The Centre Pompidou is hosting a major retrospective of the work of arguably France’s greatest living painter. Almost ninety, Pierre Soulages, the ‘painter of black and light’, is recognised as one of the major abstract artists of the post-War period. The chronologically arranged exhibition shows the artist’s evolution from his relatively sparse black brushstrokes on smallish canvases of the late 40s through to thick, tarry, giant (again black) marker-pen–like compositions of the 60s and 70s, coming to a crescendo with his vast, entirely black triptychs. These latter, most recent, works are part of Soulages’ ‘outre noir’ or ‘beyond black’ series, in which we see canvases completely coated in thick black paint, with various textural effects, on to which the light of the gallery plays as the viewer moves around the exhibition space. His aim was to ‘make paintings so that those who look at them… can find themselves, in front of them, alone with themselves’, and this exhibition – with its serene feel in amongst the monochrome works, and the active engagement required from the viewer – certainly calls for contemplation. KL
Until 8 Mar.