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Judit Reigl: First Abstraction

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One year after the death of Judit Reigl, the Dina Vierny gallery is pleased to present an exhibition dedicated to the artist’s first abstract works. Bringing together key canvases from his best-known series, as well as paintings presented in 1954 at Etoile scellée, André Breton’s gallery, the exhibition explores a panorama that is both historical and didactic in which Reigl’s gesture is affirmed, witness of her first great years.

« The selection of works in ‘Judit Reigl First Abstraction’ takes the viewer on a journey: a journey of signs and visual experiences that signify the explosion of life itself, while paradoxically a journey back into artistic debates in postwar Paris from 1954 to 1966. Looking back in time we reflect upon Reigl’s production in series following her surrealist moment: the Outburst, Mass Writing, Centre of Dominance, Presence and Guano paintings. The primary relationship between these forms is Reigl’s own body: both instrument and obstacle. Crucial to this exhibition and to a fresh reading of Reigl — so challenging in view of an abundance of critical writing — is not the issue of series but that of paradigm change, first conceptualised in 1962. The paradigm change here, through the prism of one individual, demonstrates how when one series ends, another bursts forth with new energy. »

(Excerpt from the text « Judit Reigl, Stories from the Universe » written by Sarah Wilson, art historian and curator, professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, for the exhibition catalog – available at the gallery).

Judit Reigl is a painter who was surrealist, abstract and figurative in turn. When she arrived in Paris in 1950 she met up with a fellow student from the Beaux-Arts in Budapest, Simon Hantaï, who introduced her to André Breton. Breton was attracted to her surrealist paintings and invited her to exhibit at L’Étoile scellée. Later, she moved away from surrealism and painted a number of sequences that were striking for the intensity of their gestures: ‘Outbursts’ (1955-1958), ‘Centres of Dominance’ (1958-1959), and ‘Mass Writings’ (1959-1965). During this period she strewed her failed attempts all over the floor of her studio, trampled and spilt paint on them, then picked them up again and reworked them: these are the ‘Guano’ (1958-1965).

But what Judit Reigl sought, rather than the formal elegance of the gesture, was its authenticity. This work culminated in the abstract series of the ‘Unfoldings’ (1973-1985), where the artist explored an automatic writing made of a coloured tracery emerging transparently through the back of the canvas. Judit Reigl digs down into the deepest experience of her existence to develop a vast, complex reflection on what it is to be human. Her work is a search for the essential and the absolute, and a witness to the unknown.

Judit Reigl received the Aware Honorary Award in 2017 .

Her work is presented in the following museums: MoMA, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Center Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris; Dina Vierny Foundation – Maillol Museum, Paris; MAC VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine; Museum of Fine Arts, Caen; Museum of Fine Arts, Grenoble; Fabre Museum, Montpellier; Museum of Fine Arts, Nantes; Arsenal, contemporary art museum, Soissons; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Tate Modern, London; The Albertina Museum, Vienna; Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest.

Du 8 septembre au 20 novembre 2021

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Copyright Galerie Dina Vierny 2017