Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
exact opposite. I don't take anything from Nature, I move into Nature.' 32
His La montagne of 1966 (plate 10) is typical of this approach and this
period. Here, the title is hardly necessary to identify the main subject, a
mountain face stretching from one end of the horizon line to the other
and rising in conic form near the centre to dominate the top third of the
canvas, while the bottom two-thirds appears as a network of interlock-
ing triangular shapes, far less identifiable in relation to the objective
world. This is indeed less a representation than a reconfiguration of
reality in terms of the artist's vision and technique.
Robert Bernier sees the painting as an artistic citation, an allusion to
Cézanne ( La peinture , 345), and indeed the mountain top, cut off here by
the top of the canvas, resembles the squared off summit of Cézanne's
depictions of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire near Aix-en-Provence. From
this starting point one might read the lower triangular forms as a series
of different coloured fields or even as the separate parts of the broken
facade of the Bibemus Quarry, which often figures in Cézanne's can-
vasses. The central white form thrusting upward could then be read as
the lone pine tree that Cézanne often uses as a vertical line to offset the
horizontal ones of the horizon and facade, a reading pursued by Pierre
Schneider: 'La porte ouverte à toute volée par l'arbre traînant des lam-
beaux de terre, piqué des éclats du jour … sur le seuil où plus d'un tré-
buche et se fige est le signe même du prodigieux élan qui parcourt cette
oeuvre' ( Riopelle, signes , 135; The door opened wide by the tree, pulling
along scraps of earth and pricked with splinters of daylight … on whose
threshold more than one stumbles and stops is the very sign of the pro-
digious vigour that flows through this work). Riopelle's characteristic
mosaic-like strokes 33 and the repetition of triangles might then suggest
geometric forms like those to which Cézanne reduced the surface of real-
ity on the canvas, and yet, as Schneider points out of Riopelle's art, even
the geometric figures found on certain canvases don't have the solidity
and stability usually associated with them ('Peintures,' 7-8).
Indeed, in addition to a 'geometric' reading, one might propose a
'geologic' one whereby Riopelle is depicting not only the exterior of the
mountain's form, seen from afar, but also at the same time the inner
forms of the mountain, seen from within. In essence, he has turned the
mountain inside out. In this sense, the triangular masses are akin to the
tectonic plates from which some mountains are formed, while the mo-
saic blocks suggest the accretion of rock that forms others, and the slen-
der central form might then be read as the upward thrust of volcanic
lava that characterizes yet a third type of mountain building. Indeed,
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