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Alice Bailly

Au-delà de la vallée radieuse, 1918
gouache on paper
74.5 x 55.5 cm
Alice Bailly’s whole magical, dreamlike world is distilled in her 1918 gouache, Au-delà de la vallée radieuse (Beyond the Radiant Valley). Since the start of the First World War, the artist had been forced to give up her life in Paris and live in Switzerland.

Executed on an ochre paper that imparts greater luminosity to the composition’s greens and blues, this gouache dates from a stay Bailly made in Riederalp, not far from Brig, where she had been invited by the famous Swiss-German patron of the arts Werner Reinhart (1884-1951). Whilst the fragmentation of the forms is indeed representative of the influence exercised by the Parisian cubists, the geometrisation deployed by the artist herself doesn’t force these shapes into any sort of stasis. Bailly’s painting is characterised by a lyrical energy that is all her own. A certain rhythm sweeps up the composition’s different elements in a colourful musicality that brings to mind the artist’s second passion, music. Be it her pictorial experiments or her portraits of musicians, the world of music does frequently surface in Bailly’s art.

The writer René-Louis Piachaud put it this way in 1938, a few days after the artist’s death : “Composition is often unexpected, always harmonious. Like a musician sensitive to eloquent phrasing, Bailly had a talent for finding in the visible rhythms she quickly sketched out on her stretched canvas the disciplined flow of her inner dream. It is indeed the song of a soul touched by poetry that finds expression here – visual expression – in the play of arabesques and in the undulation of the assembled colours: those sea-water greens, warm pinks, clear blues are completely bathed in a spiritual substance.”
Alice Bailly, Au-delà de la vallée radieuse, 1918