The studios of Luc Peire

Peire environment

In parallel with the exhibition by Walter Leblanc, SMAK is also showing work by his contemporary Luc Peire.

"My painting is not one of forms, but of rhythm and proportion, thereby creating a tension that demands contemplation. The spiritual content of a work is more important to me than its plastic surface." - Luc Peire

It will provide a selective survey, based on the various studios where he has lived and worked. He has worked in no less than 26 studios all over the world, including Mexico, Morocco, New York and various places in Europe. It need hardly be said that this variety of locations has influenced his work. He was accompanied by his wife Jenny Peire on all his peregrinations. She made a variety of notes in her diary over many years. These are being published by Ludion on the occasion of this exhibition. As a result of a consistently pursued process of increasing austerity and stylisation, Peire’s work evolved from the figurative to a highly distilled abstract-geometrical vocabulary of form. By the mid-fifties all that remained of his representation of the human body was a circle for the head and a line for the body. Curved lines became rare. With a few exceptions, diagonal straight lines disappeared in the mid-sixties. In the course of time, the rhythmically varied verticals became more or less his trade mark. It was not so much an optical effect that Peire had in mind in this rigorous verticality. It was, much more than that, based on a motivation that was primarily spiritual in nature, founded on an intense cosmic consciousness.

When he started to walk erect, man grew to a higher mental level. Peire sees the vertical line as the symbol of man’s emancipation and his reaching out to the cosmos. However, this quite emphatic, almost cliché-like reference to verticality in Peire’s work does not do justice to its complexity. Space and rhythm are at least as important features, and make the upward surging movement of the vertical lines possible. The explicit effect of suggesting space, which is found in his paintings and graphic work, results in their being integrated into architecture on numerous occasions, and also in explicitly spatial works. In this respect, his ‘Environment I’ (1966), which is in the SMAK collection and for the exhibition is on show in the entrance hall, is a milestone in his work. Peire himself said of it, ‘It is not a single link in my work, but a pole to which the chain with all its links is attached. It is the work that most explicitly portrays my endeavours.’ This exhibition brings together 40 of Peire’s paintings done between 1934 and 1993 and at the same time provides a more or less chronological survey of the various studios and the evolution of his work.

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