22 May 2014

Matisse, Elderly People and a Haze of Coloured Paint.

The Matisse Cut Outs exhibition has now arrived in London. However why is it so expensive for a ticket? If Matisse cut his artwork in half, he should at least cut the ticket price in half.

I really hate it when people refer to artwork like this as 'shit I could draw', because to me that's an uneducated opinion. For me the most relevant part of someone's artwork is not the art itself but the context it lived in; for Matisse it was the invention of the camera.

Now imagine you are in a world where you can't take a selfie, or photograph using your iphone. The wonderful moments in life you have to enjoy without that Kodak Moment. How would you describe it to others? However one day someone brings a camera along, a weird device which captures what the human eye can see. With this device there is no need to paint realistic paintings; the camera can document the world for you. How do you feel?

This is most likely what Matisse felt; he was free to paint and capture a surreal world that we can only imagine living in. His paintings could capture vibrants colours which the camera could not. He could go beyond the camera by displaying emotion and movement through different colours. Just think, if you were in his situation what would you paint?

I wrote an article about Matisse and the celebration of colour for Juicebox magazine, however it never got published so here is a shorten version for the online world to enjoy.

Who would of thought that weaving your way in and out of elderly art enthusiasts would lead me to imagine myself running through an electric cloud of coloured paint?

This month the Tate Modern is engulfed by an array of colour. Matisse’s late work towers the walls and it is hard to miss the overwhelming colour that fills the gallery. No wonder you have to make your way through a sea of people.

Wondering through the crowds and into a room deep within the exhibition I found one of Matisse’s more famous works that caught my eye, the captivating Blue Nudes. A series of four female figures cut out of paper stand out from amongst the crowd. Even though blue is associated with sadness the figures convey happiness, elegance and beauty. The third portrait is intriguing, the female is leaning back while seated crossed legs, and she looks relaxed and filled with pleasure. Matisse is known for his enjoyment in life. Her large thighs and full figure reflects an image the majority of us have. Looking around the room I can see it connecting with many others.

Unpublished Editorial from Juicebox

The Blue Nudes are just one example of the depth and enjoyment Matisse’s work brings to the Tate. The bright colours catch people’s attention; “The brighter the colour, the happier you are”, he enjoyed pleasing people. It is simply a celebration of life through colour.

What more do you need to celebrate life? Do you need a good old pint or shot of tequila? What about Music? Listening to the mumbling of crowds of people it doesn’t really sound to much like a celebration to me however moving through to another room we learn how colour and music join to gather to touch all our senses. A series of costumes and scenery made in 1937 for a ballet performed to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony #1. The music is hypothetical, however the movement of the dancers is caught in the flow of colour creates a sense of music, a bit like our modern day interruption of the Indian Holi Festival. Holi is a celebration of 'good defeats the bad' based on the story of Hiranyakashyap, the demon princess. It is meant to cleanse your soul and represent freedom from bad relationships. During Holi everyone is seen as equal.

I wondered if he ever travelled to India and saw the vibrant colour used in fabrics and dyes there. Would Matisse’s paintings and cut outs be different if he saw the celebrations they have in India?
We are fortunate enough to have in London this summer a traditional Indian festival, Holi Festival taking part adjacent to Matisse’s exhibition. The festival is an explosion of powdered paint and colour; the atmosphere has an electric feel, a feeling reflected in Matisse paintings. It is two events that link two cultures together.

In my own mind I can imagine the Tate being filled with a cloud of powered paint, explosions of colour everywhere, with people running through throwing faith and freedom in the air, in amongst glances of Matisse’s red and blue figures draped on the wall. For me this would make a great film.


Images from: www.lexpress.fr, tate.org, wikipaintings.org, heliconmagazine.co.uk, angryarabscommentsection.blogspot.co.uk, ovjulianna.nl and daviddanielsphotography.com.


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