After a post-Automatiste period characterized by a series of gestural works on paper in black and white ink, Jean Goguen turned to geometric abstraction from 1957 to 1959. As Roald Nasgaard writes in The Plasticiens and Beyond: Montreal 1955–1970, “We can observe an increasing tightening of structure and a regularizing of gesture culminating in the monumental architectural rigour of this last drawings from 1959.” What followed, in the 1960s, was an Op Art period that emerged from, and pushed the boundaries of, his late 1950s work. Standing out from these formal explorations is a series of diamond-shaped paintings, including this work, Untitled (1968), consisting primarily of chromatic variations within a structure of concentric circles whose vanishing points taper into parameterized, vivid, and bold colours. We immediately think of the chromatic circle design that Goguen rendered more complex and personalized as a way of “incorporating chromatic lyricism into his geometric structures,” writes Denise Leclerc, in the artist’s biography.
Jean Goguen, like Denis Juneau, was part of the second Plasticiens movement. He took part in several noteworthy exhibitions, including Art abstrait (1959), at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, where he studied from 1945 to 1950; Geometric Abstraction in Canada (Camino Gallery, New York, 1962); Seven Montreal Artists (Hayden Gallery [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], Boston, 1968); and Jean Goguen “abstract mutations”: Works on paper 1951–1959 (Maison de la culture Frontenac, Montréal, 1991).