Effigie incertaine XXVI illuminates Dubuffet’s radical reduction of form and colour, and here the metamorphic figure landscape is compressed, distorted and constricted. The raw, unbridled energy of the present composition is directly in keeping with ‘Art Brut’, which embodied an artistic language expressive of emotion and untrammelled by convention. The title of the work translates in English to ‘uncertain effigy’ and its semantics refers to the artist’s own recalcitrant nature and ground-breaking process of image-making. The term ‘effigy’ is defined as a rough model of a person that is made in order to be damaged or destroyed as a protest, thus the very word ‘effigy’ becomes a metaphor for the artist’s own destruction of aesthetic norms. In a transformative gesture of rebellion, Dubuffet rejected conventional notions of beauty and the sublime in favour of what he believed to be more humanistic and authentic: “I feel that beauty is merely an accidental and very specious convention. I feel that the things which are reputed to be ugly are so reputed without reason, and are no less beautiful than the things reputed to be beautiful” (Jean Dubuffet cited in: Exh. Cat., Paris, Galerie Boulakia, Jean Dubuffet, 2007, p. 7). Dubuffet’s dialectic between abstraction and figuration, the beautiful and the ugly, is echoed by his contemporaries in both Europe and America such as Alberto Giacometti, Adolph Gottlieb and Jackson Pollock. Indeed, Dubuffet’s anti-aesthetic, anti-cultural position manifested one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and Effigie incertaine XXVI offers a striking example of such revolutionary deviance and artistic invention.
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