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Piet Mondrian completed a number of different depictions of a lighthouse in Westkapelle over the period of several years. He would return several times and capture this architecture within a variety of different conditions, allowing him to alternate his palette each time.
Of the four different versions that we are aware of, the painting featured here is the only one to have included clouds in a prominent manner. One can see a strong contrast between the architecture and the nature that surrounds it, where as in other interpretations there is more of a synergy between the two. The lighthouse itself is outlined with a strong tone of blue which is abrupt and unforgiving. It continues along the horizon which is close to the bottom of the painting, at the foot of the building. Aside from that the lighthouse features tones of reddish-brown and the overall style is expressionist, with very little detail included. The strokes of paint are long and simple as the artist provides an approximation of what he can see, rather than a photo realistic reproduction. This approach was popular from the 1850s onwards, starting with the Impressionists, where more emotion would start to be used by artists.
Mondrian creates a tile effect within the upper half of the sky with clouds which cover most of that part of the painting but have small gaps between each other to create this mosaic effect. It allows the entire work to be brighter and delivers a strong contrast between the light behind this relatively dark construction which juts up from the land below. Mondrian chooses to keep the entire lighthouse within the boundaries of his painting where as in other versions it might just sneak out from the top. His concern was purely the lighthouse itself, leaving very little detail elsewhere where as most other artists would have re-positioned the horizon and perhaps included detail from items positioned around the foot of the building, bringing in a sense of perspective and size to the piece. Mondrian was therefore reducing the lighthouse to an abstract shape, devoid of any connection to its location and role.
There are currently three lighthouses in Westkapelle, two of which are still entirely in use today. The city can be found within Veere on the island of Walcheren in a region which is known collectively as Zeeland. It is the most quiet and remote part of the country and offers something very different to the more populous regions elsewhere. One can imagine Mondrian coming here to enjoy nature but also to truly let his mind relax and wander, without busier environments distracting or stressing his mind. Followers of his career can still visit today and see some of the locations ftom his work still pretty much unchanged over a century later.
Other Paintings of the Lighthouse at Westkapelle by Piet Mondrian