Monday, 4 February 2013

Cutting into colour

The current exhibition, 'cutting into colour' at the bowery gallery features original lithographs by Matisse and contemporary responses by Briony Mullan, Brownwen Baynes, Garth Simmons and Phillippa Dyrlaga

henri matisse - 1869-1954
matisse’s later years were influenced by his physical condition. from the mid 1940’s matisse found paint difficult to manipulate because of his disability and worked from his bed or wheelchair as a result of surgery for stomach cancer. matisse developed an art practice that could be carried out sitting down: drawings, paper cutouts, and designs for larger projects. the pieces began life as sheets of precoloured paper that matisse hand cut. he then directed his assistants where to paste them on large sheets of paper.

matisse had been both a sculptor and a painter. through his paper cut-outs he applied the technique of the sculptor to the substance of painting and carved blocks of pure colour out of paper. for an issue of the french portfolio, verve, published by teriade, devoted to his later works, matisse supervised the production of lithographs after these paper cutouts. these were printed by mourlot frères, one of the main lithographic studios of paris. about half-way through the project, matisse died. the works were printed as lithographs after the paper cutouts in a special issue of verve entitled les derniers oeuvres de matisse and published in 1956. the ones that were produced before his death bear his signature in the stone; those after, lack it. the lithographic plates were erased after the edition was printed.

matisse’s works of 1952 to 1954 suggest the golden age, the extraordinary garden of earthly paradise brimming with flowers and fruits among which as myth prescribes, naked creatures wander.

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