Importantly, the fact that the artist chose to appear alongside the painting in several publications in the late 1950s – 1960s, is affirmation that the piece remained the focus of his admiration. As such Le Vieux Pêcher (The Old Peach Tree) stands as one of the most iconic and recognizable oil paintings within Le Pho’s oeuvre. He was part of a pioneering wave of artists that diverged from the decorative propensity of traditional crafts and helped establish a new canon of Vietnamese art. The artist’s formative training equipped him to synthesize his aesthetic into an alluring mélange of French, Vietnamese, and Chinese influences, making him highly popular both in his home country and abroad. Indispensably linked to the artist’s commercial success, Le Vieux Pêcher (The Old Peach Tree) marks the artist’s confidence in embracing avante-garde notions of form, texture and chromatism, while also staying true to his Vietnamese roots.
Poetically rendered with a striking palette, effused with rich sensations, Le Vieux Pêcher (The Old Peach Tree) is a prime example of the artist’s interpretation of Bonnard’s principles of color. The sheer ecstatic beauty of the work, shows the success of his venture - embodying Bonnard’s belief that “You reason color more than you drawing... Color has a logic as severe as form.” The vertical composition is divided into two main fields – a sky of caerulean blue and the ground that seems to rise in a sunset hue. Le Pho dispels the conventions of perspective and seems to flatten the space, transforming the overall visual effect by elevating the importance of color. Indeed the intense orange juxtaposed with a cool blue, is akin to Bonnard’s tendency to exaggerate his palette and create spatial conundrums.
A radiant depiction of a peach tree’s flowers and branches against a bold orange background, the present lot channels the essential principles of Impressionism. Le Pho captures the candid and momentary essence of nature by incorporating a light yet vivid palette, and using thick, efficient strokes of paint to render the petals of the spring blooms. A visually mesmerizing revelation of the foreign and the familiar, the painting serves as a gentle homage to Vietnamese tradition, particularly of Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New year), where the peach tree is an ornamental emblem of new beginnings that convey notions of warmth, wealth and good luck. Le Pho’s light touch and spontaneous brushwork diffuse the piece with splendour of texture and color. Flowers rendered in candied pinks and white are evocative of Monet’s waterlilies, radiating with an intensity of emotion, ultimately alluding to a sense of revitalization and nourishment.
The gentle elegance of Le Vieux Pêcher(The Old Peach Tree) captures the spirit of the artist and embodies a high level of finesse he reached in the oil painting medium. Le Pho spent the latter part of his life in France, but remained stimulated by his love for his homeland, to which art served as his strongest tangible connection. In that vein, Le Vieux Pêcher (The Old Peach Tree) is a work of timeless beauty that offers a window into the luxuriant landscapes of Le Pho’s country, underscored by a deep sense of nostalgia for his long distance motherland.
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