Pierrette Bloch — Quelques traits...

Exhibition

Drawing

Pierrette Bloch
Quelques traits...

Ends in 6 days: April 28 → July 28, 2018

For almost ten years now, the Galerie Karsten Greve has been actively supporting Pierrette Bloch’s work. The exceptional selection of works of this retrospective — most of which unseen before — bears witness to the passion with which Karsten Greve continues to promote and defend this visual arts pioneer, whose work is based on the artist’s repetitive, yet always singular gestures.

Pierrette Bloch’s work, deeply rooted in drawing, would infuse draughtsmanship itself with innovation and offer it top billing amongst contemporary visual art practices: thus infusing abstraction with new artistic subtleties and poetry. Born in 1928, Pierrette Bloch shares with other artists of her generation, such as Cy Twombly and Pierre Soulages, a resolve to attain the very essence of art using consecutive morphological elements of pictorial creation. The dot, the line and the relationship that is established with surfaces has constituted Pierrette Bloch’s work for over sixty years. But, far removed from the heroism of Soulages’ outrenoir or the tragic nature of Twombly’s painting, Pierrette Bloch had channelled all of her strength via her choice of an apparently silent type of work. Her pieces are indeed defined by their spare means — ink, crayon, pastel, horse mane hair — as well as colours — black and white — with which she has successfully created extremely liberated pieces. Even though she maintained a modest lifestyle and avoided the jet set, her relationships with the most important artists of her generation were sincere and long lasting. Her work does not only resonate within the abstract art endeavours of the 50s and 60s, it pioneered new choices with regards to supports and materials, far removed from the boundaries of traditional painting. Thanks to her curiosity for and approach to the materials she used, Pierrette Bloch has often been defined as the forerunner of the French Support/Surface Group, active in France between the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s.

Greve2 1 medium
Pierrette Bloch, Sans titre, 1978 Fountain pen and white ink on black Vergé paper — 8 1/4 × 11 3/4 in Pierrette Bloc & Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris

Pierrette Bloch drawings invite the onlooker’s eyes on a voyage, one that skims across surfaces according to the dance-like rhythms found in the relationship between the artist’s creative touch and the support itself. Each drawing is therefore like a promenade during which the only rule is the unexpected. A unique perception of time dominates her creative process. The importance of the ’now’ for Pierrette Bloch transforms her drawings into a kind of ’spirit adventure’ where each handmade mark in the series highlights their individual uniqueness, not similarity. This perception of time links to the present, to spontaneity and to the joy of playing a game in which the rules — if there are any — are being established throughout the creative process itself. This lack of rules, this deliberate infringement, distinguishes Pierrette Bloch’s work from the act of writing itself with which it has nonetheless often been associated. In her works the organisational layout of the markings is driven by the primal rules of artistic creation; not by a quest for meaning. The morphological elements that forge her language are shape, space and colour: thus connecting her work more so with artists like Franz Kline than with those similar to Mark Tobey.

In the works in Indian ink on paper — materials she began to use systematically in 1971 — the traces of ink and the surface of the paper left blank are imbued with equal worth, the whole owing its artistic value to the relationship between black and white, plenitude and the void. Black, the dominant colour in Pierrette Bloch’s compositions, makes its mark on the medium, shimmering in a limitless palette of hues arising by chance — a drop of water more or less here, a slight tremor in the fingers or a slightly heavier stroke of the hand there. The delicately distinguishable original elements within each drawing carry subtle uniqueness that imbues each piece with a sense of freedom.

Pierrette Bloch has been acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s masters of abstraction. Her work is part of numerous public collections in France and worldwide, amongst these are: the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, as well as the MoMA and the Joseph and Annie Albers Foundation in the United States, the Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan, and the Eilat Museum in Israel. Such global recognition, coupled with the desire to preserve the memory of this great lady of abstract art, have become the basis of a project, currently underway, to create a foundation.

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Pierrette Bloch (1928-2017) was born in Paris to Swiss parents; she lived and worked in both Paris and Bages (in the region of Aude, France). Between 1947 and 1948 she studied with André Lhote and Henri Goetz. Her first exhibition took place at the Parisian Galerie Mai in 1951. In 2005 she receives the Prix Maratier awarded by the Fondation Pro-MAHJ. In 2002 the Centre Georges Pompidou dedicates an extensive monographic exposition to her and in 2014 her body of work is featured in the exposition Pierrette Bloch — Punkt, Linie, Poesie at the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern (Germany). That same year, the Musée Jenisch de Vevey (Switzerland) pays homage to her with a first retrospective, Pierrette Bloch : L’intervalle. The Galerie Karsten Greve organised the last monographic exposition in the artist’s presence in 2017.