Constant Permeke - The Great Seascape
Constant Permeke’s artworks convey how simple people lived their everyday lives in relation to nature. Permeke observed the people around him: the fishermen in Ostend and the farmers in the environs of Ghent and Jabbeke. He particularly wanted to express the hard and dark aspects of their poverty-stricken lives and the cosmic connection between man and landscape. Permeke opted for an expressive style, with broad, thick layers of paint, loose brushstrokes, monumental figures and few details. His palette was sombre and included earthy tones of brown, ochre and black, with occasional touches of fiery red or clear blue. Permeke made numerous sketches in Jabbeke and the surrounding villages which he elaborated into large landscapes on canvas once back in the studio. Inspired by peasant life, he also drew larger than life size figures in charcoal and pastel chalk.
Permeke had a lifelong fascination with the sea. In the mid-1920s, he painted dozens of seascapes that initially included a beach, dunes or a breakwater. Later works are devoid of these elements and the entire canvas is filled with the moving expanse of water. He saw the sea – sometimes calm, sometimes stormy – as a mirror of the soul and as a means of expressing his emotions. He purchased a boat, which he christened ‘De Zeeuw’, and sailed it on the open sea and along the canals and waterways of Flanders and the Netherlands. It provided inspiration for numerous seascapes. The almost abstract panoramic painting ‘Great Seascape’ from 1935 was hidden behind a wall of Permeke’s sculpture studio for a number of years in order to make way for contemporary art exhibitions. As part of this collection presentation, this impressive gem will be unveiled once again.