Color to the Quick
19 October 2019 — 6 September 2020
“An old painter whose name I have forgotten recommended starting with one spot of your (the painter’s) favourite colour, saying that everything else would fit and blend harmoniously around this spot.” (Gaston Chaissac, letter to French priest and painter Bernard Coutant, aka “l’abbé Coutant”, n. d.)
With the rise of photography, followed by cinema in the late 19th century, painting enjoyed a newfound freedom. Dictates of mimesis were swept aside, giving way to a fresh focus on the intrinsic idiom of art. The power of colour took on a crucial role, alongside line and design, as its harmonious shades, nuances or clashing notes helped to create a visual score in tune with the human soul.
Echoing the monochromatic sculptural swirls of this year’s guest artist at the museum, Pierre-Alexandre Remy, the new spatial layout of the MASC artwork collections celebrates this outburst of colour. Beginning with the first avant-garde modernist movements of the early 20th century, the influence of Fauvism in particular, perceptible in the early period of Alberto Magnelli, it runs through to the present-day, with the quintessential abstractions of Alain Séchas or Stéphane Dafflon.
The work of Gaston Chaissac, an unrivalled colourist, lies at the core of the display, which aims to capture the dynamics of colour. It reminds us just how much an artist’s palette of hues, unbridled and joyful at times and dark, delicate or finely nuanced at others, gives tangible expression on canvas to the serene or disturbing beauty of nature and the world around us.