Cézanne’s “plein air” was a consequence of the itinerary previously indicated by another leading figure in universal painting, Coubert. Because his way of living and working were his vital resource, and his art of painting was like his way of breathing. The air he breathed every day. In “The Encounter” (Bonjuor Monsieur Coubert, 1854, Musée Fabre, Montpellier), Coubert posits himself as a pioneer in the art of the “plain air” painting. This, together with the influence of Pisarro, must have left its mark on Cezanne’s incipient art. His leitmotif in view of his immense oeuvre as a landscape painter.
The beginnings of the “plein air”
And my leitmotiv is to pursue the teachers who taught me to look “in colour”. Overlaying the linear and black and white vision that the drawing masters of the academy imposed on me with very good intentions, in order to sharpen my observation. But these colourist masters, who imbibed the “plein air”, from those of the Barbizon School, Corot, Pisarro, and many others, and even Cézanne, awakened me to painting in the open air. The so-called “plein air”, landscape painting inspired by the “air of Velazquez”, to discover such a natural and “atmospheric” combination of colours as had never before been represented in painting.
As we can see in The Red Rock (Trees and Rocks, 1900) Musées Nationaux (Walter-Guillaume), the light radiating from Cézanne’s work is polarised. Yet it still displays a natural realism in keeping with the setting and the time when the painting was executed.
In a previous publication (Mountains in L’Atelier de Santi) I expressed my amazement and admiration for Cézanne’s landscapes. For his colourism, of course, together with the way he constructed his paintings. For this reason, in this new publication I would like to focus on something also very original in Cézanne, the framing of his compositions.
The “plein air” and a new frame
Coinciding with the development of photography and the emergence of cinematographic art, his compositions are an invitation to travelings, or panoramic tours in the vision of his paintings. And also to zooms, crossing the different chromatic planes with which he constructs the compositions in his landscapes. And this is the result of the experience of painting from nature and in the open air. How the landscape artist, imbued with the real environment in which he is painting, image and sound, manages to transmit from his senses, and through his talent and craft, luminous effects of astonishing naturalism.
As in Farmyard, (1879-82) Paris Louvre, where two blocks in the foreground force the viewer to travel vertically. This visual journey is enlivened by the agile green brushstrokes on the ground directed towards the vertical trees. In turn, the trees, in contrast, reach the background of the sky in the background.
Cézanne’s landscapes are a plot inspired by observation in person. Landscapes to which the master used to repeat his visits during the creation of his works. He would come to them with questions to be answered in a conversation with the natural model, in a discourse of painting that he conveyed on his supports.
When I look at my latest works made in the countryside, and the “plein air”, I feel indebted to the art of Cézanne. From his way of understanding art, and identified with his lietmotiv, but without being able to detach myself from my realist DNA.