Goodbye Matisse

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

ArtZine bade farewell to Matisse’s prints as they left Singapore’s Tyler Print Institute. It was Singapore’s first solo exhibition of French modern master Henri Matisse‘s works, Housed by the STPI from May 9 to Aug 16, the installation showcased Matisse’s works from 1917 – 1952, when Matisse’s works evolved to concentrate on simplicity. He experimented with lines, form and composition in lithography.

We took a walk through the Matisse exhibition on the closing day just to say our last goodbyes. Here’s how it went:

All around, we were greeted by white walls. The silence and stillness of the gallery was almost deafening; it was sinful to even let out a whisper.

Pausing to read a wall telling of Matisse’s background and another wall full of milestones (that were thankfully in an easy to read, chronological order), we were simply itching to see Matisse’s works. (It was an awful lot to read and to be honest, we ended up skimming through the words on the wall because it was too wordy.)

The first collection of “La Danseur” showed his artistic process – with each sketch, you could see how his work progressed: the simplified lines, removal of details and joined curves.

(Side note: Many other artists loved to have dancers as their subject matter. Eg: French painters Degas & Toulouse-Lautrec. Read about the difference between their depicted dancers here)

French classes definitely proved to be useful as we walked through the gallery and read off the french titles. Beautifully curated, the walkthrough was a breeze.

Looking at the lithographs, you’d notice incomplete lines (as if hanging in mid-air) yet if you looked closer, the languid movement and curved lines somehow connect automatically by one’s imagination. arabesque-1924

In the 1920’s, Matisse showed signs of Odalisque influences. Often he depicted women lying langoriously with oriental motifs as the background. Like mould that spread, the motifs soon spread to appear on the woman’s dresses – making the odalisque ‘one with the background’ (almost fading into the background, we say) Take a look at Arabesque (1924). (left)

In Matisse’s 1948 Aquatint series, he concentrated on faces; the eyes, nose and mouth were decreased to mere lines. From flatness, he later added depth by creating a 3/4 series. Angular features appeared in Nadia – 1948 who had sultry lips and a sharply pointed nose.

What others said about the French master:

“The simplicity of form and line convey sensuality . Still life and interior art are brought to life with women as primary subjects, as depicted in Matisse’s Orientalist odalisque portrayals.” – Lifestyle Singapore

“Matisse set the foundations for the development of Modern Western art. Matisse’s conquest of colour and composition is displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century.” – Dr. Sian Eira Jay

“I liked some of the litography works, studies of the female form.” – Lainie, Malaysian

Read about STPI’s print workshop here!

– Valerie Oliveiro

Image of gallery from Lainie.

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