Saturday, 29 March 2008

Paintings I like #1: Agrigente, Nicholas de Stael

It's a bit of an indulgent title for a regular feature - Paintings I like - but, I'll stick with it... also on the grounds that I'm not sure how regular and consistent that feature will be ;)

So, one of the spare large journals I had acquired, found a purpose: I don't quite remember where I read it, but it sounded like a fabulous idea: To keep a record of one's favourite pieces of art, along with some thoughts, ideas, and a bit of analysis of why they are favourites. As doing so would be one way of getting to what gets to you, fires your creative imagination and as such can also inform one's own art.

I mean, it's not really revolutionary, that insight - in particular Casey's excellent series of posts on his Wolf Kahn project does exactly that. Take a look here for a collection of his insightful and fascinating posts, along with some stunning new school color pieces of his own.

So, a bit of longwinded prelude for Painting I like #1. It's been only a couple of months back that I stumbled across a catalogue of Nicholas de Stael's work in my Saturday art group. And it completely threw me: those colours, spaces and lines. His work doesn't seem to be too well-known in the UK, if the unavailability of any English publications is something to go by, but I did one with good reproductions and some text in English, alongside the mostly French descriptions of the paintings.

It was de Stael's abstract, and yet figurative landscapes, which preceeded my recent, and continuing forage into Abstract Expressionism.

Enough said - some more saying to follow in due course. But this is my current favourite of de Stael.

Nicholas de Stael, Agrigente, 1953
Oil on Canvas, 73x100cm, Kunsthaus Zurich

A black sky: flat. Hanging over red and grey. How simple. How dramatic. There is some pale yellow around the sharp edges. A splatter of blue in the foreground.

In the process, I came across thisgreat image library which has by far the most extensive collection of de Stael's paintings online - the Spanish site Ciudad de la pintura, with de Stael's paintings at this site here.


Yellow said...

Oh, I do like this. How can something so simple draw you in like that? Fantastic.

Casey Klahn said...

Yes, very well balanced painting. The black pushes down upon the weighted grey mass. The brush work looks excellent, too.

Thanks for the intro to this artist, and for the link love re: the WK project. I am getting more out of it, personally, than I had expected.

I like Agrigento by de Stael.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the introduction! Very interesting painter. Also, I love your paper project idea. The sample looks very lively and exciting.

Karen Jacobs said...

de Stael was an early favorite of mine... I don't remember seeing this particular painting. Wow! Thanks...

Gesa said...

You're very welcome, Steph, Casey and Lindsay.
It's interesting how some things started do take on a whole life of its own, isn't it - Casey, re your WK project, and as I'm noticing with my found papers idea.
Hello Karen! Now that you've said that de Stael was an early favourite, it makes a lot of sense... I am always enjoying seeing your work.