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"Black, the eternal colour.

As Herbert Logerie wrote in his poem, Colour of Ebony: " The colour black is eternal, and the others are ephemeral ".

Black is not unique, it is multiple: ink black, ebony black, jet black, ivory black...

All these shades of black also remind us of its polysemic dimension. The colour of mourning, monastic humility, bourgeois seriousness, diabolical colour, the colour of elegance and luxury, black has played a special role in the arts down the centuries.

Is black a colour at all? In the classical age, like white, it was excluded from the colour palette. Black was a non-colour, a complement to the three primary colours and their combination.

Yet black is one of the oldest hues in art, along with browns and reds. Obtained from charcoal or manganese dioxide, this color covers all the compositions of prehistoric cave paintings.

During the Roman period, mosaics were very often created with a black motif on a white background. From this period onwards, black was an ambivalent color, referring either to authority and humility, or to the world of the dead.

From the Middle Ages onwards, the color was associated with the forces of evil. But this was also the period when black became a luxurious color, worn by the great bourgeoisie and princes such as the Duke of Burgundy John the Fearless, and this dimension has endured to this day in the collections of the great couturiers.

The invention of printing pitted the black of ink against the white of pages. Engravers invented a new monochromatic palette to enable the works of the great painters to be disseminated through engraving.

In the 19th century, this color became the benchmark for the Romantic movement, expressing dark, melancholy feelings or the horrors of war, as in Francisco Goya's series of " black paintings ".

It was in the 20th century that black took on a new role in art, stripped of its solely negative symbolism, this color became a new horizon for graphic research. Such is the case with Kasimir Malevich's famous " Black Cross on White Background ", or the research into black by Pierre Soulage, André Marfaing and Jackson Pollock, in very different styles.

Through this exhibition, "Noir, couleur éternelle" (Black, eternal color), the Ars Essentia gallery invites us to take a fresh look at black through a selection of works from its collection dating from the 60s to the present day.

Two of César Baldaccini's "arrachages ", images created using inked paper torn from its support, suggest that drawing should not be seen as the addition of materials that are applied to the paper in dabs, but, like sculpture, as the subtraction of materials, with the form emerging as the sculptor carves his block of stone.

Paintings by Michel Cadoret and Oscar Troneck show the use of black either as a color that structures the work through large deposits of black materials in different densities of the black palette, or as a background that highlights the colors of a constructivist composition.

The works exhibited by Jacques Germain and Rudolf Wiesinger represent two approaches to the use of black and white opposites. Jacques Germain's work is a monochrome study that seeks to give compositional strength while creating color in the fusion of deep blacks, gradually mixed with white and a touch of blue.

Rudolf Wiesinger's paintings reveal the density of their black backgrounds through touches of white paint that "obscure" the deep, luminous black.

Finally, Tan Jia-Chung's landscape abstractions are a contribution from Chinese painting, which uses only black ink, the tool of the scholar, and its nuances to render the colors and shapes of the world, rather like black-and-white photographs.

Finally, a work by visual artist Jeff D-Philippot, based on a 3d scan image and a mixture of inkjet printing and paint, questions the boundary between the image captured by new technologies and the traditional representation of the painted portrait.

Black is indeed an infinite territory that is not limited solely to its absorption of light.

Exhibition at ARS ESSENTIA gallery, 9 place Felix Ziem 21 200 Beaune.

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