Jean Paul Lemieux’s 1960s nudes relate to both figurative and landscape genres, but with a consciously pared-down aesthetic linked, perhaps, to the art of camaïeu. In this 1963 painting, the warm brown foliage of the bushes opens onto a clear path, with a hollow beyond, suggestive of a stream bed. A dry wash, summarily brushed across the canvas, is punctuated by a few frail tree trunks, which draw the gaze toward the silhouette of a young girl entering the frame at lower right.
The girl’s front-facing bust, her arm held slightly oblique, and head in three-quarter profile, suggest a subtle movement in the direction of the path. Just a few restrained brushstrokes are sufficient to mark her presence, and her long shadow projects out onto the path behind her. This work is a contemporary variation on the theme of the young nude female bather, caught by surprise on the edge of the sunlit path toward which she is headed. This oil is the first in a series of large nudes by Lemieux, including Le Grand nu and Nu (1966), and Nu printanier (1968), in which the figure occupies the canvas from head to toe, or from head to thigh. (A. L.)