BC069

Bry-sur-Marne, Orchard

Landscape. Red brown vertical form, right of centre. Diagonal form from the bottom left of the vertical element, abraded and worked at. Oval pool of pale pink/white to left. Wavy shape of similar pale colours, between the vertical and scratched diagonal, which extends to upper margin of canvas. Blurred diagonal, lower right corner.

Other title(s)
Orchard, Bry-sur-Marne
Date
1965
Object type
painting
Medium and materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
270x350mm
Place Made
Bry-sur-Marne, France
Inscriptions

LL ochre brush point F Scales

Verso UR pencil (not in artist's hand) Bry-sur-Marne, Orchard

Details
Provenance

Donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand by H. F. V. Scales, 1979

Copyright Licence
Courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Reference no. G-336
Current Collection

Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand

Current Location

Wellington, New Zealand

General notes

Title and date supplied by artist at time of donation, 1979.

Alternative title, Orchard, Bry-sur-Marne, taken from the exhibition Flora Scales at The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, Nelson, New Zealand, 2018, and Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand documentation.

Bry-sur-Marne is a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France, 12.6 km from the city centre. In 1953, when Boris and Christiane Kalachnikoff built their house in Bry-sur-Marne, the population was approximately 6,660 and the town still retained its rural character.

The central V-shape of the forked tree trunk is reminiscent of the ship's rigging seen in Scales's work of the 1920s [Shipping, Wellington Harbour] [BC128]]. It also brings to mind the agaves of the 1930s [Untitled [Mediterranean Scene] 1 [BC016]] and the derricks of the 1950s [Untitled [Mousehole Cornwall 2] [BC029]], in which this shape becomes a tool for her construction of dynamic pictorial space.

In the 1930s, the use of a V-shape as a spatial tool appeared in Scales’s work. In the 1920s Scales often painted yachts and ships and it seems she may have recognised the potential of the V-shape made by their riggings and masts and later began to incorporate the form into the vocabulary of her Modernist work following Hans Hofmann's instruction to do away with single-point perspective.

The V-shapes of the agaves, derricks and cranes, flowers, and forked orchard trees, that are such significant elements in her work during and after the 1930s, literally turn the idea of a vanishing point upside-down to suggest a space extending outwards towards the vertical edges of the canvas.

As well as the equilibrium established by the balanced vanes of the V-shape, there is also an immanent sense of movement. Hofmann said, "We have to experience the object as vital in her existence in space" (Dickey, Tina, Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann, Trillistar Books, Canada, 2011, pg 27). Hofmann explained that volumes revolve on their axes to create a sense of movement and counter-movement, which animates and gives depth to the flat surface of the picture plane.

Scales's use and manipulation of the V-shape is one of several examples in her work which demonstrate the way she assimilated, and made her own, the teachings of Hans Hofmann. This example in particular shows her personal interpretation, without imitation, of his theories about the creation of plastic space, which were crucial to the development of her modernism.

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