Solid Modern: Simon Gaiger and Genevieve Claisse | Floor 2


In curating SOLID MODERN we have chosen artists whose cardinal form stems from the Modern movements of Cubism, Di Stijl and Surrealism. Simon Gaiger from Wales and Parisian Genevieve Claisse have suitably different takes on abstraction.

Pure Abstraction, as seen here in the prints of Genevieve Claisse, is the use of solid colour without tone, shape meeting shape, never overlapping. Orbs cusp angles to create the clean-cut designs which instantly rouse the senses, causing a dopamine high – pure joy. The early abstracts of the late John Hoyland stir the chakras in a similar way.


Genevieve Claisse, now eighty two, continues to make life-lifting works. Like her forbear Matisse, she is a doyen of colour and shape. Claisse learnt the concepts of formal purity from her uncle, the abstract painter Auguste Herbin: the permutations of the circle and triangle are Genevieve’s abiding passion.


To put her in context, Claisse, in ’50’s Paris, was honing a visual language similar to the St Ives artists Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Bridget Riley’s optical abstractions are resemblant.


Biomorphic abstraction is rooted in Surrealism. The organic shapes made by sculptor Simon Gaiger echo the natural forms found in our essential nature; our anima. Surrealist art which is aesthetically close to Gaiger’s, can be seen in the works of Joan Miro, Yves Tanguy, and Alexander Calder - and closer to home, in the somatic Welsh landscape painting of Graham Sutherland.


In 1937, Henry Moore wrote: "there are universal natural shapes to which everybody is subconsciously conditioned and to which they can respond if their conscious control does not shut them off”.


Simon Gaigers sculptures are small-scale. The forms are rutty - they don't hide the labouring hand. His muse is grounded in the battered anatomy of industrial Britain - hinged iron gates, old railway lines, canal locks and victorian harbours. The beat of the hammer, the forge, the muscle, it’s all so visceral - until - painted. Zippy colours blanket the sculptures. Colour transforms by defining and illuminating. It also serves to disguise their history - to set them free.  


Gaiger charms us with his playful sensuality. Tangerine lips peek from   coital loops of turmeric yellow. A hot orange goddess struts on three legs  -  presiding over birth, growth and death. A boat with a hole, exposes a surreal tale. These modern primitives are not empty vessels as

they hold the memory of mans affect on the land we live on. The metamorphoses is incomplete.