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gouache on paper, 1954

The 1950s were characterized by the creation of geometric abstract paintings for Poliakoff. However, he remains a painter close to lyrical abstraction, since he relies primarily on color and not on the precision of the line. Moreover, the forms he paints are not strictly geometric and often the color overflows. He relies on it to paint his forms and the choice of it is always based on feelings and sensations. Poliakoff does not represent anything figurative, his emotions are based solely on the creation itself and on the space of the canvas. He had the particularity of painting by superimposing layers of colors: he accumulates layers of paint until he gets the result he wants, with colors more or less deep, more or less transparent. Poliakoff maintains this tension between the colors, at once separated and connected. His way of applying the paint is also particular because he seeks to create a shimmering effect, a sparkle in the color. To do this, he applies the color by multiplying the brushstrokes. The use of gouache, often diluted in water, is therefore useful, because each brushstroke leaves a clear mark, unlike the glaze of oil paint.

Poliakoff chooses earthy, dark colors, which he enhances with smalt blue and red in the upper part of the painting. The harmony of colors is extremely important to Poliakoff, in this painting they are in balance with each other. The paradox, however, lies in the fact that this harmony can be organized around ruptures, and this is the subtlety of Poliakoff's painting: the false cameo of blue-gray of the canvas is counterbalanced by the flat red, even if this contrast remains in the “background”, in the distance, because, being in the upper part of the painting, the color does not directly confront with the eye of the viewer. The effect of the painting is not based on any detail, but on the balance of colors and shapes between them. Poliakoff is certainly very interested in color, but he does not neglect the purely formal aspect. The forms he paints are never the same because the colors he creates are not the same either. Each composition is adapted to these two primordial factors. But Poliakoff's paintings are not only about presenting a harmonious image of shapes and colors, but they are also a moment, an opportunity to question the painter's craft and the identity of a painting.

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