L’Outrenoir beyond the « Noir »

As a tribute to Pierre Soulages who yesterday left behind his accomplishments at the honorable age of 102 years, we reflect on his work as a symbiosis: a total asceticism based on darkness as a support for a kaleidoscope of interpretations. A Master of Abstract Art, through dark and light, in a system of antagonism one revealing the other as it does in Argentic Photography. The essence of light could not exist without the invading presence of darkness amid the infinite cosmos of his creation, reverting back to the Black Hole at the origin of his Universe as a child selecting the black predilection. In 2019 Pierre Soulages evoked his darkness leitmotiv:  » I love the authority of black. Its severity, its obviousness, its radicalism. It is a very active colour. It lights up when you put it to a dark colour. »

Darkness in this sense could embody the role of a discipline. Thus it seems justified, in investigating the work of a master such as Soulages, to explore the concept of multiple levels of interpretations, undoubtedly the predominance of a metaphysical and modern vision of Art itself. At the image of a Meta-World to be rebuilt and rethought constantly at the heart of the Creation process.

In the equivoke of a contemporary « Clair Obscur » the true dimension is settled, as the alchemist’s ability to transmute lead into gold, Soulages could also appear as an alchemist, able to burn a piece of art when not satisfied in a vernacular and archaic rite of purification. The artist offers a post Manichean vision where darkness is light as light could be darkness and to resume simply darkness could not exist without the irradiance of light.

This pattern could be applied to many fields of interpretations thinking of the spiritual itinerary of the great Saints or Plato’s myth of the cave.

Soulages in this direction could be an initiated « Cherche Midi », in perpetual quest for light, seen as a liberation through darkness’ original primary support. We can still admire at the Sainte Foy de Conques Church in Aveyron the stain glasses he conceived as at the end of « rue du Cherche Midi  » the same analogy could be associated with the stained glasses of the Saint Sulpice Church in Paris-Ville Lumière, following a unique path of light at its equinox…Light becoming the new redemption for Darkness.

Eglise Saine Foy de Conques
Musée Fabre-Montpellier
Musée Soulages-Rodez