Saturday, July 24, 2010

woman before an aquarium

("woman before an aquarium" by henri matisse, 1923)
This painting was finished the year my Grampa was born.
Last week, I finished reading Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime by Patricia Hampl.
I've been reading books from the stack next to my bed. This stack contains about 9 paperbacks purchased from the Brookline Booksmith bargain table or the basement of the Harvard Bookstore. I read the backs while I'm in the store, hope someday I'll have time to read them, and, since they're only $3.99, usually end up getting at least two.
When I began the book, I didn't realize it was a memoir. It ended up thrilling me even more when I realized that's what it was, but I'm a reader who loves her memoirs.
This account of Patricia Hempl's relationship with one specific Matisse painting (the one pictured above) so perfectly captures the way one image, one line of a book, one idea can stick with someone their whole life and sort of become a personal mantra for them.
Despite the fact that I'm an artist,
I don't relate well to the art world. I've never understood its ideals and standards. I always identify with the underdog of any situation, and in the art world I feel just that.
Writers, however, make me feel like I am at home. I loved this book because I love to read about art from a deeply personal perspective. Hempl, a writer, speaks so beautifully of what she loves about this painting. Things that do not matter to an art critic, but matter to one person. That is what I love about art.
She also included much about Matisse, and his theories on his own art and his series of Odalisque paintings. The art world questioned his motives for painting different versions of the same type of woman over and over again. In a number of words, he basically explained it was because he loved them, and they were an outward expression of how he felt inside.
That is how I feel about the ladies I paint. I know that I continually paint portraits of women, but each one comes from a different place inside of me, each one is so aligned with the period of my life it was painted during. The symbolism in the objects they hold, the things that hang behind them - these are the ways I express myself, and I plan to keep painting them for as long as they come to me.
Anyway, Blue Arabesque is a beautiful explanation of the relationship between humans and the small things they encounter that inspire them eternally. I couldn't put it down and finished it in less than a week. I highly recommend it!!
I hope you're all having a beautiful week! It's been really hot's making me a little anxious for fall weather.


A Painted Journey said...

Oh, Amanda, what a beautiful post! You make me want to run right out and purchase that book (luckily you are my daughter so perhaps I can borrow it for free (if I promise not to carry it around in my purse and get it all dog-eared!)...

You are such a gifted writer and artist. I hope you are always inspired to create and paint the womens' portraits that you do. They are all so beautiful and I loved hearing you talk about them here!... Love, Mummy

WoolenSails said...

Loved this post and it is true, what you feel inside about your art is what counts, not what the public or critics think.