Lot 046 Ravenel Autumn Auction 2019
Les Violents contre eux-mêmes
Gérard GAROUSTE (French, 1946)
1986 - 1987
Oil on canvas
250 x 215 cm
Private collection, Asia
Garouste graduated from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and began his creative career in the 1970s. During this period, the French art scene was in the midst of a pioneering era where nothing was taboo. This era gave birth to a large number of new art mediums and techniques. However, he applied a more traditional approach and returned to the history painting with traditional aesthetics. Literature is an important source of inspiration for Garouste, spanning from Greek and Roman mythology, the Bible, Jewish Classics, The Divine Comedy by Dante, Don Quixote by Cervantes, The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel by Rabelais to Faust by Goethe.
Garouste held his first solo exhibition in 1980 at the Galerie Durand-Dessert in Paris, and rose quickly to fame in the French art scene. As a young rising star, he came and held an exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. Due to his great admiration of Garouste, Castelli purchased and collected a large number of Garouste's huge pieces.
The work Les Violents contre eux-mêmes is one of the greatest works in this series. The dark and gloomy background coupled with the rough and irregular brushwork creates an unsettling hellscape atmosphere. The concrete narrative is combined with abstract and schematic forms of expression. The human figure is reduced to several thick brush strokes, relating to the black lines of Chinese ink painting. The well-arranged light and dark elements evoke a sense of tension and anxiety in the viewer.
The painting depicts the poet Dante as he enters Hades. The sinners who "use violence on their own body" are transformed into cancerous tree with poisonous thorns and fluids gushing out of its broken branches, like blazing fire, flowing into the dazzling gem-like river. Garouste connects literature with surrealistic fantasy to explore the origins of human culture, allowing viewers to interpret the symbolic meanings behind the imagery, and experience the inspiration and power that paintings can bring.
From Paris to the world, Garouste has been exhibiting internationally in top museums and galleries, including Italy's Galleria Sperone, Germany's Rudolf Zwirner, Tokyo's Touko Museum, and the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. The Centre Pompidou held a solo exhibition for him in 1988. In 2009, the French Academy in Rome hosted a large scale retrospective exhibition of Garouste's works. Collections of his works can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Paris Museum of Modern Art, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, and the Santa Monica Art Museum, and more. Public sculptures such as his Défi du Soleil in Le Parc de Saint-Cloud, a national park near Paris can also be seen.
Select: Modern & Contemporary Art
Ravenel Autumn Auction 2019
Sunday, December 1, 2019, 12:00am