Vide des choses intérieures et extérieures 11/1959

Jean Degottex

Date : 1959

Medium : Painting

Size : 130 x 400 cm

Constantly evolving throughout his career, Degottex never stopped his examination of writing, colour, space and matter in an extraordinarily varied body of work.

The guide

The first thing that strikes us when viewing this artwork is its monumentality and unusual format: a long (1.3m by 4m) swath of paint.

This horizontal format invites us to take a walk in front of the work. Walk, certainly, but in a very specific direction, from left to right, as if the painter has established a direction for reading.

Let’s follow him!

Jean Degottex was born in 1918 in the Ain region and dedicated himself after the war to resolutely abstract painting that lies between gestural painting and lyrical abstraction. A worthy heir of the pioneer of abstraction, it is no surprise that he received the Kandinsky Prize in 1951.

However, he set himself apart with his lifelong pursuit of fundamental research into the meaning of painting, the mark, the empty space.

His visual practice was also strongly marked by his interest in Chinese calligraphy and Zen philosophy. Is this not what we feel before this work, the title of which clearly announces his intention?  “Vide des choses extérieures et intérieures” (“Empty of Exterior and Interior Things”).

The vast expanse of black is immediately striking, its density captivates us, as if wanting to absorb us bodily into the pictorial space. The canvas is chiefly livened up by white marks deployed almost like a giant signature from left to right, punctuated by a few red streaks.
The speed of execution and the amplitude of the gestures suggest a physical exchange between the artist and the canvas.

But these essential marks remind us of the artist’s words about his painting: (“That’s all there is. In fact, it’s always too much”.)