DELVAUX Paul
Belgian painter born in Antheit, Belgium, in 1897. This painter was a long time finding his way. He was alternately a Neo-Impressionist and an Expressionist until about the year 1935. Then, the combined influence of Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte drew him into the Surrealist movement. His aim, from then on, was no longer to interpret faithfully the exterior world, but to explore the intimate and secret domain of his inner life. Objective reality ceased to interest him, except as a frame for his dreams. In his depiction of these dreams, one encounters strange combinations of people and places. From their contrasts and affinities, a disquieting poetry is born. Temples, moonlit towns, streets and public squares, empty rooms: these are settings for the same type of woman, young and beautiful, sometimes nude, sometimes dressed in lace, in foliage or in long robes with heavy folds. The painter is obsessed by this person. All his work, except for a few compositions with skeletons, reflects his need to come closer to an ideal being who, as the result of a paradoxical reversal of situations, seems to pursue him, instead of being joined by him. Surrealism, as a movement, envisaged the freeing of man through an appeal to his instincts and his subconscious. Each of its painters used different means of expression and different techniques. Delvaux's style, much more realistic than that of Max Ernst or Joan Miró, is closer to that of Chirico. But whereas Chirico's manner is dry, ascetically bare, deliberately barren, Delvaux is a lyrical artist who has inherited from his Flemish ancestors a taste for harmonious forms. He paints meticulously, but the excess of detail, the literary content of the overworked backgrounds, sometimes divide the attention instead of concentrating it on the principal subject of the picture. Delvaux's palette, sombre at the beginning, has grown progressively brighter until it is now brilliant. Several journeys to Italy have strengthened his taste for bright colours. Some handsome watercolours round off his work, which can be described as classical in method and Surrealist in spirit.
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