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Lot title: Le Depart (Melancholy)

 
Lot description:

Oil on canvas
100 x 70 cm (39.37 x 27.56 in.)
Executed in 1957
Signed ‘Paul G. 57’ on the lower right and ‘Paul G.’ on the mid right level
The painting is signed, titled, dated Florence 1957 and dedicated on the reverse to Mrs. Adibé Maalouf - Sao Paulo

 Provenance:   The collection of Mrs. Nohad Geagea, who inherited it from her mother, Mrs. Adibé Maalouf, who was living in Sao Paulo, Brazil

 Literature and references:

Emmagos, P. Guiragossian, illustrated in full color page p. 93
Movses Zirani, P. Guiragossian, illustrated in full color page p. 35
Photo of the artist with the artwork may have been taken in La Permanente & Schubert gallery in 1958,
courtesy from the artist estate ( Download photo )
Art from Lebanon, Modern and Contemporary Artists 1880-1975/Volume I, Nour Salamé Abillama
and Marie Tomb ( Download Book )
Istambul biennale letter of request dated 3 March 2015 ( Download Letter )

 



 

Artwork note:

Like most great artists, the personal life of Paul Guiragossian has had a great impact on and played a major role in the themes of his artwork. Sadness, melancholy, and despair are evident subjects personified through the sick, the elderly, mother and child, and porters, which left a profound impression on the young artist’s life.
 
The elements of composition in relation to the symbolic interpretation of his famous painting ‘Le Depart’ is what distinguishes this specific masterpiece.
 
The five figures in the painting (three women, one of which is pregnant, a child and a man) stand simultaneously in the center in front of a background composed purely of tones of color that alone create a field of perspective and depth. The tall woman in the middle acts as the central median while enveloping this rigid axis with the charming rotations and positions of her body.
 
The subtle difference in tints of the dominant blue color merges the composition into a monochromatic ambiance and the application of the paint in massive concrete strokes serve to intensify the cold sad atmosphere of the painting. However, hope and optimism are hinted at by adding a dab of pink.

The three women in the center are distinguished by their remarkable characteristics. Their long hands, angular faces, and elongated silhouettes harmonize with their thick, dark, curved contours. Their anatomy is broken down into several shapes as opposed to the block-like bodies of the child and man. The details and patterns in the women’s colorful dresses with refined strokes come in contrast to the mass of surrounding color. The composure of their bodies, with tilting hands and fragile thin fingers, redefine graceful feminine gestures and serve to give the painting an elegant decorative aspect.
 
The artwork is divided into three separate planes: the larger light bottom, the narrow top, and the center with the figures. The artist places the group of people higher in the composition, giving it a floating sensation that challenges the rules of gravity, a matter that is brilliantly counter-balanced by lightening the hues of the narrow upper part, releasing the tension of the tight space formed between the heads of the figures and the borders of the painting.
 
The figure of the man who has his back to the viewer seems to be fading into the blue-green tones of the background in contrast to the vivid sharp colors of the women and their clothing, suggesting that he is about to depart while the others mourn his absence. What is quite intriguing in this composition is that balance is preserved in his presence or absence. If he were to be omitted from the painting, one would not notice it; instead, the point of focus would be transferred from the tall woman in the middle to the child in red.

‘Le Depart’ is a masterpiece that brilliantly depicts the melancholy of departure and captures the moment when a beginning and an end meet simultaneously.


 
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