In 1891, Paul Sérusier went to Brittany for the first time, moving between Pont-Aven, Le Pouldu and Huelgoat. There he founded the Nabis, a group made up of young, brilliant artists such as Maurice Denis, who were passionate about esotericism, mystery and the desire to return to the roots of "primitive" art. Thus, from 1891 to 1893, Sérusier spent three summers in a row in Huelgoat, a small village in the Breton hinterland with a rich history of tales and legends. There he met Gabriela Zapolska, a young journalist, actress, novelist, literary and theatre critic who became his fiancée. From 1893 on, Paul and Gabriela stayed at the Hôtel du Pin Noir in Châteauneuf. During the following winter, Paul began to decorate Gabriela's Parisian flat. Through Promenade du dimanche (Robes noires) and Promenade du dimanche (Robes jaunes), which complemented this decor, he wanted to bring to mind the memory of the young woman on a summer Sunday in Brittany, when women would walk around after Mass in their Sunday best. His stays in the Cornouaille countryside, with its dense forests, granite rocks and steep ravines, provided him with an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Seeking to refresh his palette, due undoubtedly to his recent romantic encounter and the challenge of decorating a space, here the artist abandons the lush colours of his paintings of Le Pouldu and Pont-Aven in favour of a new range of sober, delicate colours. The subtle shades of grey and green, illuminated by yellow and ochre marks, predominate in this mysterious landscape animated by vertical tree trunks that punctuate the composition. Like the Japanese prints he so admired, the artist adopted a narrow frame, eliminating the trivial and endowing these works with a universal, timeless dimension. The woman with the bun was probably inspired by Gabrielle Zapolska, a beautiful, elegant woman, moving through this dreamlike, rural frieze. By seeking to adorn the interiors of their contemporaries, the Nabis, whose aim was to create a modern decor, often associated women with nature in their decorative friezes. The female figure, which represented a fascinating and unsettling mystery for the Symbolists, appears in the Nabis' decorative work, rooted in the era thanks to her fashionable attire, while remaining in symbiosis with nature, in a time where there seemed to be a slower pace of life.
"[Sérusier] deciphers the lines and synthesizes the harmonies, but the intellectual interpretation of nature holds true to the extent that when one is walking around Cornouaille in the autumn, one has the feeling of being in Sérusier painting. There is a constant oscillation between the natural landscape and the interior landscape that moves us with its intimate character."
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