Gallery Audio Tour

Grayslake Campus: A-Wing

Didier Nolet

Chicago Botanic Garden | 2004.28 Pa

Audio Tour

In this audio clip the narrator describes Nolet's piece.
Length: 0:3:32 (three minutes and thirty-two seconds)

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About the Piece

Chicago Botanic Garden, 2003
Oil on canvas
Number: 2004.28 Pa
Exhibited at CLC: Didier Nolet: Spirit of the Land, 2004

Narration Text

Didier Nolet refers to his landscapes as icons of his moods (Nolet). More than depicting specific landscapes, Nolet’s paintings are about landscape. They seem to invoke combined and layered memories of place, time, and mood. His work reflects a blending of vision between his childhood memories in France where he grew up and his life in the U.S. since the mid-1980s. Los Angeles critic, Peter Frank, states, “Nolet does not conjure specific locales, but evokes the conditions of experiencing such places (Frank, p. 3).” We can readily agree with Frank’s statement in studying this painting; Nolet captures gentle breeze, calm waters, soft grasses, afternoon light. Although many of his landscapes are not actual places, but rather recollections of those places, this piece is indeed a familiar place: the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was painted onsite and actually references a specific spot. Our line of sight is drawn into the distance where we spot the landmark carillon bell tower on Evening Island.

This narrow, horizontal composition provides the format for the study of the effects of light on color. Fully-lit yellow-greens turn to dense muted shades of blue-green in the middle ground and fade to tints of the same in the background. The sky shifts from blue violet to a pale tint at the horizon, and likewise, the lake transitions from a deep cool blue violet to a warmed tint at the shoreline.

Scale plays a significant part in understanding this landscape. The painting is framed by two stands of trees, left and right, with a large expanse of lake between. Though it is stretched horizontally, the distance from foreground to background is even more pronounced. One observes that there must be a good distance between the foreground grasses to that middle ground stand of trees. A surprising comparison is made between the scale of Queen Anne’s lace in the foreground and the carillon in the background. Of course, another way of achieving distance, although not as dramatically, is through what we call atmospheric perspective. Color is vivid and objects are in sharp focus in the foreground, while background colors and objects appear hazy and muted.

Like so many of his artistic predecessors, Didier Nolet finds a special niche in interpreting landscape…choosing to do so by engaging all our senses, and yes, by inviting memories of our own favorite places into the scene.

Written by Jane Ellefson, Gallery Preparator, Robert T. Wright Gallery, College of Lake County

Works cited
Frank, Peter. Didier Nolet: Spirit of the Land. Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL, 2004.

Nolet, Didier. Artist’s statement. Didier Nolet: Spirit of the Land. Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL, 2004.