Levy Gorvy announced today a new exhibition of works by renowned French abstract expressionist painter, Pierre Soulages, available to the public via their inaugural online viewing room that will run until April 17th.
Currently the subject of a major solo retrospective at Paris’s Musée du Louvre, the museum is honoring the decades-long career of the seminal painter, who to-date is only the third living artist in the museum’s history, next to Picasso and Chagall to be featured in a solo exhibition. Despite the career bookending milestone, the centenarian artist continues to produce work.
Following his military service in the 1940s, Soulages returned to Paris where he began seriously painting, and became established among the Jeune École de Paris (Young School of Paris) of abstract expressionists. Although he has been compared to Ab-Ex contemporaries such as Mark Rothko and Franz Kline, with whom he shared an existential sensibility, his approach was radical in its rejection of traditional uses of color. Famed for his signature deep black palette set against a neutral ground, Soulages’s practice garnered the label outrenoir, meaning “beyond black.” Soulages achieved his quintessential aesthetic by using a palette knife to apply the thick black paint – treating it as a building material, rather than a pigment. “Like this” — the painter narrates in a film that coincides Levy Gorvy’s viewing room — “it produces striations, with varying depth, which make the light vibrate.” For Soulages, the deep black was a source of gravity, from which he could build depth.
Light Out of Darkness features three 2019 works from his ongoing Outrenoir series, initiated in the 1980s. Each of the paintings carries a thick black impasto covering the entire canvas, as light refracts on the paint’s gloss making the works appear sculptural. Even at his age, the works indicate Soulages range in continuing to adapt his painterly legacy.