Saturday, 26 November 2011

5) monet's waterlillies


As he lost his sight, nothing is lost…

It is happening again. I am standing in front of a painting, a magnificent one, that I have only seen in a book before, and absorbed in the smell of colour, light and shade. In these purpose-built rooms, Monet’s six curved water lily paintings wrap around one’s senses.

I am struck again at his choices: what he leaves out. The children love the paintings where one can identify bridges and clumps of lilies. I am agog at the depth of abstraction in the ones in which one can identify no such thing.—and again, in a very rich knowing, a flooding kind of knowing, seeing again and again, in so many paintings, face to face, how essentially abstract they all are [well, the good ones]

Rembrandt’s hands too, in the Louvre: no matter how much detail, how ‘realist’ the portrait, one finds, in such exquisite moments, a slash of colour, loose, so loose, where the detail of a hand should be. So much is about colour, light, perception. I have never had a problem with abstraction, have always felt its truths; here in Paris I have my first realisation that Abstraction did not begin in the 20thcentury: it has always been.

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