Pierre Fichet at the Diane de Polignac Gallery

Pierre Fichet at the Diane de Polignac Gallery

Pierre Fichet at the Diane de Polignac Gallery, until June 29, 2024 — an exceptional retrospective dedicated to Pierre Fichet, titled “The Bateau-Lavoir Years.”

Pierre Fichet at the Diane de Polignac Gallery: The Bateau-Lavoir Years

Pierre Fichet at the Diane de Polignac Gallery is an event highlighting a significant period in the history of French art. Focusing on Pierre Fichet’s work, centered on his years spent in the legendary Parisian studio of the Bateau-Lavoir, the gallery invites visitors to (re)discover the powerful and evocative creations of this major 20th-century artist.

Born in Paris in 1927, Pierre Fichet was trained by the Italian neo-impressionist painter Dominique Aldighieri before definitively turning to abstract painting in 1952. His conversion to Catholicism in his youth influenced his early abstract works, which bore religious titles such as Moines de Zurbaran and Voile de Véronique.

Gradually, Pierre Fichet abandoned these explicit references to make way for pure abstraction, nevertheless marked by a constant search for spirituality and transcendence.

Mathilde Gubanski, the head of the Diane de Polignac Gallery, details for Icon-Icon: “Pierre Fichet occupied a studio at the Bateau-Lavoir from 1981 to 2007. These 26 years at the Bateau-Lavoir earned him the reputation of being one of the gentlemen of lyrical abstraction.” This mythical place, nestled in Montmartre and known for having hosted iconic figures such as Picasso, Apollinaire, and Modigliani, became Pierre Fichet’s creative space in 1981. Sharing his studio with painter Claude Georges, Pierre Fichet developed a rich and complex body of work. This place, rebuilt after a fire in 1970, provided the artist with a space conducive to exploring new techniques and expressing his artistic vision.

Mathilde Gubanski further explains: “Pierre Fichet’s art is characterized by the use of oil paint. He maintained this technique throughout his life. While many artists of the 70s switched to acrylic, Fichet did not like it at all. He wanted to continue with oil paint.” This fidelity to oil paint allowed Pierre Fichet to create very rich effects of texture and transparency.

Pierre Fichet’s work is distinguished by the use of long vertical and horizontal bars, revealing the internal complexity of the painting. These structuring masses are recurring elements that translate the artist’s antagonisms and ambiguities. Pierre Fichet himself stated that “the risk-taking of instinctive gesture is underpinned by thought,” highlighting the duality between spontaneity and control in his creative process.

The 1990s marked a notable evolution in his work with off-center compositions, smooth areas disrupted by flashes and points of incandescence, reinforcing the magmatic nature of his works. This period also saw the artist questioning painting itself, in a constant dialogue between impulse and restraint, form and chaos, evoking a “shaping of concentrated ideas.”

These works fall under lyrical abstraction — a movement named by Georges Mathieu and including artists such as Gérard Schneider, Hans Hartung, and Pierre Soulages… characterized by exaltation and gestural spontaneity as driving forces.

“It all comes from great meditation and learning. You have to know how to compose a painting, you have to know how to construct it,” reminds us the head of the Diane de Polignac Gallery.

Mathilde Gubanski rightly emphasizes Fichet’s mastery in the use of colors: “Pierre Fichet’s palette is very characteristic. You’ll see, it’s a variation on the three primary colors, as well as black and white.”

Pierre Fichet used these colors in multiple variations, offering a visual richness that attracts and captivates the eye. His compositions, often based on a limited palette, reveal impressive depth and complexity.

His commitment to lyrical abstraction earned him high praise, such as from Herta Wescher who wrote: “The act of painting is for him akin to a religious cult… their mystical sense spreads in the subtle reflections of light, in the strange radiance of colors.”

Pierre Fichet participated in numerous prestigious exhibitions throughout his career, from the Salons des Indépendants and d’Automne in France to the Paris Biennale. His works are now part of major public collections such as the Centre National des Arts Plastiques in Paris and the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris.

Speaking about his work, Mathilde Gubanski also quotes a significant phrase from the artist: “Abstraction is not an escape from reality but a deeper immersion into the essence of things.” For Pierre Fichet, abstraction is an image from within, a painting of the intimate and the mental.

Finally, Pierre Fichet remained faithful to his art until his death in 2007, leaving behind a legacy of vibrant and dynamic compositions. The retrospective at the Diane de Polignac Gallery offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the evolution of his style and the depth of his artistic commitment.

A captivating selection of Pierre Fichet’s works, offering a glimpse into his artistic journey… Among these exhibited pieces, “ARAN” (2001) stands out for its mastery of oil on canvas, creating deep and textured compositions through layered effects and transparency.

Two untitled works from 2002 show the artist’s constant evolution in his exploration of lyrical abstraction. The first, measuring 97 x 162 cm, demonstrates his dynamism with vibrant colors and spontaneous brushstrokes. The second, measuring 100 x 81 cm, continues to explore the themes of color and material, adding depth to the composition with overlapping and transparency effects.

Finally, “Les Feux de la Passion” (2004) is an explosion of bright colors and intense textures — its evocative title adding an emotional dimension to this powerful composition, illustrating the passion and energy that characterize Fichet’s work.

The exhibition “The Bateau-Lavoir Years” thus promises to celebrate the career of a painter whose work continues to inspire and fascinate!

See it until June 29 at the Diane de Polignac Gallery, 2Bis Rue de Gribeauval, 75007 Paris.