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gouache on paper, 1958

In this painting, Poliakoff multiplies the forms. This gives the opportunity to confront more colors and shades. Poliakoff's painting works by juxtapositions, which means the painter first paints the entire surface with a single color, then adds another color, then another... which he paints over the previous ones. At the same time as this process of juxtapositions, the painter creates various geometrical forms. However, these forms are not strict, which gives the feeling of a certain sensitivity because he does not aim at formal perfection. On the other hand, what Poliakoff seeks is the harmony of colors and shapes. The colors of this gouache on paper are like pearlescent or evoke the reflection of silk or velvet for the colors. Poliakoff works the material meticulously, giving it this aspect. The choice of geometrical figures close to the trapezoid, the rectangle or the square accentuates this effect of shimmering. It gives the impression of observing the different facets of a shape, as well as the different ways that light reflects on them. By making the colors vibrate, Poliakoff works the texture of his canvas. The cameo of light colors (pink, beige, white) accentuates the textured effect of the canvas as each color appears as a variation of the adjacent one. The pinkish colors are enhanced by the deep blues. The light and dark colors contrast but also match. The painter is constantly seeking for harmony in his paintings and to achieve this, it is necessary to create chiaroscuro, it is necessary to present different contrasts.

Poliakoff is a painter of abstraction, he does not paint anything figurative. Therefore, he draws the viewer's attention to the way of painting, to the elements of the canvas which are both the means of painting and the final result. This canvas is remarkable for the application of the paint: Poliakoff often chooses gouache, a paint that can be diluted or not with water, and which has qualities that oil does not have. Gouache is somewhere between covering and transparency: it is both a thick and covering paint but can reveal a certain transparency when it is worked or mixed. Poliakoff's works of the 1950's foreshadow the future reflections of post-painterly abstraction painters. Because he creates a work that is self-aware, that contains within itself reflections on what painting is.

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