Saturday, September 8, 2012

Boy with Bread by Ozias Leduc

Boy with Bread, by Ozias Leduc, is disarmingly simple. Its painted with a pretty restricted palette and its subject matter is quite basic.  We see a chair, a boy, a table, a bowl, a spoon and some broken bread.  It's so basic that its easy to assume that it presents a cameo from an externally, simple world.  The boy is barefooted and his clothing is unfashionable  and this suggests that he may be a country boy.  It seems that the more simple a painting is, the more we are invited to paint our conclusions into it to fill the void.

There's an interesting geometric arrangement of lines and angles firing off each other here and the line of sight works its way up the boy's leg to his elbow and up his arm to his hand. And beyond that the geometric patterns are picked up in the boy's shirt.

Asceticism makes a lifestyle statement. The world within this painting is stripped of material distractions. Taking it a step further, there's a monastic quality about it.  If the camera's lens were to be moved upward, I could easily imagine a Catholic Cross fixed to the wall.

 Is Leduc making a philosophical life statement? Is he saying that this boy's life and surrounding world  is carefully and tightly organized?  Are the straight lines and angles representative of a system of human thought and organization? Possibly. Is he saying  that this simple controlled environment is in harmony with rural Catholic life?  Its your call, but it seems that way to me.

The work is no. 15793, in the National Gallery of Canada collection.
Please click here.

Canadian, 1864 - 1955
oil on canvas
50.7 x 55.7 cm
Purchased 1969
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15793)

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