“I adore [Matisse’s cutouts] for their simplicity, flatness, and childlike innocence.”
  • “I adore [Matisse’s cutouts] for their simplicity, flatness, and childlike innocence.”
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Post Title: Something about a painting

Post Date: March 29, 2015

Recently, we bought a painting. We were in San Diego and furnishing the new condo. In my mind was something large, a Morris Louis Abstract Expressionist or an Andy Warhol with those massive pink flowers. But something to fill the wall and set off the space.

It had all begun with Howard’s red chair. We had nothing in the room but a red chair, a color I would not usually choose, as I go for those boring neutrals, beiges, warm ochres — whatever my elder daughter finds bland and uninteresting.

But a reclining leather red chair spoke to him, and so we bought it on the spot. With a nondescript non-color couch, I also figured a rug with slashes of red, gold, green, and brown might work a little magic in the room. And then I considered that a painting might bring it all together.

As we meandered on the grass of the Festival of the Arts at UCSD I caught a glimpse of a painting. It was certainly large: 4 x 5 feet, at least, and it blasted red. I would never tell anyone to purchase paintings to match decor, but, hell, we needed something red to work with that chair and brighten up the rest of the room. Something drew me toward that canvas that sunny green day.

There was evidence of a variety of brushstrokes: what looked like a red bag in flight, a group of doughnuts or maybe they were bagels, the top of a soaring perfume bottle (also in flight) and two strange doors caught in this frenetic piece. With a background in art history, I figured that if I was responding to this painting, it must have multiple levels and actually communicate something of import. Not a starving-artist deal at all. Plus, I learned that the title was Metropolis and that certainly sparked my attention­— and imagination.

We spoke to the artist, Anna, about the price, but kept on moving, just wandering through the show. Her price was way more than I had expected to spend. But I was drawn back to the work, and offered the artist half — which I knew she would refuse. In fact, I felt I was insulting her. Her price was not unreasonable. We left the show but gave Anna our name.

Later that day as I was perusing her website, I noticed several charming prints that might do. I lay down for a nap and contemplated how the three simple attractive designs might look on our wall. I heard the phone ring. Anna revealed that the piece had not sold, so perhaps we might like to see it on our wall? Again, we discussed price: we moving up slightly and she (I could imagine her lips downturned) down. All right, we thought, we’ll agree to JUST see it in our space. Of course, it fit and we were hooked.

Later, asking for her influences, I was not surprised to discover that both Matisse’s cut-outs and Paul Klee’s childlike drawing figured prominently in her work. I adore both for their simplicity, flatness, and childlike innocence. Twice in my life I have gone to Vence, outside of Nice in France, to view Matisse’s Chapel where his famous cutouts were housed.

I could not put a reason on why Anna Choi’s painting called to me, but it did. It was the same experience in Alice Springs, Australia, when an even larger work by an Aboriginal artist’s almost abstract painting also whispered to me and made me weep. It combined the push-pull of Hans Hoffman with the Aboriginal signs of the mandala, the artist’s son’s barefoot feet, hedgehogs and woven bags that popped and whirled on multiple levels of meaning, colour, form, reality, illusion: sacred and secular melding.

As I edit this piece, written many months ago, I feel weepy. My youngest daughter has just had a little girl, and so I think about motherhood. Was I a good enough mother? What did I do as a mother? Our trips to Europe with our children, the laughter, the french fries, the coughs, the gites where we stayed, times spent together.

I feel ancient.

I hope that some of the things I have loved, such as the travel and especially the worlds and stories enclosed in the paintings, will survive me and — like the newest painting in San Diego — one day recall memories.

Title: Blogging Boomer | Author: Dr. Patricia Goldblatt | From: La Jolla | Blogging since: November 2013

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