Works on Paper

The creativity of an artist lays not so much in a desire to do or to make but rather in an inner necessity to be and to become. If one is born with such a gift, the need to exercise it is as vital and natural as breathing. Configurations of shapes and colors come early on to the hand, to the heart, to the mind. The conquest pertains to the spirit; it delineates what merits attention and must be expressed and brought to consciousness at a given point in time and place. For this, there must be discipline, simplification, choice and synthesis.

In my oils, the interaction of different sets of complementary tones and strong structures result in formal compositions where all of the elements at play are engineered to become an organic whole, where design and meaning have mostly replaced chance. To be convincing, a linear drawing must display energy and dynamism. Instead of sharpening my pencil to reach a fine point, I flatten its tip to obtain a broad and decisive stroke. Each line, once drawn, is not to be erased; it is an affirmative action with no remorse, similar to the way I precede with pen and ink. It is different for the gouaches. My thoughts revolve around an axis and whirl like a spiral, so the shapes keep changing and became more and more elliptic. I use the pencil in my gouaches like an intaglio needle. In a finished work, the lines are truly incised, which give an effect similar to that of an etching or bas-relief.

In my intaglio prints and original lithographs, the analytical and willful process was even more apparent due to the intrinsic nature of these media. Yet discipline would be nothing without imagination and spontaneity. This aspect of my work, which is also linked with bravura on account of the extreme speed of execution pertaining to printing inks and paints, has always been present in my drawings, India ink washes and watercolors. Since the 1980’s, this has also permeated my monotypes. The flow of consciousness has to reveal itself here and now in emblems and symbols as a volcanic explosion of the inner self as a feast for the eye and for the soul.

I believe that it takes a long time for an artist to become young, meaning candid and easy to approach, yet no longer afraid to show the fireworks of virtuosity.

– Françoise Gilot

My Mother and Myself, 1949

Pencil and gouache on paper
20 x 26 in.
Collection: Mary Jane Salk, New York

Tree and Red Moon, 1963

India ink and gouache
26 x 20 in. (66 x 51 cm.)
Collection: David A. Cutler, California

The Pink Veil, 1942

Pencil and crayon on paper
18 7/8 x 24 3/4 in. (43 x 63 cm.)
Collection: Françoise Gilot, New York

Still Life with Three Stars, 1948

Pencil and gouache on paper
19 3/4 x 26 in. (50 x 66 cm.)

In this work, part of a larger series of still-lifes, Gilot explored the multiplicity of formal and symbolic transmutations obtainable from simple forms. The round shapes – the cherries, their ovoid bowl, the circular forms – Gilot equated with female symbolism. The more aggressive forms – the knife, the triangular shapes – were symbolic of the male. The coffee pot embodies the architectural context of the home. Together they set up a small drama of personal relationships played across the surface of the still life. The whimsical red white and blue colors and white stars against which the objects are set were not solely from the artist’s imagination but rather derived from the first rooms Gilot and Picasso shared in Golfe-Juan at the home of the old master printer, Louis Fort. Gilot remembers that Monsieur Fort, in his naiveté, had worked hard to decorate the rooms in an original manner. One room was painted royal blue spattered with white, the ceiling studded in white stars edged in red, all the furniture painted red with white stars. This simple still life is quintessential Gilot, combining formal ideas with symbolic meaning and autobiographical references.

Clariere, 1989

41 3/4 x 29 1/2 in. (106 x 75 cm.)

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