Lot 1005
  • 1005

Georges Mathieu

450,000 - 650,000 HKD
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  • Georges Mathieu
  • Faux départ
  • oil on canvas
signed in French and dated 56; signed and titled in French and dated 56 on the reverse, framed


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

Catalogue Note

The Georges Mathieu Committee will be able to deliver a certificate of authenticity upon buyer’s request
Contact: www.georges-mathieu.fr

The Fury of Being
Georges Mathieu

What I am passionate about is to confront the violence of my paintings to the violence of the typhoons, hurricanes but also the strange shapes and colors of my works to your magnificent, exuberant, and extraordinary nature. May you love them! – Georges Mathieu1

Faux départ (Lot 1005) exhibits the fierce poetic lyrical expressivity of Georges Mathieu’s pioneering calligraphic touch. The black-on-red palette evokes a fiery angst and the resplendent combustion of potent intrinsic energy, while Mathieu’s ferociously gestural strokes effectuate a consummate abstract composition that exudes speed, tension, and an exalted violence that is paradoxically yet indisputably graceful. The two arcs on the lower portion of the canvas, in particular, executed with a masterful flourish, display supreme confidence, poise and surety of hand; while the dense rigorous matrix of heavy fluid strokes on top embody an intoxicating, almost manic, tension. The overall composition floats in perfect consummate harmony: while being non-representative and devoid of meaning, the exquisitely balanced configuration creates its own character through its own progressions of form.

Two key tenets of Mathieu’s art are speed and performativity. Impulse and spontaneity are supremely important: he invented new gestural processes such as tachisme, small projections of paint onto the canvas; and tubisme, the application of paint directly from the tube, and a lot of his work was created during highly publicized performances that fuse art, dance and performance. Under the gaze of large audiences, at times wearing costumes, Mathieu moved and painted rapidly as if under a manic trance; his work thus foreshadowed Allan Kaprow’s “happenings” and Yves Klein’s Anthropometry series. Bernard Marcadé wrote that “each time [Mathieu] paints, a genuine confrontation occurs between himself and his canvas, where rituals of martial art, dance and trance all come together”.2 In Mathieu’s own words: “The craftsmanship, the finish, the reliance on Greek ideals, all that is dead. Tensions, density, the unknown, and mystery reign […] For the first time in history, painting has become a performance, and you can watch its creation as you might a jam session.”3

On another occasion Mathieu said that his art was “an abstraction which is not enclosed by rules, dogmas or canons of beauty – an open abstraction that is free”.4 With such expeditiously executed, highly gestural paintings, Mathieu pioneered his lyrical abstract mode of painting termed “Abstraction Lyrique” in 1947. Featuring distinctively calligraphic strokes, Mathieu’s works are reminiscent of script and East Asian calligraphy; in around 1950 or 1951 Henri Michaux pointed out to Mathieu the similarities between the latter’s work and that of oriental drawing. In the Gutai group’s 1956 manifesto, Gutai leader Yoshihara Jirō openly acknowledged appreciation of Mathieu’s works along with that of Jackson Pollock: “We highly regard the works of Pollock and Mathieu. Their work reveals the scream of matter itself, cries of the paint and enamel.” 5

1 Georges Mathieu, on the occasion of the exhibition Georges Mathieu - Période Barbare 1989-1990 at Musée Léon Dierx

2 Bernard Marcadé, “Pretentious? Moi?” in Tate Etc., issue 18, January 2010

3 Cited by Kirstie Beaven, “Performane Art 101: Painting and Performance”, Tate blogs, 2012

4 Georges Mathieu, Au-delà du tachisme, Julliard, 1963

5 Translated by Reiko Tomii, originally published as “Gutai bijutsu sengen”, Geijutsu Shinchō 7, no. 12 (December 1956), pp. 202–04