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Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies

06.12.2016 |

Vera Pagava, Le rythme argenté, 1966, 18.7 x 24 © Photo : JL. Losi, all rights reserved

Three Saint-Germain-des-Prés galleries – Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Le Minotaure, and Alain Le Gaillard – have worked together on an exhibition of paintings by Vera Pagava (Tiflis 1907 – Ivry-sur-Seine 1988), a Georgia-born artist who went into exile in Paris in 1923 after the Red Army invaded her country.

Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Vera Pagava, Vue sur la ville ou ville de lumière, 1963, © All rights reserved

After studying at the School of Art and Advertising, Pagava joined André Lhote’s workshop in 1929. She then trained at the Ranson Academy in Roger Bissière’s workshop as from 1931. There she met and befriended the painters Maria Helena Vieira Da Silva, Arpad Szenes, Étienne-Martin, and Jean Le Moal. She was noticed by the gallerist Jeanne Bucher, who exhibited her works with Dora Maar’s in 1944.

Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Vera Pagava, L’Église, 1955, 27.5 x 35.5 cm, © Photo : JL. Losi, all rights reserved

Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Vera Pagava, Nature morte, 1958, 27.5 x 37 cm, © Photo : JL. Losi, all rights reserved

From her beginnings to 1960, Pagava’s work remained figurative: portraits, nudes, still lives, and most of all cityscapes, which she constructed with small cubes or coloured rectangles. This gradual stylisation of shapes would lead the artist to paint her first abstract works. This is the specific period the three galleries chose to show – a time during which abstraction was “experienced as a necessity” and “as the absolute search for the pictorial transposition of light”.

Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view of Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies at Jeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery © All Rights reserved

Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view of Vera Pagava. Celestial bodies at Jeanne Bucher Jaeger Gallery © All Rights reserved

Vast, half-tone, often tone-on-tone flat tints delineate large plain geometrical surfaces, like “celestial bodies” floating in space. These mysterious, even mystical shapes, suspended between shadow and light, generate a feeling of melancholy conducive to meditation.
A discreet figure of the Parisian post-war art scene, Vera Pagava developed a deep and highly personal work, which deserves to be rediscovered after being unfairly forgotten.

Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Le Minotaure, and Alain Le Gaillard galleries, Paris, from 18 November 2017 to 14 January 2018.

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