The exhibition of paintings by André Cottavoz at Abby M Taylor Fine Art entitled Deep in Paint, 1950-1972 is a dynamic body of works from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. In the tradition of the great French colorists such as Pierre Bonnard, André Cottavoz expresses in his paintings a trend amongst some post World War II French artists who belonged to the Lyon School of New Figuration to search for a strong light in their works. The painter Paul Philibert-Charrin addressed the press after the group’s first successful salon:
“What we are after is a salon for people under thirty. We belong to no school. Our only principle is to paint in the light, with allegiance to no technique.”
Such illumination was not only a product of the natural light but also an emanation of light that seemed to originate and to spring forth from the very canvas itself.
These paintings are exuberant in character, and their heavy impasto invite comparison to some of the most provocative artists of the 20th century. Many of the portraits in this exhibition have the intellectual and psychological approach to be found in a Chaim Soutine portrait. They also predate Frank Auerbach’s approach to portraits which exhibit an existential approach.
Many of the small works in the exhibition are the “crème of the crop”. These paintings display a number of strata of paint and images which Cottavoz applied with a brush, a palette knife and in some instances with fingers as well. Through these multiple sheaths of compelling colors and almost in spite of them the paintings triumphantly and determinedly glow from within and project both a lightness as well as a brightness despite the heavy impastoed layers of paint. The result is a light, bold, and innovative, rather than a heavy, dull, or weighty work that showcases the freedom that Cottavoz felt compelled to paint without restrictions or preconceived requirements.
These paintings will fascinate as one attempts to discern their true content. A prolific painter who found a style that translated well in the commercial sense, Cottavoz was also a member of the Lyon School of New Figuration. Abby M Taylor Fine Art is pleased to present this artist’s work as it was done during a timeframe in France that is just beginning to be re-examined. He is an artist that has developed a strong Asian following and can appeal to contemporary or traditional collectors.
On View Through February 28th.