This exhibition is the first major show of Olivier Debré's work in the UK for 44 years, bringing together oils, works on paper and large-scale paintings.
This summer, the Estorick Collection presents an exhibition by French post-war painter Olivier Debré (1920-1999). The show has been selected by Michael Estorick, Chair of the Estorick Trustees, and son of Eric and Salome Estorick, whose renowned collection of Modern Italian Art is housed in the museum.
In 1920 Debré was one of the key representatives of lyrical abstraction, alongside Serge Poliakoff, Pierre Soulages and Nicolas de Staël. His early works, created around 1943, reflected the influence of Picasso (whom he met in 1941), but in 1945 he began to make paintings reflecting the influence of Japanese calligraphy in gouache and ink, in common with Soulages and Franz Kline. In 1960, Debré began to use intense, vivid colours which would come to define his style – a change of direction that was related in part to his encounters with painters such as Mark Rothko and Jules Olitski.
Debré’s ambition was to express the emotions he experienced in relation to natural phenomena such as storms, typhoons and rivers (particularly the Loire) using strong accents of colour over fluid, vibrant backgrounds – he characterised his work as ‘fervent abstraction’.