Étoile rouge (1979, Les Étoiles series) is an exceptional piece, bearing all the distinctive traits of Lemoyne’s work: the tricolour, the triangular motif embodied in the star and stripes, the gestural, the dripping— an emblematic work by the artist from Acton Vale in his prime.
The Pointe d’étoile series (1977–78) opened the way for Les Étoiles (1979), in which the position of the triangle— ubiquitous in Lemoyne’s work—was continually renewed, a natural extension of the shaped canvases (circa 1955) of early Plasticiens Louis Belzile and Fernand Toupin, and those by Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly in the mid-1960s. The star-and-stripe patterns inevitably call to mind Jasper Johns’s famous painting Flag (1955), in which Johns applied an ancient technique to fix the American flag under a layer of encaustic. Similarly, Lemoyne revisits, deconstructs, and reinterprets this icon of modern painting by means of oil, enamel, and acrylic, a clever blend of techniques that lends itself to many styles ranging from Abstract Expressionism to Tachism and Color Field. He thus reintegrates an entire swath of his work by foregrounding the roles of figure, gesture, and facture.
The Étoiles series marked the end of the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge cycle, which Lemoyne had pursued for a decade, and simultaneously opened the way to a new chapter in which he fully explored pictorial modernity, leaving popular iconography behind in favour of a purely formal language. His subsequent works raised painting to the level of the sports imagery deployed in the paintings of the mid-1970s. In other words, more than ever, materials gained prime importance.