This constellation is triggered by Cézanne’s The Gardener Vallier c. 1906, a portrait of Cézanne’s gardener and odd-job man at his home near Aix-en-Provence, and one of the artist’s final paintings. The work follows Cézanne’s method of capturing the exact shade, tone and luminosity of each element, in distinct but overlapping brushstrokes. Cézanne’s ability to assemble his disconnected planes into a single, unified composition had a very significant influence on the development of cubism.
The works in the wider constellation expand on Cézanne’s investigation of perception and perspective. The use of energetic brushstrokes and rich, vivid colours in this group of works evokes the immediacy of light and surface, as well as the artist’s personal experience of reality. From Gaudier-Brzeska’s animated and incredibly intimate portrait of Sophie Brzeska, to the bourgeois interior captured by Duncan Grant, where light plays fancifully on the objects of the mantelpiece, elements are captured, fragmented and represented through the private perspective of their painter.
Cézanne said of human experience: ‘we live in a rainbow of chaos’, however it is a chaos that we wish to capture, cultivate and control. The scenes in these works are composed and curated, yet all the elements captured by the artists have an air of life, of nature and of subtle disobedience bubbling beneath their painterly surface. Take Hodgkin’s garden, for instance, in which flowers spill onto and seemingly beyond his frame; whilst Balla’s abstract landscape and Bonnard’s window view speak of humankind’s pervasive and intrusive presence in the natural world. Central to many of these works is the image of the well-kept, yet inherently wild garden. This is mirrored in the way these works are displayed as a forest of free standing paintings, to be explored and experienced from every angle as you wander around the space.