What is the “black light” of Pierre Soulages?

Published on : 05 April 20213 min reading time
Pierre Soulages, born in Rodez, Aveyron, on 24 December 1919, is a French painter and printmaker who has been involved in abstract art since the late 1940s. He is most famous for his reflection on black. “Noir lumière” or “outrenoir” he calls it. He is one of the main representatives of informal painting.

What can be said about the “black light” of Pierre Soulages?

The abstract art of the French painter Pierre Soulages consists mainly of the colour black. Since 1979, he has been using only this colour, which makes his various works special. This passion is a work about the soul and to illustrate this point, he has chosen 80 paintings (more than 3,000) which have highlighted his artistic development. These works must be specially illuminated and photographed. The soul is very clear and concise, using poetry as a boundary, telling of his fascination with darkness, expressing his reflection on contradictions and the essential relationship with light. This charming figure has given no explanation for his paintings, but his reflection on life and work illuminates their elemental and mysterious beauty. Presenting images of the houses and workshops he built in Sète and the church in Conk, he has made 95 stained glass windows for them since 1989. His works try to show his genius: an extraordinary person.

What does the reflected black in the works of Pierre Soulages show?

In fact, it is correct to call this work black paint because it is composed of a single pigment: a black pigment and a binder. The painter is interested in the reflection of light on this black surface state (change of surface state). Initially, the canvas was completely black instead of the traditional white or red. Traditionally, the painter painted the canvas red, but Pierre Soulages painted it black and then worked with light that reflected the surface finish of the colour he was wearing. What he wants is a special quality of light when it is reflected from black, a colour that is different from the quality of light reflected from blue or yellow or other colours.  He said that the black side is extreme dark, there is no colour darker than black, and secondly, it is also a bright colour. Pierre Soulages wants to show the relationship between these two variables and the darkness in his works.

What does light represent in the paintings of Pierre Soulages?

Light is a material because even if the light in the work is not used to reflect black, it will appear brighter when a dark colour is placed opposite black (for example, grey). Black light” is ultimately based on this: you choose a colour that looks dark, place the darkest colour in parallel (black), and the former suddenly appears bright. Therefore, light plays a big role. It’s another way of looking at light.

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