Little Big Thoughts:
Visual Impact doesn’t mean immediate impact. The slow burn is a very common experience when looking at say a Velazquez. When walking in the National Gallery in London, the Velazquezs’ there take time to really grow on you. Rokeby Venus, a portrait or two. Sure they are beautiful at first, even a bit ordinary - but then it happens - it grows, it opens, the air begins to move , the molecules quiver. Then it hits you - WHAM! Impact. You can’t unsee it - once it opens, all the plains of the painting are revealed. Your eye moves seamlessly between all sections, in, out around, up and away. You suddenly notice many things you didn’t see in the beginning - this edge, that colour, this decision, the face suddenly sits in space as a living sculpture.
All the things that are so hard to figure out while painting, are as if done seemlessly - easily. But of course you know better - every great painting is a tear dropping struggle (but also fun) and a huge challenge. Once it is 'complete' it gives a sense of ease which only comes when all the pieces fit together - Perfection.
Morandi has the same effect. The first time I saw a Morandi in reproduction I didn’t understand it- why is this guy (my teacher Israel Hershberg) going crazy about this grey, clumsy painting. When experiencing the Morandi museum in Bologna, the first time it hits you, it's like a drug- a revelatory experience - How can it be that this works so well? This nothing, the thinnish paint done in one time? But once you get it-you never want to look away. The compositional element-the simple blocks of colour, WHAM! then add the beautiful connections (edges) of these blocks that create this space, the Italian air, even the timeframe- 50’s, 60’s - smokey old room in a hot Italian apartment in late afternoon light... Perfection.
The paintings of Morandi haunt me - when working in the studio they creep into my imagination. The economy and simplicity in his paintings make them all the more profound, and I tell myself : ”If he could do it that simply and it works, I have to remember not to over complicate the composition!” There are painters that blow you away, those who show you what NOT to do, and those like Morandi - who remind you.
Other paintings jump out at you! Titian’s Bacchus in London - you stand there and the colours are so potent, so saturated, the reality of it all, the finess…WHAM! It’s almost instant! The virtuosity is unmistakable - every brushstroke perfect, every tone, colour and edge - perfection.
Your eye moves violently from one form to the other as each element in this painting is so different from one another. The light female is right next to a dark burnt sienna fawn, who is next to permanent green grass, which connects to yellow ochre ground that moves up into pure cobalt blue sky, which is cut with the beautiful greek-like Bacchus. Pure joy. Daring, arrogant, self confident. I’m sure he cried with stress and frustration on many a day doing this piece. But you can’t see any of that. Perfection.
(unfortunately the reproduction doesn't do it justice- you have to see the real thing)