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most complete thematic and stylistic equivalent of Angéline de Montbrun . 27
In this painting, nature, in the form of the twisted trees and brush in the
middle ground, resists culture, represented by the fences and fields sur-
rounding it. If we enter the picture space through the diagonal lines of
the fence in the lower left corner, it leads us immediately to the mutilated
tree in the foreground, whose splintered shaft bears witness to the force
of nature, whether through an accident like a lighting strike or high
winds, or simply by the passage of time. 28 It reaches upward, however,
into the blue cloud and towards the sunlit sky, which seem to transcend
the nature/culture division with their suggestion of spirituality, re-
inforced by the luminosity, the high horizon line, and the vertical block-
ing of the canvas. Indeed, Beaudry notes of the painting that 'the direction
of the reading is vertical, evoking the transition towards a certain spiritu-
ality' ( Ozias Leduc: Les paysages , 24), but, linking the tree's state to that of
mankind, she sees this spirituality as unattainable: 'In Blue Cumulus , two
forms are contrasted - the broken, blasted tree and the cloud. Spiritual
fervour is represented by the damaged tree. Man is face to face with God.
Everything points to his desire to become one with Him, including the
branches and roughened trunk of the tree, from which a point rises up to
touch the pictorial area defined by the sky … But Man's flawed state
prevents him from doing so. The dark mass of the cumulus, symbolizing
the link between the earthly and the divine, drives away all hope: the
cloud obscures the heavenly light' (23-4). In a detailed review article
Arlene Gehmacher points out inconsistencies in Beaudry's reading of
Leduc's symbolism, particularly in the meaning attributed to the cloud:
'She uses this interpretation of the “universal” cloud to justify the spirit-
ual interpretation that the painting refers to man's desire to attain God.
But then she makes this same cloud do double duty as a particularized
cloud, massive and opaque, obscuring the heavenly light and leading to
[a] quite different spiritual interpretation' ('Les paysages,' 194). Both crit-
ics are in agreement, however, concerning the spirituality inherent in Le
Cumulus bleu , which provides a striking analogy to and perspective on
Angéline de Montbrun .
As singular as was his art, Ozias Leduc is, according to Esther
Trépanier, most easily read as a symbolist: 'La lecture parfois ambiguë
de l'espace, qui découle notamment des effets de concavité / convexité
… les textures variées à l'intérieur d'une même surface, la stylisation,
souvent décorative, des motifs végétaux, l'arabesque utilisée dans le
rendu des sapins, des collines, des coulées de neige ou de la fumée sont
autant d'éléments qui, d'un point de vue formel, rattachent Leduc à
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