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Art Editorial

matisse18.jpg Absoluteness and abstraction

He’s arguably the greatest artist of the 20th century and prints of some of his late works are coming to the Gala Gallery in Durham this February and March. Welcome Matisse.

Even during Henri Matisse’s later years, when he was in his 80s, chair and bed bound and crippled with abdominal cancer, his creativity burned with a fierce intensity that resulted in a series of paper collages that would go on to become some of his most famous works, including The Snail and The Blue Nudes series. For these cut-outs he used paper that had been hand painted with gouache, which he then carved into with scissors. He commented: “The paper cut-out allows me to draw in colour. Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it, I draw straight into the colour.” And what colour! These luminous works shimmer, exploding with a lust for life that flew in the face of his condition.

Matisse: Drawing With Scissors, is a Hayward Touring exhibition from the Southbank Centre and features 35 prints of these famous works that were all produced in the last four years of his life. The lithographic reproductions are taken from a special double issue of Verve, a review of art and literature published by Matisse’s friend, the critic and fine art publisher Tériade in 1958, four years after the artist’s death. The publication was planned during Matisse’s lifetime and the first lithographic plates were prepared under his direction a few days before he died. Final word to the great man: “There is no gap between my earlier pictures and my cut-outs. I have only reached a form reduced to the essential through greater absoluteness and great abstraction.”

Matisse: Drawing With Scissors, 17 February-18 March, Gala Gallery, Gala Theatre, Durham. galadurham.co.uk