Hodler et le Léman


Last week, we went to Pully, one of Lausanne’s neighbour villages, to see Swiss painter Hodler‘s work on the margins of Lac Léman.


What struck me the most about this exhibit was how the paintings of the lémanique landscape evolved over time and over the seasons. Earlier works were so much more realist: the landscape was painted with accuracy and detail. In some paintings there were people strolling along the margins and you got a realistic feeling of a Sunday afternoon on the margins on the lake.


Later on, he started to paint the landscape from several spots on the margins of the Lake. In this series, the lake is always the same (Lac Léman), but the paintings are so distinct according to their viewpoint, to the season and to the time of day. The light and shadow game in the paintings is special.

Towards the later years, Hodler was turned to symbolism and he used elements in nature to depict aspects of life. For example, the trees used to represent the human form, early on in bloom, and nude in his last years.

In the end of his life, Hodler was very sick and confined to his house in Geneva. From his balcony, he painted the views over the lake. In these last paintings, I feel like he extracted from the landscape everything that was light, emotion and movement. There are no buildings, no people, no details, just games of light and shade and layers of nature.


The exhibition was in a museum with windows looking over the Lac Léman. Because of this, you carry the feeling from the paintings with you between rooms and when you peek out the windows, it’s like you’re in a dialogue between art and reality.

It’s all very poetic.

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