FREEDOM OF THOUGHT ...
A fresh language in the Visual Arts
Abstraction in his blood
Dewasne dives in abstraction as a means of expression early in his career. He is less interested in the subject matter of an artwork than in the shift from light to dark. Following the realisation that his underlying inspiration is not typically identifiable in his art, he definitively gives up subjects to dedicate himself to the dynamics of shape. His first exhibition takes place in 1942, he paints his first abstract works in 1943.
Aged only 27, he publishes his “Traité d’une peinture plane ” (Treatise on textureless painting) (1948) in which he defines the principles of what will become geometric abstraction and direct his entire work. He is the most active abstract painter in the post war period, giving many lectures and founding his own studio (l’Atelier de l’art abstrait) in 1950. Not content simply to break with figurative tradition, he also differentiates himself from the abstract language of the beginning of the 20th century. Earlier abstract painters (Kandinsky, Mondrian,…) are thus considered “spiritualists” whereas he sees himself as a “materialist”.
Following the barbarism of the Second World War and the concurrent flourishing of modern media technologies (cinema, radio, photography), Dewasne fears disinterest in art and feels the urgent need for inventing a new visual language picturing the new world born in pain.
He wants the artist to be truly active, committed to society, rather than restricting himself to his own personal sensibility to represent reality. According to him Art should “be involved in world changes by leading the way to knowledge”.
A few keys to understand Dewasne art
Where is beauty?
Sometimes much more in industrial productions than in contemporary art.
Where is aesthetic experience?
Never again in an object intended to deliver it.
Which approach to drawing?
It must be free, vibrant, beyond academic rules. Lines appear to the eye only when two colour blocks are set side by side. Lines are never random.
How important is colour?
Colour-light or colour-texture, it should express its maximum intensity. Colour blocks are flat, with neither texture nor “fuss” laid out on perfectly smooth, level materials that enhance it, i.e. metal as opposed to canvas grain. Dewasne initially invents a technique based on traditional colours, replacing oil with varnish but later moves to using fluid and pure serigraphic inks sourced from Switzerland.
His work follows two major researches:
Monumental works intended for public places allowed him to experiment big formats, the scale providing the colour blocks with maximum intensity.
“Antisculptures”: borrowing heavily from industry, antisculptures are his favoured means of exploring new art forms.