Dado, untitled, circa 1958, wash drawing on paper, 74 x 54 cm
This untitled Dado drawing was probably done in 1958, two years after his arrival in France.
Two major encounters made the year 1958 a turning point in his life and his work: with Daniel Cordier who ensured for him a life in France and the recognition of his work, and the meeting with Bernard Réquichot, who became a sincere friend, and helped him extend the depth of his pictorial vocabulary.
A delicate red line, often hardly visible and yet very precise, reveals a baby doll about three months old lying on its back. Its big head is attached to its shoulders without a neck.
Its eyes are wide open and seem to look at you as if inviting you to play. The cute little nose cracks you up. The chubby little arms are stretched out towards you as if they want to touch you. The feet, with little round toes complete the painting tenderly.
This baby imposes its colossal size in an empty space which seems infinite.
Dado strengthens this new pictorial language by zoom effects on certain body parts like the ears, which are too big, or the hands and the mouth, that are particularly small.
A sentiment of tenderness emanates very strongly from these very realistic deformities. They bring a very lively sentiment to this baby that we would very much like to see in a cradle.
Then, in the center of the painting, your eye is attracted to an explosion of color that varies between the transparency of the red washing and the opacity of a washing that becomes black. The bushy, hair-like lines surround it all cutting into this innocent space, bringing a dynamic element of evil.
A virtuoso at drawing and a remarkable colorist, Dado uses a refined and precious palette “unable to stop himself from always finding a pretext for calamitous images and scenes”.*
“I hurt my paintings. I destroy them. I make incisions…Each painting is a murder” said Dado, as if he was particularly enthralled by ugly, awkward, monstrous things that good taste would avoid.
But why, here, before this drawing don’t we turn away?
There is another reading to this drawing, childlike and burlesque. A humorous, laughable reading that obliges us with the sensitivity of a child, to see all at once the horror and the wonder, the tenderness and the somewhat scatological effects that never frightened the artist.
* Isabelle Monod-Fontaine: Donation Daniel Cordier, ed. Pompidou Center