This remarkable composition fully expresses the skill with which Soulages structures voids and reliefs, conjuring up the flame in unexpected places, full of nuance, where the relatively hieratic signs of the 1940s and 1950s give way to freer forms. The now liberated motif stands out from the background, creating an unprecedented transparency. As the French director of the Musée national d’art moderne Jean Leymarie describes in an article published in Art International at the beginning of the 1960s, “the old vertical schemas on taut bases give way to often transversal , more complex and airy groups (…). Black beforehand was the central generator to which colour served as a counterbalance. It now becomes an active and dynamic actor, opening out in rays, emanation, phosphorescence. The hand, deliberately rebellious to contour and to all graphic line, places large continuous and rhythmical strokes which create their own time and space, and the same movement which feeds into colour, brusquely removes it, so that rips follow flows.”
In October 1961, a new wind breathed through the artist’s works, with his recent installation in the Sète studio which he designed himself. Perched on the south side of the Mont Saint-Clair, it overlooked the sea and was located amidst the Mediterranean vegetation specific to the region. During the summer, the sun did not enter, but during the winter it bathed all the rooms. This inspirational setting was doubtless behind the tension between the play of light, volume, space and time that can be clearly found in Peinture 65 x 92 cm, 26 octobre 1961. Form is linked here to colour and to matter and adds an unprecedented dimension to Soulages’s painting which will continue in this direction from now on. The amber tones, almost golden brown in the background, reinforce a little more the mystery that hovers over this major composition which was presented at the Galerie de France before joining a prestigious Zurich collection and being exhibited in several important international museums such as the Kunsthaus in Zürich.
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