With its expressive, colorful and vibrant palette, its impressive dimensions and its dynamic yet perfectly balanced composition, Composition Abstraite is undoubtedly one of Serge Poliakoff's most accomplished paintings from the 60s, a decade that consecrated the artist as one of the champions of the New School of Paris as well as post-war international abstraction.
Introduced to abstraction at the beginning of the 40s, it took Poliakoff nearly a decade to forge his unique plastic language based, as we well know, on the radiant interweaving of harmonious non-geometrical shapes, structured yet elusive.
Exhibited at the mythical Salon de Mai in spring 1967, as well as one of the artist's emblematic paintings at the great retrospective exhibition the Gianadda Foundation dedicated him in 1987, twenty years later, Composition Abstraite distinguishes itself for the infinite variations under its mat primary layer. In Poliakoff's art, technique and vision go hand in hand.
As he stopped using industrial paint, the painter started grinding his own pigments, experimenting with solvents and mediums to reach the outstanding textural effects that characterize Composition Abstraite. On an abstract background with no reference to local colors, the overlying and underlying color areas open up a dialogue and make up the painting's unique "meditative" quality, as art historian Wieland Schmied phrased in 1963 in his memorable and eloquent critic: "Poliakoff's paintings unfurl inward and not outward", taking distance with "nature because he is Nature itself, without however any connection to the figurative world. Besides the progressive simplification of his topic, the peacefulness of his shapes, a less elaborated style, more simplicity and a reduced palette of color that brought him to the secret world of monochrome, his spirituality grew along with his gravity and religiousness". His works are invitations to self-oblivion and meditation. (Wieland Schmied, preface of the catalogue of the Serge Poliakoff exhibition at the Kestner Gesellschaft, 1963)
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