Marc Chagall

From the outset of his career, Chagall established himself as a masterful colourist, adept at harmonising and contrasting colours to make them an essential element of his work. However, it wasn’t until the latter part of his life that his use of colour truly blossomed, reaching its full radiance and richness in his art.
In “Souvenir de rencontres à Vitebsk”, Chagall has segmented colour into distinct fields, allowing the composition to overflow and transcend these boundaries, akin to Raoul Dufy’s exploration of ‘couleur-lumière’. The interplay of colour and form generates a strong sense of cyclic movement, resulting in a powerful and vibrant composition that seems endless.
In this work on paper, Chagall expertly and characteristically merges a rich array of imagery from his personal symbolic repertoire with elements from folklore. The motifs that populate this dreamlike realm carry a multitude of visual references and meanings. Rural life is portrayed through the rustic dwellings. Additionally, strong undertones of religiosity are present too, symbolised by the appearance of a church and Christ’s crucifixion in the upper-right. Chagall emphasised the significance of portraying Jesus, describing it as “an expression of the human, Jewish sadness and pain which Jesus personifies.”
Chagall explained: “The fact that I made use of cows, milkmaids, roosters and provincial Russian architecture as my source forms is because they are part of the environment from which I spring and which undoubtedly left the deepest impression on my visual memory of the experiences I have.”
(quoted in B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, p. 83)

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