Now through July 2, London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery presents an exhibition of Jean Dubuffet’s late works, featuring paintings, sculpture, and works on paper completed from the late 1960’s through to the 1980′. Works from his L’Hourloupe cycle, pieces from the Théâtres de mémoire, as well as a selection from the Psycho-sites, Mires, and Non-Lieux series join together in the gallery space, marking the artist’s transition from traditional painter to sculptuor and conceptual architect in the late years of his prolific career.
The transformation in Dubuffet’s approach is especially evident in the Hourloupe series. Spanning twelve years of his life, this series of works originated as doodles made with a ballpoint pen while the artist was talking on the phone, transformed into constructed works in various media and mode of execution. Shapes made in black line, with blue and red patches, empty spaces and scrawled clusters serve as a launching point for these objects, and corresponding to his book of the same title, published in 1962, and composed of invented words, decoratively handwritten in white gouache on black paper.
Dubuffet is best known for his invention of the term Art Brut in the late 194o’s, advocating for an ‘outsider art’, or art produced outside of accepted commercial and/or academic circles, and incorporating the works of non-professionals seen to be pushing or transcending these same aesthetic norms. Artworks made by children, psychiatric patients, and prisoners came to factor centrally in this movement. As such, Dubuffet worked with an array of unorthodox materials in producing his work, showcased here in his refined later pieces: sand, straw, and tar are used in his oil paintings to give the paintings a textured appearance, while his Pyscho-sites series, attends to explorations on the limits of art, emphasizing the physical and mental environments of individuals. Isolated figures are suspended within brightly colored containers, with the representation of the mind continued in the Mires series of paintings, where the canvas is treated as ‘mental landscape’. Fluid and intertwining lines of bright primary colors, patches of white or space delineated by black borders express a world of fluidity and discovery.
Dubuffet’s relevance and impact continues to reverberate in the explorations of contemporary painters and sculptors today, presenting a fascinating take on the relationship between the mind and the material world. Here, as the artist perfected his own vernacular, the works seem to achieve his break with the world around him, moving out into its own, free-roving space.
— A. Corrigan