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Euclidian Abyss

  • Category / Instrument : 8 instruments
  • Orchestration : fl / hb / cl / bn / vib / vl / vla / vlc
  • Duration : 20'
  • Genre : contemporary
  • Sortiment : Score
  • Number of pages : 50
  • Publisher : Lemoine
  • Code : 27542
  • Published : 01/01/1996
  • ISBN / ISMN : 9790230975421


The title refers to a gouache by Barnett Newman dating from 1946-47. Rejecting the grid pattern, the fragmentation of time, and the compartmentalised spaces that constrain occidental tradition, contracting and casting it onto Mondrian's utopian grid. Geometric art, dominant since the Renaissance, reponds to an idea of closure, of definition, and indicates a secret desire for possession. The objectivism of abstract compositions belongs to the system that Newman refutes: a world made entirely of space and movement. Moreover, symbols borrowed from the exact sciences are treated as the very essence of reality. To that combinatorial vision, Newman juxtaposes quality, tensions and heterogeneity.
Euclidian Abyss is a polemic work against geometry and the sense of geometry in art. Abstraction also consists of surpassing geometrical perspective to discover a sense of depth, the primordial basis of perception from which subjective expression is released.
The works from 1946-47 can be divided into free improvisations and compositions governed by the conflict between life and geometry. For Newman, the idea of creation merges with that of growth. Images of germination provide the principle themes for his paintings from 1946 - The Word l, Pagan Void, The Beginning, Moment, The Command, Genesis-The Break -. Soil, sun, seeds, eggs, and plants are the pretext for evoking a feeling of birth, for painting the world's awakening. During this period, Newman confronted the cosmic reality that is perpetual growth, the creation of forms, and continuous outflow. At the opposite extreme, we find the domain of pure methodology, subject to the monotone development of ever-identical phenomena, and symbolised by abstract subjects of aesthetic Euclideanism.
Newman turned toward the primitive world, drawing his inspiration from works by Indians living on the northwest coast of Canada. He thus, reconciled himself with the European primitivist influences found in work by Klee or Picasso. Euclidian Abyss is associated with both the luminous plane painting developed by Rothko, Gottlieb, Reinhardt, and the dynamic art characterising the style of Pollock, Hofmann or De Kooning.
The octet alluding to Newman's canvas, and appropriating its title, somehow revives, in a purely musical realm, the problematics that the painting provoked among the plastic arts. To my mind, the aesthetic form is not the mathematical form; the critical moment of a process cannot be reduced to a schism; the genesis of forms is not comparable to occupying time. The work that I have in turn entitled Euclidian Abyss excludes contour lines, diagrams, and limited meaning. Sources and centres, mobility and transparency, unresolved contrary tensions, colourism, and the continuous dissolution of forms, comprise the piece's grammar and substance, establishing its distinctive style.
The octet explores a timeless archetype, that of falling. There are multiple images of the abyss: faintness, evasion, stumbling, terror, and vertigo. The musical form is that of a whorl, of a convolution into a helix. Expansion and contraction, coiling and uncoiling, give the work rhythm and endow it with its paradoxical structure.

Hugues Dufourt



Hugues Dufourt favours slow transformations of a seldom-interrupted musical discourse. He conceives forms through the evolution of masses and focuses on the concept of thresholds, of oscillations, of interference, and directional procedures. A pioneer of the spectral movement, he, however, gives it a more encompassing definition, [...]


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