Luc Peire : When Geometry Goes beyond Emotion

15 June - 20 July 2017


Patrick-Gilles Persin



    The painter Luc Peire, following a long and slow evolution, moved forward on his own in unusual spaces that he knew how to generate by way of the vertical line. This vertical line is often organized into finely nuanced and highly colored compositions, naturally with exception of the Graphies, that are in black and white.


    Born in Bruges in Belgium in 1916, Luc Peire had classical training in his native city and later at Gand and Anvers. He met Constant Permeke in about 1935 and began to work for him. Under Permeke’s guidance and thanks to his advice Peire began to acquire his artistic independence. At just twenty two years old he had his first exhibition and won the Prix de Rome in 1947. He left for the Belgian Congo in 1952 where he was able to depict his vision of daily life there by way of his painting. It was a period that he himself will define as “metaphysical”, during which he will develop an “abstract metaphysical tendency”.


    In time he became friends with various artistic and cultural personages, among whom was Michel Seuphor, Leo Breuer, Eduardo Westerdahl, Alberto Sartoris, Henri Chopin and the Catalan sculptor Subirachs. All in the midst of frequent travel, given that it was only in 1959 Luc Peire and his wife Jenny decided to settle down in Paris, sojourning at Knokke in Belgium only during the summer. His aesthetic and professional positions as well as his disinterest in fashions brought the artist much respect from both colleagues and the art world in general.


    Luc Peire evolved from an expressionist experience. He slowly distanced himself from his 1951 emblematic piece La famille Godderis, a very figurative painting which presaged a tranquil and imminent evolution. He found himself in Africa the following year; the so-called, for his art, “Congolese period”. The human forms began to evolve little by little to then become nothing more than vertical traces upon which were mounted oval forms identifiable as faces. He slowly cancelled the exterior effects until, progressively, he eliminated everything in favor of a more radical geometry. The process of synthesis was at work. The parallel lines therefore evolved in order to accommodate their heaviness and were arranged in ever renewed planes and developments. The colors took on all their weight. The pictorial technique left bare the manner and the process of the artist. This in order to express the will of the painter who wished that his brushstrokes remain visible on the colored fields such that the human presence of the artist in the midst of his work remain visible, to be face to face with his work and his search. 


    Luc Peire freely admitted that the vertical, for him, had not been a categorical and intentional decision but rather the arrival point of an evolution. He, in fact, advanced toward ever more sober, fleshless forms. They establish themselves, vibrant and at times imperceptible, rhythms and proportions that create totally new and limitless spaces. The line/color tension allows the space to vibrate intensely and continuously. Land meets sky without horizon and disappears forever.


    It is without a doubt relevant, therefore, to talk about canvases that define for always the artist’s interior field of research. His works are the tangible reflection of his spirit and it would certainly be inappropriate to talk about fantasy in this case, that notwithstanding, poetics play a preponderant role.


    The vigor and a density are exemplary and could perturb the viewer who views these paintings for the first time. The first impression, interrogative of course, is replaced by another sensation, an incredibly fascinating sensation born out of the simplicity, a kind of secret, often sweet, modulations, but above all it is an art far from conventional schemes.


    Luc Peire began working on the pieces which he called les Graphies in 1957. He abandoned canvases to begin working on covered panels to then use Formica of a raw and austere white. The paint he used was a synthetic black with which he employed the camaïeu technique and experimented exclusively with this bicolored game by expressing an infinity of variations that ally themselves to and interplay with light. The verticals continued to evolve, moving silently through new kinds of space. Every now and then a bit of blue or grey intervene in these new compositions. It is significant to note that these original spaces offered new aesthetic possibilities that the artist investigated in unheard of and dynamic depth. 


    The painter, Luc Peire, remained anchored to this superb and sublime journey in human representation – that of homo erectus – synthesized and incarnated in verticality. He revealed his reflections, his thought with honesty and an extreme economy of aesthetic means.  Intuition dominates all his work, excluding with resolve artifice of any kind.