cezanne2cezanne“Painting from nature is not a matter of copying the subject but of expressing one’s feelings.” Cezanne

After a mad morning I finally made it to the Cézanne exhibition and as I walked in, I breathed a sigh as calmness descended. I love Cézanne’s work – the way he worked fast creating an impressing of a landscape without becoming bogged down in the detail. I feel as if he was enjoying the process of creating and not aiming at an end product.

There were a number of his sketches which are rough and use a mixture of watercolour and graphite. There are vertical pencil lines to suggest the trees while the leaves are in soft watercolours of blues, greens and purple which are calming and delight the eye. They are certainly not overworked and in their unfinished state the white spaces are just as important as the filled areas. It is as if he captured the gist of a view and then moved on. My favourite oil painting was Mont Sainte-Victoire (1904-06) and it was amazing to finally see it because in my final school year we had to study a post-impressionist in detail and then create a work in the style of the artist. I chose Cézanne and then in the spirit of the post-impressionists, I set myself with an easel and oils in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (Cape Town) and painted the view of the mountain. One of the things that struck me was how quickly and easy it was to paint with flat brushstrokes and yet challenging to fill the area without it becoming too two-dimensional.

In the painting Mont Sainte-Victoire I could see how loose his style was with the gleaming paint suggesting flickering light through the clouds. As Cézanne’s work became less descriptive it become more abstract and he began to simplify his shapes into basic squares, rectangles and cubes hence he is often known as the father of Cubism. I wanted to buy the postcard of the painting but it looked so dull after seeing the real thing that I didn’t bother – I think I will just visit again with my children in tow.

The exhibition is at the Ashmolean in Oxford until the 22 June 2014 and is well worth visiting.

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley
February – Oxford School of Photography

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