Nicolas de Staël, oil on linen, 135cm X 183cm, 2013

Nicolas de Staël, oil on linen, 135cm X 183cm, 2013

[2013 Throwback] Nicolas de Staël: Somewhere Between Abstraction and Figuration

My love affair with painting began when I was a teen reading the books of Albert Camus in the Folio Gallimard edition. 


The covers were illustrated with the vividly coloured paintings of French (Russian born) painter Nicolas de Staël.

De Staël’s work dazzlingly walks on the very thin line between abstraction and figuration. What seems at first glance to be flat slowly reveals space through perspective, colour vibration and the overlap of thickly painted shapes. It suggests more than it describes anything. 

I remember the lack of moral and the bluntness of Camus’ main character in The Stranger (L’Étranger), but for me it’s his deep sensuousness that makes that book so indissociable from the visual realm of De Staël.

When I painted the portrait of De Staël in 2013, I wanted to convey that sensuousness drunken with colours, along with the despair of that great painter who, unfortunately, committed suicide. (He jumped off the terrace of his studio at 41 years old.)

During my teenage years, I think I deeply related to that despair. But then I discovered the truly comforting power of art. And my life changed…

The entire process was documented in the video above, which has been strangely racking up a massive amount of views lately – if anyone knows why, let me know!

This portrait is still available. Email for inquiry.

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