oil on canvas
130 x 97 cm (51 1/8 x 38 1/4 in.)
signed lower left
Poliakoff's "Composition abstraite", which he created in 1961 and revised in 1966, radiates the compositional strength and understanding of form that are so characteristic of Serge Poliakoff's mature work. Poliakoff mixes his colors himself from pure pigment, entirely out of the current inspiration. Intuitively, he covers the canvas with glowing layers of warm red and yellow on the black underneath. Poliakoff, who previously worked professionally as a musician, transfers musical compositional principles into his paintings, the asymmetry of which derives from his idea of creating an image in which all elements of color, proportion and form are in perfect balance. This attitude and balance, which he described as the stillness of perfection, is evident in the way the irregular, warm colored areas interlock on the canvas. The work radiates a latent liveliness and harmonious energy, which is achieved through refined tonal contrasts and carefully modeled shapes that oscillate between organic and geometric appearance. "Composition abstraite" reflects the artist's belief that space, not the artist, has to model the shapes. They should be partly like a sculpture, partly like architecture. The geometric shape has to transform into an organic shape, and it is the inner pressure of the space that does this. Serge Poliakoff summarized this principle as follows: "Space creates form - not the other way round".