Taking place at the heart of the Salon du Dessin, Paris’s annual festival of works on paper, ‘Traits et Portraits’ will be an exceptional drawing event. The twenty-four works from a private London collection constitute a hymn to the art of drawing, and to the human figure. Spanning four centuries of creativity, strokes of pencil and strokes of genius, from Guercino to Picasso, this dazzling group delves deeply into the act of drawing, and the human soul.
The ink, charcoal and red chalk drawings dive into the heart of the creative process, the decisive moment when the line is born. No sterile non finito here; no, the suspension of the gesture marks only a pause, before continuing much further. That continuation can be a finished drawing in which the evolution of the work is no longer visible; a contemporary vision of drawing, created and appreciated as a fully-fledged genre in its own right, something achieved by Picasso and Matisse, among others. Equally contemporary is the viewer’s sense of looking over the artist’s shoulder at the moment of creation – a moment that could be last week, or four centuries ago, it makes no difference.
Besides the collector's eye and the drawings' pure quality, there is one common thread running through all the works, from moving groups (Guercino’s Roman Charity or Ferdinand Bol’s Angel Appearing to an Old Man) to portraits of artists (Matisse’s Baudelaire) or lovers (Picasso’s Dora on the Beach), to heads (Tiepolo’s Head of a Native American): it is expression, and even Expressionism. This is the sense that permeates everything, from the postures of Piranesi’s silhouettes, to the eroticised flesh of Picasso’s nudes.