A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Astonishing Apple

Cézanne is perhaps my favorite painter. It doesn't hurt that I lived for a time in the south of France, and also in Paris, very near each of his studios. Since painting (representational, anyway) is the rendering of visual perception, light is essential to the artist. Being in the place where an artist worked, observing the quality of the light in that place, fosters an understanding of exactly what the painter was seeing. If he's a genius to begin with, such proximity can't help but engender a deep appreciation of his oeuvre.

Cézanne's favorite subject was Mt. Sainte-Victoire, the stark peak of which can be viewed from many points around Aix-en-Provence. Cézanne painted 44 oils and 43 watercolors of Mont Sainte-Victoire alone.

But he liked to paint portraits and natures mortes (still lifes) as well. He has this to say about fruit:

"Les fruits sont les plus fidèles...Ils aiment qu'on fasse leur portrait. Ils sont là comme à vous demander pardon de se décolorer. Leur idée s'exhale avec leurs parfums. Ils viennent à vous dans toutes leurs odeurs, vous parlent des champs qu'ils ont quittés, de la pluie qui les a nourris, des aurores qu'ils épiaient. En cernant de touches pulpeuses la peau d'une belle pêche, la mélancolie d'une vieille pomme, j'entrevoie dans les reflets qu'elles échangent la même ombre tiède de renoncement, le même amour du soleil, le même souvenir de rosée, une fraîcheur....Avec une Pomme, je veux étonner Paris!”

I translate this as:

The fruits are the most trustworthy. They like having their portraits done. It’s as if they’re apologizing for their colors fading. Their idea is exhaled with their perfumes. They come to you with all of their scents, speak to you of the fields they’ve left, of the rains which have nourished them, of the dawns they have witnessed. Outlining with supple strokes the skin of a beautiful peach, the melancholy of an old apple, I can’t help but notice in their reflections the same tepid shadow of renunciation, the same love of the sun, the same memory of the dew, a freshness….With an apple, I want to astonish Paris!”

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