2023 年 9 月 8 日 - 2023 年 9 月 30 日
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Paris
2 bis Avenue Matignon
75008 Paris France

Perrotin is delighted to present its first exhibition of Georges Mathieu’s works on paper at 2bis Avenue Matignon. Georges Mathieu, the founder of Lyrical Abstraction, is internationally renowned for his dynamic, sometimes monumental works on canvas. In France, he is also known as a total artist, working in a wide variety of fields, from posters to medals and coins, from Gobelins tapestries to Sèvres porcelain and even avant-garde architecture. Amidst the vast array of media and techniques, his works on paper, although often exhibited alongside his paintings, have rarely been the subject of a separate exhibition. Yet they deserve special consideration, not only to showcase Mathieu's protean talent but because of their unique qualities that demonstrate the evolution of his style in parallel with his paintings.

View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
Georges Mathieu, Cassican (detail), c. 1970, Gouache, golden paint and collage on black paper, 50 x 65 cm | 19 11/16 x 25 9/16 inch. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

The pieces are visually distinct from his works on canvas, primarily because of the different techniques employed. They feature a range of mixed media, including monochrome and polychrome Indian ink drawings, washes, gouaches, watercolors, and felt collages. The finesse of the pen-and-ink-drawn signs highlights the calligraphic nature of Mathieu's abstract language.

They are also distinguished by their composition. Large areas of color in the background frequently enhance the dynamism of the work, producing a chromatic contrast with the lines in the foreground. Some ink drawings create an intricate, dense architectural network that would not be possible using oil paint.

Georges Mathieu, Hypo Laïs (detail), circa 1970, Ink and golden paint on paper, 56 x 75 cm | 22 1/16 x 29 1/2 inch. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

Others are limited to a few pen strokes, evoking Zen minimalism. Finally, in some works, the shapes are contoured, while collages of black or purple felt serve as graphic counterpoints.

Georges Mathieu, En toi te fie (detail), 1958, oil on canvas, 60 x 130 cm | 23 5/8 x 51 3/16 inch. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

Mathieu’s works on paper also differ from his applied art projects, despite utilizing similar techniques and materials. Like his paintings, their essence is purely abstract, using intuitive calligraphy, while the applied artworks often take an abstract-figurative approach.

Mathieu divided his works on canvas into precise periods, each with a clearly defined name, some limited to a single year. His works on paper, by contrast, are grouped into fewer and more extended periods. They are nonetheless stylistically related to his paintings of the same era: informal markings in the second half of the 1940s, the signs of his abstract language in the 1950s, a more angular and geometric approach in the second half of the 1960s and the 1970s, and the return of drips in the second half of the 1980s. Although Mathieu completed his last paintings on canvas in 1991, he continued to produce works on paper, often playing on the contrast between black and bright colors.

Mathieu's works on paper are a distinct artistic statement whose precision, accuracy, and subtlety of gesture – both lively and intuitive – can rival the power of his large-scale paintings. These works deserve to be explored in their own right, offering a fresh perspective on the artist's style and development, and reaffirming his place as a leader of Lyrical Abstraction in all media.

— Édouard Lombard, Director, Comité Georges Mathieu
View of Georges Mathieu's exhibition at Perrotin Matignon, Paris, 2023. Photo: Tanguy Beurdeley. ©MATHIEU/ADAGP, Paris, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin
Georges MATHIEU

Born in 1921 in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Died in 2012 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Across Europe and the United States, Georges Mathieu played a decisive role within abstraction during the movement’s burgeoning in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He departed from the geometrical abstractions that had dominated the previous era with a visual language that favored form over content and gesture over intent, and instead aimed for uninhibited creative expression. He termed this newfound aesthetic “lyrical abstraction,” after a description of his work by the French critic Jean José Marchand in 1947. Mathieu’s works are characterized by a calligraphic quality of line, which he achieved by using long brushes and applying paint directly from tubes onto the canvas. The immediacy and rapid execution of these distinct methods guaranteed the freedom with which he defined his work. According to Clement Greenberg, Mathieu was the most powerful among his contemporary European painters.



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