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La course effrénée de Phébus, 1943

oil on cardboard

Charchoune said: “I have always hated drawing, drawing and painting are, in my eyes, the greatest enemies”. La Course effrénée de Phébus is then understood as such. It is above all a canvas of explosions of color, under a warm light, creating a radiant and jovial atmosphere. This feeling is reinforced by Charchoune's touch, which applies the color in linear strokes: some of these lines intersect, clash, creating a starry pattern, giving a certain impression of dynamism to the canvas. And for good reason, here Charchoune represents the race of Phoebus (Apollo in Greece) on his solar chariot. The painter seeks to render the aura of the god, bright. But this image is somewhat surprising, the viewer could expect a radiant composition or at least linear, showing the chariot of Phoebus passing at full speed in the sky, it is nothing of the sort. In fact, the viewer has the impression of being on the chariot and seeing the earth below. In this hypothesis, the resemblance of this image with the mushroom cloud is troubling, since Charchoune painted this picture in 1943, one year before the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending the Second World War. Was this painting, painted in 1943, inspired by the contemporary events of the war, the bombings? The touches of white, yellow, and orange colors that run all along the canvas remind us of the flames and ashes of a fire.

In this painting, it is also possible to see the influence that music has on Charchoune. The composition is organized around different strokes, which each, by their color or application, form different rhythms. Like the different movements of a music, or like the different instruments of an orchestra, the color harmonizes on the canvas. Water, which is the other preponderant element in Charchouche's painting, also has its place here: applied by touch, the paint evokes reflections in the water.

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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