The spell of Cezanne
January 14, 2014
I’m painting again. It feels like coming alive, or stepping into sunlight after months in a cave. I think November last year was my last painting and it stranded from lack of inspiration.
In between times.
Heavens, they are so hard to navigate. Every. Single. Time.
I’ve been creatively active with various crafts, volunteer work, writing, etc. So I’ve been ok, but underneath is that constant worry that the will to paint won’t come back, and also the longing to be immersed again, in the search, the problem solving, the bliss, the colour the vapours of oils and paints.
Eisenstein speaks of receiving a vision of one’s next step as a gift, but he also says that the ‘volition’ to follow that vision is also a gift. Yes, it is so true.
I’m under the spell of Cezanne at the moment- have visited two of his canvasses which are part of the show, Natural Beauty’, here in the Groningen Museum, and last year in Germany and England. What is it about his still lifes especially which keep inspiring artists down the years? Funny, when I am standing in front of one, it doesn’t give me the buzz I get from other favourite painters, rather it reassures me. They are so matter of fact and unassuming. This is an apple, these are a bunch of apples on a table on a cloth or in a dish. They don’t look easy, it isn’t that- they just ‘Are’, so much so they reach directly into the heart of life and into the heart of the viewer.
I’m reading about him- his work developed in a chaotic time in the 1880s when painting was being reinvented. He got drawn to the Impressionists, then he pulled back to find his own truth, and ultimately moved closer to the Symbolists- so says the book I’m reading. I don’t know enough factual art history from that period to comment further on this point.
I feel that 2014 must be as chaotic as 1880 was, as far as what art is, what it wants to be. The writer says that the chaos in art reflected what was happening in the society.That is true of these times as well. What does one paint and why, and, artists of our day have been asking themselves for decades, ‘does it really matter?’
I lost inspiration after a good long run with my Friend’s Fruit Bowls series. I had a gallery here to look at the work recently and they found some of it ‘conventional’. People often encourage me to follow my more whimsical style because it stands out more and is more unique (ie will sell better). But I’ve stood in front of a Cezanne and felt an answer to something I didn’t know I’d asked.
It is not very fashionable to keep working away on still lifes, fruit, cloths, bottles- we’ve seen all that. After I more or less finished with the fruit bowls, I was wondering what would be next, I thought I was done with that. But when I listened properly, it was, ‘More Fruit!!!!’
So I set up a still life (innocent husband reaches for a pear and is strangled) and am all fired up again. Mr Cezanne is close by, open to a spread of still lifes on the work table, I will shamelessly follow his lead, and so learn where I’m meant to go. But God, does it ever feel good to be back in the saddle again!