«That which interests me the most, is not still life or landscapes: it is the human figure».Henri Matisse
As a sculptor Matisse is a different master in respect to his celebrated paintings of glittering colors, blue nudes, red fish and maroon rooms. A master of color attracted by the magnetism of the soil that, when run through the fingers, could give back the form, in the power of the raw material, the volumes of a visage, the harmonic form of a lounging body in his atelier, but made absolute by the total synthesis of a pure line. The passage from naturalism from the first sculptures of the early nineteen hundreds towards the reduction to the essence of the subject, in a gradual process of abstraction, represents the heart of a novel project that demonstrates how Matisse's experimentation in sculpture had also strongly impacted his pictorial work, his papers and his canvases.
The practice of “taking” typical to sculpture, the arrival to a concentration in the power of the image, inspired also by the synthetic calling of primal cultures, had seen Matisse modify the same iconographies through time, to the point of radically draining them, ferrying the same necessity of the formal rarefaction from sculpture to drawing, from material to color. Here then the soft poses of models become geometric lines in the space. And so the series of portraits (like in the cycle of Jeannette) rapidly evolves from a physiognomic narrative to a total condensation, where the body becomes a line and the gesture becomes a trajectory in a dimension that transcends the real into the abstract.
Chiara Gatti, curator of the exhibition and director of the MAN museum