By Ellen Turner Hall

If you like big colourful abstract paintings, Alain Clément’s new show
at the museum of modern art in Céret is for you! Alain Clément takes us on a Mediterranean voyage in three parts from Tuscany to Tangiers to Céret, transforming what he finds along the way into paintings and sculptures of arresting simplicity.

Alain Clément, Ceret Musée d'art.

Of particular interest is the dialogue between the realistic drawings in his sketchbooks – presented in slide shows around the exhibition – and the resulting abstract art works.

In the Tuscany section we find Clément’s initial sketches of cafés, narrow streets and picturesque hills and see how they are abstracted into angular, interlocking blocks of colour on canvas. None of the paintings or sculptures carry a message or even a title, yet you can see the influence of the Madonna sketches in his figures of women, the suggestion of birdcages in his airy suspended constructions of painted steel.

Alain Clément, Ceret Musée d'art.

The Tangiers part of the journey introduces flowing arabesques. Testing the very limit of flexibility and balance, swooping lines of paint wash the canvas in great loops of colour reminiscent of Matisse’s collages of dancing women. Created with the same basic gesture as handwriting, the arabesques often resemble letters whose message remains a teasing mystery.

Alain Clément, Ceret Musée d'art.

In the last room we discover Clément’s latest experiments in sculpture, combining ribbons of steel and large round stones from the bed of the River Tech. His sketches show that his initial idea was to drape a woman’s body over a boulder, playing on the contrasting states of hard and soft, rigid and pliant. The end result is pure movement captured in steel and stone.

At the end of your visit, especially if you are with children, take advantage of the museum’s workshop space provided with an array of art materials, books and all sorts of construction blocks. Let yourself be inspired by Clément’s playful themes and variations to embark on a voyage of your own.

The show runs from 11 February to 14 May. For further details

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