René Elie

CHRISTOPHER SMITH King of Hearts, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Welcome back to an exhibition mounted with the support of the Norfolk and Norwich Rouen Friendship Association.

René Elie gives a lot of pleasure with his pictures of Normandy, the attractive province round our twin city in France.

He sees his surroundings with an affectionate eye and is not afraid to play on picturesque elements.

Often a solitary figure, who is sometimes picked out in red, serves to give scale to the scene. That human touch is important, too, as a reminder of the pleasures of relaxing visits to quiet, uncrowded beauty spots.

'Entretat I' shows Elie in characteristic vein. Looked at from close to, the surface appears rough, with the paint plastered on with a palette knife, and details are no more than hinted at, in impressionist style.

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But if you stand back three of four paces, the great white cliffs take on their rugged shapes, white dots emerge as yacht sails in the distance and the whole seascape comes alive.

Rivers, too, catch Elie's eye.

'La Seine', for instance, flows serene and wide, sparkling like silver between trees that add a sense of progression as dark foliage gives way to paler leaves.

It could almost be Broadland, except for the barge whose sturdy bulk and chunky lines are an unmistakable reminder of traffic on the great French waterway.

In 'La Seine at Rouen', the city is seen only in outline, a pattern of architecture glimpsed through a luminous haze, with a touch of mystery like all Elie's pictures.

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