Hantaї, Hartung, Soulages, Tàpies at the Timothy Taylor Gallery ǀ Exhibition review
The latest show at the Timothy Taylor Gallery features works by four artists who played a pivotal role in the evolution of the European post-war abstract movement: Simon Hantaї, Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages and Antoni Tàpies. Focusing in particular on the Parisian cultural scene from the 1960s onwards – a time when artists such as Barnett Newman and John McLaughlin were making waves in the US – the exhibition is a showcase of the new painting techniques that emerged during this exciting period.
The four artists work in very different ways. Hantaї’s pieces Etude and Blanc make use of his trademark technique pliage in which the canvas is folded before colouring, leaving blank sections with a marble-like effect formed by the delicate lines of the creases. Despite being created during the artist’s years in Paris, the bright patterns of these works might well have been influenced by the bold, repetitive designs found in traditional textiles from Hantaї’s home country of Hungary, where he trained at the Budapest School of Fine Art.
Contrasting the playful feel of Hantaї’s works, Hartung’s pieces are far more confrontational, utilising a pallet of vivid colours with dramatic shapes that demand the viewer’s attention.
Both Soulages’ and Tàpies’ works play with texture. Soulages’ paintings 28.02.07 and 03.10.04 involve thick black acrylic, applied heavily to the canvas and then scraped away to create a glossy, sculptural surface that calls out to be touched. Tàpies pieces on the other hand have an unfinished appearance, incorporating gritty impasto work that gestures towards scarred and hostile landscapes.
A thought-provoking show, Hantaї, Hartung, Soulages, Tàpies brings together a varied selection of pieces that collectively demonstrate the huge new scope for painting that was discovered during the period. The exhibition is both a visual delight and an education; it is highly recommended, particularly to those interested in abstract painting or art history.
Photos: Adam Bennett
Hantaї, Hartung, Soulages, Tàpies is at the Timothy Taylor Gallery until 18th January 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.