Advanced search
Porta Dolente

Porta Dolente, 1988

Judith Reigl
  • Artist (1923)

Born in 1923 in Kapuver in Hungary, the painter Judit Reigl studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest (1941-46), and travelled to Italy, before clandestinely fleeing from communist Hungary, in 1950, to Paris. There she met Simon Hontaï and Pierre and Véra Szekely who would organize her first commission for her, a mural painting for a building which is no longer there today. She settled in Marcoussis in 1963, where she has lived and worked ever since. Her early abstract dreamlike works (1951-54) attracted the attention of André Breton. Reigl then drew close to the group of Surrealists and the procedure of automatic writing, in which, however, she looked for an “absolute automatism, at once psychic and physical”. She then pushed the procedure to the maximum limit of impulses experienced and conveyed them in abstract canvases which became the receptacle for a paste thrown violently at them. Her encounter with Action Painting and with the art of the Far East in 1955 led her to canvases where the forms and the traces of gestures explode throughout the pictorial space (1955-58), canvases which the artist devised in the form of series. The powerful contrast, the strength of the black, and the dynamism of the gesture made way, in 1958-65, to a pictorial surface that was more monochrome and thicker, worked in layers (Guano series). Laid on the floor, botched canvases were then worked and trampled upon haphazardly through dripping and squashing paint. The series of Hommes (1966-72) this time brought in the truncated human figure (she painted torsos) and gave a more symbolic meaning to signs. Then it was the artist’s own body which was called upon as a tool: against a musical background, to the rhythm of her steps, the artist traced a line of colour along an unstretched vertical canvas (Déroulement, 1973-80). Through the interplay of frames within the frame conjuring up doors and windows, the series Entrée-sortie (1986-88) reverted, for its part, to a questioning of the picture. The human figure reappeared with the same power in the series Hors (1993-99), and then in Corps sans prix (1999-2001) and New York, 11 septembre 2001. Judit Reigl’s oeuvre, seeking the human figure and the material nature of painting, has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world. In 2010, the Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes held her first major retrospective in France.

Nadine Labedade