Casimir Reymond, undated.
Oil on jute | 116 x 81 cm
CR-49 Inventory | Casimir Reymond Foundation
Photo: François De Grandi
These female characters from the 1930s are portrayed here in an almost theatrical manner, revealing the situation of women during the inter-war period: calm pride in their work, but frequently abnegation, silence and submission. The fact that all but one of the baskets are empty also suggests a certain scarcity endured at the time, which these women faced stoically.
Each figure is juxtaposed to the others with sufficient offset to suggest the restricted depth of the space formed by this relatively compact group. The different orientations of the bodies and gazes reinforce the theatricality of the scene: it is not a sketch on the spot, but rather a silent, even secretly dramatic manifesto, whose geometrisation of forms magnifies the hieratic dimension.
One can see here a great mastery of Casimir Reymond's oil painting. No demonstrative feats of strength, nor any "tour de force", but a parsimonious use of the medium with a touch that is subject to the light.
Contrasting red emerging resolutely and serenely from the brownish background, giving life and warmth to this otherwise far from jubilant scene.
Could it be the conviction of the common good, dear to Casimir - Bella ciao, Bella ciao, Bella ciao, ciao!
Perhaps 1938: Casimir is in the middle of a sabbatical period, busy carrying out large official commissions for monumental sculptures. He will resume his activity as an art teacher at the Cantonal School of Drawing and Applied Art in Lausanne in 1945.
The geometric stylisation of the figures is reminiscent of Fernand Léger's: one can feel the cylindrical shapes and the symmetrical gradient lighting so dear to this Parisian artist, whose works Casimir undoubtedly saw during his stay in the metropolis from 1922 to 1925, and then from 1929 to 1932.
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