Opera Gallery Paris is pleased to present "Une Expérience au Présent", a solo presentation of works by Pierre Soulages. "Outrenoir" (Beyond black) paintings are gathered around an outstanding work from 1974 that seems to accurately foresee the latter series, thus revealing to what extent Soulages is in fact a painter of light. Standing in front of an Outrenoir painting is indeed accepting a certain pace, a dynamic, a mobility brought by the incidence of lighting or by a change of perspective, and accepting a path that leads to a solitary and unavoidable inner experience.
Peinture 92 x 73 cm 3 avril
1974 Oil on canvas
92 x 73 cm | 36.2 x 29.7 in
In January 1974, Soulages went back to painting on canvas after two years devoted to perfecting
etching and lithography techniques. Peinture 92 x 73 cm, 3
avril, 1974 stands as a characteristic work from the transition period that led him to the famous
Outrenoirs in 1979. This painting indeed is one of the first pieces the artist painted on canvas
following his long break, which was undoubtedly necessary for a painter who forbids himself
repetition. From 1974 to 1978, he revisited his work from the previous decade while introducing
novelty to it, mainly producing small and medium-sized formats. He notably retained the subtle game
of layered materials and colours from his previous etchings. This new technique created a feeling of
depth on the canvas thanks to an arrangement of thick, darker hues on flowing light tones, just like
he had previously done it with his walnut stain works or inks on paper.
Peinture 130 x 162 cm 28
juillet 1971 Oil on canvas
130 x 162 cm | 51.2 x 63.8 in
After his first solo exhibition at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in 1967, Pierre Soulages entered
a more radical phase of his creation. Colours disappeared from his 1968 to 1972 paintings and gave
way to the ultimate chromatic contrast of black and white, pivotal in the artist's oeuvre. Soulages
created a series of about thirty, often horizontal pieces, all equally based on a dialogue between
substance and form.
In Peinture 130 x 162 cm, 28 juillet 1971, the white background dominates a composition crossed over
laterally by the black colour. A pattern of curved jambs is repeated three times over from left to
right, and ends with a wide, vertical solid back against the upper right side of the canvas. The
black strokes feature irregular outlines and seem to want out of the picture. They provide rhythm
and allow the observer's gaze to follow the artist's gesture. The discipline contained in these
ordered signs, much like a writing and the simplicity of a shape stripped bare illustrate a return
to a certain asceticism.
"As for the blue that is sometimes found in my paintings, my desire for it was accidental: it
when I thought I saw a real blue in a painting – that had yet been painted only using black –
reflections of an intense blue, that I felt like introducing a blue coming from the pigments of
Pauli, Les Couleurs du noir : Entretien avec Pierre Soulages, 1990.
Peinture 222 x 85 cm 27 mai
1988 Oil on canvas
222 x 85 cm | 87.4 x 33.5 in
From 1947 on, Pierre Soulages started using walnut stain in his works on paper. In 1997 and 1998, he
went back to this medium which he had set it aside after his discovery of Outrenoir in 1979. A cheap
and common material used by cabinetmakers and carpenters to dye wood, walnut stain was appreciated
by Pierre Soulages for its warm value as well as for its fluidity that allows for more spontaneity
in the execution. Directly applied on the paper's white background, dark-toned walnut stain almost
covers the whole surface of the painting. Only four large brushstrokes applied off-frame reveal some
little untouched white areas.
With its abrupt and almost hieratic form, Brou de noix,
76,5 x 56,5 cm 1998 offers a silent light thanks to the delicate variations coming from the
tonalities of the ink.
Peinture 142 x 182 cm 28 mars
2018 Acrylic on canvas
142 x 182 cm | 55.9 x 71.6 in
"What words cannot grasp, what lies in the most obscure and secret part of painting, is what I find interesting."
Pierre Soulages, in conversation with Léone Granville, Ed. Plaisir de France, May 1972, p. 379
Since 2004, Pierre Soulages has exclusively used a mix of different acrylic resins that allow for
more important impasto, various consistencies and quicker drying times.
Peinture 324 x 181 cm, 12 février 2005 is a polyptych
composed of four stacked canvases covered with smooth parts as well as parts exclusively striated
with a brush. That work echoes the Outrenoirs from 1996 -1997 where unified surface prevails.
From 1967 on, working on polyptychs allowed the artist to consistently extend the dimensions of his
pieces while interrupting the continuity of the painterly surface. He thus forced the observer to
step back as to enlarge their visual field and he inserted additional lines of force in the
composition. The fact those four paintings have different formats accentuates a certain feeling of
rhythm triggered by the opposition between smooth or ridged textures and matt or glossy ones.
Peinture 324 x 181 cm 12
février 2005 Acrylic on canvas
324 x 181 cm | 127.5 x 71.6 in