Dubuffet, Hartung, Soulages exhibit at Opera Gallery
FROM FEBRUARY 22 TO MARCH 15, Opera Gallery welcomes three “giant” European masters of post-war contemporary art, who each in their own way explored different aspects of creations that still influence us today.
"PERSONALLY, I BELIEVE VERY MUCH IN VALUES OF SAVAGERY: I MEAN, INSTINCT, PASSION, MOOD, VIOLENCE, MADNESS".
BORN IN LE HAVRE, JEAN DUBUFFET (1901-1985) is considered the founding father of the Art Brut movement in the 1940s. Rejecting the traditional fundamentals of art and institutionalised culture, Dubuffet twice declared leaving the world of art before devoting himself to it full-time in 1942. His interest in artworks produced by people working outside of aesthetic norms, such as children, prisoners and psychiatric patients, became the core of his artistic philosophy. He remains one of the most controversial post-war French artists in history.
Dubuffet’s oeuvre includes paintings, collages, sculptures and monuments. Retrospectives of his works have been held at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the Tate Gallery in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. During the last ten years of his life, Dubuffet made a series of works on paper. In the artist’s own words, these works were “excursions of the mind into no man’s land.” Expanding his colour palette and revisiting collage techniques from earlier periods in his career, these more intimate drawings embody the artist’s signature structural approaches to colour and form. Dubuffet did not want to create “beauty,” he created “truth” and his art scandalized the French artistic scene at the time.
His works with tints and textures, comparable to mineral and organic matter, evoke a sense of energy and vitality. In his later years, Dubuffet revisited the more spontaneous imagery from his beginnings, but this time with strong colours. His multi-faceted work is an infinite source of inspiration for numerous artists and remains a large chapter of art history.
"EVERYTHING WE FEEL DEEPLY MUST BE EXPRESSED".
HANS HARTUNG (1904-1989) studied art in his birthplace of Leipzig, Germany, and in Dresden before moving to France where he would work for most of his life. Hartung is an important abstract painter and is considered a master of the Lyrical Abstraction art trend in Europe and Action Painting.
He was inspired by old masters like Rembrandt and Goya as well as German Expressionists, but as Hartung’s own style gradually approached abstract and more gestural works, he became influenced by Kandinsky’s abstracts work. The importance of colours akin to Expressionist works remains a key element of Hartung’s corpus. He started exhibiting more widely in Parisian venues from the late 1940s and was lauded by art critics.
Hans Hartung met and exhibited with artists such as Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró and many others in Paris. A prolific artist, he worked in various media beyond painting, such as etching, drawing, watercolour and lithograph. The artist further developed his scratching method in the 1960s by adding larger tools and new types of paints to his works. Hartung’s art demonstrates a spontaneous and rhythmical nature that heavily influenced American abstract artists of the 1960s. His works have been exhibited in museums and galleries in Europe and worldwide.
"IF PAINTING DOESN’T OFFER A WAY TO DREAM AND CREATE EMOTIONS, THEN IT’S NOT WORTH IT".
PIERRE SOULAGES was born in 1919 in Rodez, a region in Southern France where prehistoric and Romanesque artefacts abound. Soulages went to Paris in 1938, where he encountered the exhibitions of Picasso and Cézanne, and briefly studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. Soulages’s career as a painter began in 1946, when he and his wife, Colette, moved to Paris. Within a year he became known for his bold black-and-white abstractions. Self-taught and not a member of artistic movements, he explored the painter’s means of expression and developed his own non-descriptive and poetic style.
“When speaking of light, in connection with black, this sounds paradoxical. However, in reality, black is a colour of light. You cannot imagine there to be light without black being there also,” Soulages says.
Abstract painting, which until the war had been a peripheral mode of expression in France, was at this time emerging as the new French style. Soulages was one of the painters responsible for this development. He is most known for his unique “Outrenoir” (Beyond Black) works that explore the relationship between black and light. Soulages, who celebrates his 100th birthday this year, is both exhibited and collected in major international private and public collection and has an eponymous museum in his hometown of Rodez.