Sunrise at the Basin of Arcachon reveals to us the unique universe of the artist Charles Lacoste. From about 1895, his paintings are marked by a sobriety, which allows him to concentrate on the essentials. With a great economy of means, Lacoste transcribes a vision of the sky and the sea – created by order and proportion. Not a single detail permits the viewer to locate the basin of Arcachon – the location only becomes known thanks to the inscription on the canvas.
Such pure paintings without any trace of human life are extremely rare in the œuvre of the artist. In this painting, the horizon is not disturbed by a single ship. The boundlessness and the floating atmosphere is almost unseizable and surreal.
As painter of remarkable atmospheres, Charles Lacoste tried to conserve the ephemeral character of certain times of a day, such as sunrise, twilight and a clear night. He also endeavoured to capture the haunting atmosphere of certain meteorological effects, especially haze and mist. In Sunrise at the Basin of Arcachon he gives privilege to the effect of the dawn, the sky and the sea – suggested by the subtle nuances of the blue and slate grey masses and orange rose tones.
In his presentation of this seascape, Lacoste trespasses the conventional marine painting and achieves abstraction. The painting anticipates the pure abstract paintings of Mark Rothko – who saturated his canvases and moderated the contours of disposed frontally rectangular forms, by orchestrating the modulation of coloured immaterial light.
In the same manner, Lacoste – who is also able to set spacious coloured forms together, aspires to immerse the viewer into the canvas. He is able to accord a spiritual and poetic dimension to his work.