Soutine created landscapes with his own brand of moroseness, indicated by this scenery that seems to shift across the canvas. Employing his Expressionist mode of representation, the swirling brushwork of the trees and jagged, tilting horizon convey the internal unrest felt by Soutin and foreshadow the gestural quality of the action paintings of the Abstract Expressionists. Soutine had a profound impact on artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. De Kooning's work is filled with impulsive, Céret-like moved and he openly, and incisively, acknowledged his admiration for Soutine, calling him, in 1977, his ‘favourite artist’. From 1946, with Pollock’s work becoming relentlessly abstract, art historian William Seitz propounds that Pollock pushed ‘values inherent in Van Gogh and Soutine to an ultimate conclusion’ (Esti Dunow & Maurice Tuchman, The Impact of Chaim Soutine (1893-1943), New York, 2001, p. 67).
Paysage arbreux reels under the painter’s energy and appears to rear up over the viewer. Maurice Tuchman states that ‘during the Céret period, Soutine, in his utter reliance on spontaneous execution, with its leaning toward the abstract, most fully embodied the expressionist vision… Soutine’s typical stroke is usually not a line but a fleshy patch, a section of sentient visceral matter’ (Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow & Klaus Perls, Chaim Soutine (1893-1943): Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol 1, no. 32, illustrated p. 144). The subject and colouring of this work are not far from the calm analysis of landscape undertaken by Cézanne and reflects the influence of the Cézannesque method of rigorously cropping the space surrounding his forms. It was in Céret, at the age of 26, where Soutine reached artistic maturity and established the pictorial style and expressive force that was to drive his art throughout his career.
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