Mildred Thompson: L’Appel de la Lumiere

Galerie Lelong & Co., Paris, France
10 May 2023 - 13 Jul 2023

Mildred Thompson, Radiation Explorations 8 (Detail), 1994.
Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

Mildred Thompson, Radiation Explorations 8 (Detail), 1994. Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

L’Appel de la Lumiere (The Call of the Light) presents paintings, assemblages, and works on paper by African American artist Mildred Thompson (1936-2003) who lived and worked in Germany and France from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. An artist who utilized a modernist visual language to interpret natural and cosmic phenomena, this exhibition celebrates Thompson’s representations of light and energy, charting early influences from her time living and working in Paris in the mid-1980s to later works created upon her return to the United States. Paying homage to the city of light that called Thompson to Paris as a mid-career artist, Thompson’s time in Paris was critical to the development of her unique visual vocabulary.

For more than five years in Paris, Thompson furthered her formal and conceptual artistic investigations. This included a remarkable ability to interpret color found in the world around her in imaginative atmospheric scapes. The exhibition takes its title from two intimately scaled 1982 collages Thompson made in Paris. The bright palettes and improvisational compositions are an indicative precursor to much of the work she created in the following two decades. l’Appel de la Lumiere features several works on paper from the artist’s time in Paris and pieces created shorty after her departure from France. Aqueous gouaches and subtle prismatic color pencil drawings demonstrate Thompson’s constant personal interpretation of the universe. Also on view in the first gallery is a piece (c. 1975) from Thompson’s renowned body of work in wood.

In the second gallery dynamic pastels, watercolors, and paintings from the 1990s and 2000s are characterized by energetic mark-marking, profound understanding of color, and complex compositions. Works from two of her significant painting series – Radiation Explorations and Advancing Impulses – are on view and demonstrate Thompson’s signature approach to abstraction. This work has received increased institutional attention in recent years as understandings of abstraction shift to become more inclusive of women artists of color.




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