then the joints, of which Untitled is a part. Indeed, the composition of this painting just barely excludes the number that would normally appear on the sleeve of the hockey jersey, Lemoyne preferring to crop at the limit of the player’s elbow. This is not a trivial choice. It heralds the pure abstraction to come: Lemoyne is declaring his formal intentions—rushing the puck, so to speak. The Bleu, Blanc, Rouge cycle concludes with the very essence of hockey, preserving only the symbol and the tricolour, as in the series Pointe d’étoile (1977–78) and Les Étoiles (1979).