I find myself revisiting Balthus for his work to remind myself how thoroughly composition can and should be assessed. I always discover something new, reminding me that there are no limits to refining a composition whether representational or abstract. I think it’s rather comforting knowing a work will never be fully realized. Time and experience will determine how well we do or assess.
Painting cultivated land provides a wonderful opportunity for integrating and developing rhythm in a painting and Balthus has done it beatufully in this serene farm scene. We are harmoniously guided through the landscape to the gorgeous group of buildings which Balthus adjusts to harmonize with the land. There are a number of pathways and rhythmic lines and shapes leading us to the buildings and I will guide you through a few.
Lets begin with a series of parallels which lead you towards the focus from the left of the painting. Your eye will run along the line with a little shed and you will then feel yourself gracefully moving to the buildings when you sense the rhythmic parallels below. You are also sensitively directed towards the buildings from the upper left and right of the painting. I marvel at how he supports the rhythmic movements with absolutely wonderful structure, integrating the fields with the buildings. He accomplished this with triangles which provide the primary motif of the composition.
I am very impressed with how Balthus adjusted the shapes of the buildings to harmonize with the land and discovering the reason for that small dark vertical at the bottom was a pleasure. It provides subtle structure and integrates with a leaning bush above which directs you to the buildings.
I must also the beautiful embracing arch above the large building and how it integrates with the buildings bringing us to the wonderful white shape, which is actually the focus. When you view the light areas on the buildings can you feel the pull of the tiny white shed at the left?
I will always return to appreciate and learn.