Musée d'Orsay: Ker-Xavier Roussel Gate

Ker-Xavier Roussel

Ker-Xavier Roussel (1867-1944)
Circa 1892
H. 21.5; W. 17 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

La barrière [Gate]

After 1900, Ker-Xavier Roussel revealed himself as a master of pastel painting with his numerous mythological compositions and his highly coloured Mediterranean landscapes. On the other hand, his pastels from the 1890s are extremely original and rare. Gate is one of the more interesting examples of these. This work is in fact typical of the Nabi style which Roussel developed as a young man: an ordinary subject, an absence of perspective in the style of Japanese prints which the artist collected with a passion, contrasting values, etc.

A greyish wall, the upper part obscured by trees, occupies almost all of the space in the work. At the end of the wall, a dark green gate is fixed to a wooden post. The gate, although open, closes the space in the painting, and gives the impression of being shut. This ambivalence gives the pastel a special charm. The work, as a window opening on to the world, becomes a means of obstructing the view: first of all the gate, then the big wall, and finally the vegetation all prevent us from seeing into the distance. There is no foreground to speak of. Finally, everything is blurred in a mist of intense greys, creating yet another barrier.

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