Ton Dubbeldam’s Paradox

Ton Dubbeldam

Ton Dubbeldam, a Dutch painter inspired by impressionist and pointillist techniques, constructs both a vast and focused landscape, which precisely inserts the observer into his captivating painting titled, Provence. While the terms “vast” and “focused” may seem to contradict in their representations of space, here they are able to work in a unified effort to draw the eye of the viewer both to the focal point of the painting’s horizon and to the landscape as a whole.

Dubbeldam places the viewer into the scene by depicting the landscape at eye level, as if the viewer herself is standing in a patch of red poppies looking off toward the horizon. Dubbeldam manages to guide the gaze and experience of the viewer from the foreground of red, through the flower patches punctuated by trees, and finally to the sun above the hills. Dubbeldam achieves this effect by guiding the observing eye with his use of light and vibrant color. The eye naturally skims over the darker areas of the painting; the foreground with its heavy and concentrated blues and greens, and the dark green of the combined tree and hill line are both areas of the painting initially observed in an instant. The eye rests on what is lightest, playing a sort of leap frog over the dark, and coming to pause for a moment on the light yellows, pinks, and blues of the distant flowers, and finally, more permanently, on the bright orb of sunlight in the high horizon. The inwardly angled, highly contrasting grass and flower patches, from blue to orange to green, form the walls of a tunnel to guide the eye to the bright yellow-orange light at the end. In all, this technique endows the painting with a magnetic focal point that is rarely seen in landscapes, which typically function to elicit awe in their vastness as an entire scene.

Ironically enough, while the experience of the observer may initially be a guided and focused one, Provence also manages to evoke appreciation and awe for the grand and seemingly limitless natural world. This vastness is conveyed as a result of a precise painting technique – highly focused, like the painting itself. The flowers of Dubbeldam’s work, painted with the pointillist technique of precise dots of color, are staggering and innumerable. After following the guided path of looking, a more holistic approach at viewing the painting allows for nature to be felt as the paradox of a vast and magnificent expanse made of innumerable complex individual points.

What do you think of this painting?