Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Pierre Soulages

A good friend gave me a book on Pierre Soulages when I was about 22 years old and was captivated by the luminance of his paintings. He managed to use techniques of paint application that I associated with tricksy holiday resort painters that knock up a harbour scene with sky, sails and clouds in a few palette knife strokes. The difference in sensibility skill and observation though was obviously vastly different. There is a distinctively French elegance to his painting when regarded alongside American painters that have created light emerging from the space in the painting. He has always managed to combine invention of drawn form painting depth and rich surface.  I haven't seen his work for a number of years and was thrilled to see he is as acute and accomplished as ever. These recent works for me connected Soulages to Florian Plumhosl, whose minimal black and white installation was one of the highlights at Documenta, taking me into Europe not west. These are contemporary paintings from an artist that hasn't rested. The effect is similar to Jason Martin's but the technique is not the deconstructed subject. 

He was born in 1919 and was emerging in the 40's when "The fall of Paris" was happening and subsequently when abstract expressionism was named as a movement. He then showed in New York in 1951.

I feel a sense of recognition when seeing his work and feel I am chasing his tail.

Here is his website and blog:

You will also find videos and interviews with him in connection with his show at the Pompidou centre in Paris.

Peinture 222 x 314 cm, 24 février 2008
Diptyque (2 éléments de 222 x 157 cm, juxtaposés). Acrylique sur toile
Archives P. Soulages, [photo Georges Poncet], © Adagp, Paris 2009


  1. There is a great book on Soulages that came out recently. Unfortunately it hasn't yet been transalted into English..

  2. Thanks for this post on Soulages. I am WAY into black paintings and it it so encouraging to see his.

  3. Thanks for the appreciation Cora.

    "Black is for anarchy, for revolt, it's for mourning, but it's also for partying..." Pierre Soulages