Paul Signac: Watercolours and ink drawings
Graphic Cabinet, Veletržní Palace
Author and curator: Zuzana Novotná
The small exhibition of watercolours and ink drawings by Paul Signac (1863-1935) commemorates the 150th anniversary of the birth of this major French painter, graphic artist and art theoretician. He co-founded (and for many years headed) the Salon of the Independents (1884), where he met Georges Seurat (1859-1891) and together formulated the ideas and theory of divisionism. Contemporary critics called their scientific approach Neo-Impressionism. Signac became a passionate advocate after rejecting instinctive Impressionism. This method was based on the scientific finding of spectral distribution - the division of colour and light and their psycho-physiological effects in the viewer's eye. This new aesthetic principle was a major contribution to the transition from tradition to modernism. In 1899, Signac explained it in his theoretical essay "From Eugène Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism", which became a contemporary manifesto influencing the emerging Fauvists Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and André Derain (1880-1954). Signac uncompromisingly promoted this approach in his work.
Aside from art, Signac loved boating; he sailed along the coast of France and in the Mediterranean every year. Ports and maritime landscapes were quite naturally added to his repertoire of subjects. He began employing watercolour and ink drawing in 1892, as they seemed the most suitable techniques for the frequent traveller. He drew hundreds of vistas of French ports and rivers. He did some as final works, while others served as studies that he later transformed into different mosaic-like works. Still lifes inspired by the compositions of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) also appeared in his work after 1918.