Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hendrik Chabot, Rain

Hendrik Chabot, Rain, 1933

Hendrik Chabot (1894-1949) was a Dutch painter and sculptor.  He lived and studied in Rotterdam, and as a young man he began his career in art as a restorer.  He spent a few years traveling around Germany and Austria, where the many museums he visited had a significant impact on him and his work.  When Chabot worked in figure painting and portraits, he demonstrates a clear modernism, such as his self-portrait, with angular forms and large brushstrokes.  However his landscapes and exteriors suggest a more complex relationship to the styles of his day.  He has a striking depiction of Rotterdam burning and a minimal winter scene evokes the snows of the Netherlands quite successfully.  In these paintings Chabot synthesizes many styles and approaches.  Rain is largely a combination of Impressionism and German Expressionism.  Much of his brushwork and use of light is reminiscent of Impressionism, but the scene itself is more complex.  Expressionism is known for its use of subjective views to convey the feelings of the painter, and the more I look at Rain the less realistic it seems.  It is an established technique to show similarities in depictions of the sky and sea, but Chabot's roiling sky does not merely reflect the waves.  The clouds take on the appearance of the water to such a degree that it becomes easy to lose our grounding and stability.  The sky no longer looks like a sky, but a second ocean. Furthermore, the sky is named after the rain, not the waves or clouds, but there is no discernible rain falling.  Instead, Chabot depicts a sky so saturated with water that the entire thing has become the rain.  The approach is intense and effective, for the painting is gripping and chaotic in the fierce motion of the sky, successfully portrayed with the use of such varied shades of blue applied with such diverse and deliberate brushwork.

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