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Alexandre Perrier

Le Salève, s.d.
oil and tempera on canvas
32.0 x 78.0 cm
Alongside Marcelly Peak, Uble, Roc d’Enfer and Praz-de-Lys, Mount Salève was one of Alexandre Perrier’s favourite subjects, for the artist was a great lover of mountains and tireless explorer of nature’s high remote paths. He makes use of all the possibilities that this motif offers him in a constant reinterpretation of the site throughout the seasons, each time according to a different treatment.

With its slender streaks corresponding to the different geological strata of the mountain’s evolution, Le Salève displays a mineral antiquity that borders on abstraction, given how insistently its lines are marked. Exalting the imperturbable power of its rock, Perrier likewise emphasises its graphic and decorative aspect. Painted using drawn-out brushstrokes, the linear forms of the mountain and its stylised outlines show the influence of Art Nouveau on the artist.

The horizontal mass, looming up against a bluish grey background, displays its structure of highlights and shadows, with its gentle ups and downs in an intermingling of colours that the artist achieves by layering his brushstrokes. Gripped as in a vice between heaven and earth, the mass reveals the gilded relief of an eroded mountain in a panoramic framing that clings to its descending curve. This humped aspect is echoed in the rolling fields below which rise and fall like a verdant sea. Mount Salève thus appears framed on both sides and emerging like an emblem of eternal nature.

Unlike Ferdinand Hodler when he treated the subject (La Rade de Genève et le Salève, 1878, Collection Pictet), Perrier underscores the horizontal segmentation of his motif, stretching out the oblong composition even more. Turning his back on the anecdotal and its effects, he makes the view an independent subject for painting, devoid of any urban presence, a rendering in which only the essence remains.
Alexandre Perrier, Le Salève, s.d.