Untitled (After Soulages; Painting, 195 x 130 cm, May 1953; 1953), 2022
Charcoal on mounted paper
243.8 x 161.8 cm
[from the pressrelease]
American artist Robert Longo presents his most recent series of monumental charcoal drawings paying homage to the European pioneers of post-war art. Following his 2014 series of drawings based on American Abstract Expressionism, in this exhibition, Longo explores the work of Karel Appel, Sandra Blow, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hartung, Hans Hofmann, Asger Jorn, Yves Klein, Willem de Kooning, Maria Lassnig, Piero Manzoni, Joan Mitchell, Pierre Soulages, Wols and Zao Wou-Ki. Transposing their disparate works into a large-scale format and shades of black and white, Longo brings together the different approaches of these painters to form a new, unified visual language (…)
The process of creating a charcoal drawing is almost entirely opposite to the process of creating a traditional painting. Starting with a white page, Longo gradually and meticulously darkens certain areas to create shadow, ending with the points of deepest black, whereas, in a traditional painting, highlights are applied at the end, over the darker tones.
Where black and white photography tends to equalise darker shades of different colours, the artist also works to maintain the infinite nuances of the original colours in his shades of grey. Carefully analysing the colours of each original work, he carefully nuances his work to distinguish what would originally have been a dark red from a dark blue (…)
Longo’s drawings are saturated with the time of their making. His approach is measured, even ‘forensic’. But as he studies every brushstroke, carefully recreating their material modulations and nuances of colour out of dry, black charcoal, he celebrates the materiality of paint that is, according to Font-Réaulx, ‘the sensitive and intimate meaning of these works’.
In this way, Longo not only establishes a dialogue between drawing and painting, but also calls into question the value systems of the art world, prompting us to revisit our relationship to images.