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In the mid 1920s, Gleizes's circle was joined by a young French painter who was to play an important part in the history of the group - Robert Pouyaud.

Like Jellett and Hone, Pouyaud saw clearly the work of painting, and in particular the adventure Gleizes was embarked on, as a religious quest but unlike them he was not clearly defined as a Christian. He became a committed follower of René Guénon, who taught, or who was searching to recover, an original esoteric philosophy common to all the great religions. This was an idea that seemed to complement Gleizes's view of principles of religious art that would be common to all the great religions. Pouyaud succeeded in interesting Gleizes in Guénon and the tensions between the Guénonians and the non-Guénonian Christians in Gleizes's group makes an interesting subject in itself.(7)

(7)  It is discussed at some length in my own book on Gleizes.

Nonetheless, it was part of Guénon's teaching that Christianity was the legitimate exoteric expression of the esoteric philosophy in Western Europe and therefore Pouyaud was able to take up Christian symbolism with some enthusiasm and indeed was to secure a number of commissions from the church both as a painter and - in a much more conventional style - sculptor. He had more success in this respect than Gleizes.

Pouyaud was introduced to Gleizes's 'mode opératoire' by Jellett and I think there was always a certain fellow feeling between them, though Jellett had no particular interest in Guénon.


They shared a taste for rigour and precision which in Pouyaud's case led to accusations of  stiffness and dogmatism. Gleizes always defended him, in particular for his absolute commitment to the integrity of the flat surface. In facing the problem of reconciling the non-representational rhythmic principle with a religious figuration, Pouyaud adopted a strategy rather like Jellett's, either eliminating the face, or indicating it in the briefest possible manner, thus giving an impression of what I've called, perhaps unkindly. 'robotic' impersonality. 

In Pouyaud's case as a follower of Guénon it makes a certain sense since in that view the persons of the Christian story are taken as symbols of abstract ideas (taking the traditional Hindu division of three ways - devotion, duty and knowledge - Guénon's was a way of knowledge). 

This is a painting Pouyaud did in honour of Guénon after his death:

and this is a very lovely gouache study based on Romanesque art and the four evangelist themes Gleizes liked so much:

A pietà:

and a crucifixion, again with symbols of the evangelists (with apologies for the reflection on the glass):