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Ecluse sur la Meuse, 1962

oil on canvas

Ecluse sur la Meuse is a landscape that Buffet painted in 1962. Although known for his portraits and interior scenes, the landscape is a genre that Buffet is particularly fond of. Here we can recognize Buffet's characteristic line, his way of framing the figures in black. In this landscape, we see a red house on the banks of a river, the Meuse, and two boats. The perspective is deep, accelerated by the black rings of the bank and the boats. This attention to perspective is regularly found in Buffet's landscapes; he emphasizes the depth of the scenes by ironing out the line and thickening the rings, so that his drawings can sometimes remind one of an architect's preparatory drawings. In this way, the viewer's gaze is guided to the background of the scene, and more precisely to the house by the water. The color of this house emphasizes the attention it receives it is a bright red, which stands out clearly against the blue-green tones that dominate the canvas thanks to the black rings. As red and green are complementary colors, the colors appear even stronger and deeper.

The painter scribbles on certain parts of the canvas, such as the foliage of the trees or the reflection of the trees in the Meuse, which breaks with the apparent peace of the scene. Some areas, especially the edges and corners of the canvas, are in reserve, i.e. they are not "finished" to be painted. In fact, the canvas seems to have been painted on the spot, in the middle of nature, and not in the studio, like the Impressionists did at the end of the 19th century.

What does this landscape represent, other than a corner of the Meuse? It gives off a feeling of solitude. It is an empty landscape, almost at a standstill, because that is the role of a lock: to hold back the water and only release it with human intervention. But here, no man is visible. The path along the river is deserted, as are the boats, which seem to be drifting. There is no sign of human presence. The wood along the river is dark, letting no light through. It appears as a wall of vegetation, blocking the horizon, perhaps hiding something. There is no emptiness in this scene, wherever you look you can see several brushstrokes, and yet there is a great silence in this painting.

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