Matisse


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Well last Friday turned into a really interesting day. First off I caught up with my old buddie C with whom, you may recall from a recent posting, I’m hoping to collaborate on a script for a comedy programme. We met in the riverside cafe at Tate Modern for reasons which are probably already apparent. C had been working on an idea for the last few weeks and it was my first opportunity  to go through it. I have to say it’s a great concept, funny and terrifically well-written. It’s based on things we can draw upon from the past both work-related and personal experience. So we’ve got a lot of source material to mine. I did offer some honest and, hopefully, constructive thoughts which got us into some sensitive areas but we’ve worked through that and are ploughing ahead on developing the script further and doing some essential background work. Who knows where it will lead but it’s great to be working on something creative and collaborating with my old mucker again. I’m sure it’ll be tempestuous at times but pretty exciting too eh.

Anyway to follow our catch up I had booked a ticket to view the brilliant Matisse Cut-Outs show featuring some 130 pieces of his work. I’ve been meaning to visit the show since it was opened by his great grand-daughter Sophie, pictured above, back in April. This was the last week-end of the show and I was lucky to get a ticket as it’s been mobbed, indeed the computer booking sytem had crashed last week because of the huge interest. Now the centre piece of the show is the series of four iconic Blue Nudes produced in 1952, the year of my birth, when Matisse’s health was fading. This show is the first time they’ve been seen together in this country. Number III is shown above  and it’s my favourite of the series. I first came across it at school when I was about 15. Art lessons then were mostly an excuse for the lads to throw paint over each other. My very good friend DF and I were the only ones interested in art and the art master indulged us a bit, allowing us to pour over his fab collection of books. This image was one of the first to captivate me. Our teacher explained that Matisse had virtually given up painting because of his health issues and had taken to using cut outs of painted goaches stuck onto white paper to create his visions of naked seated women probably inspired by African native art and his earlier visit to Tahiti. The use of the solid slabs of single dominant colour against a contrasting background was a throwback to his early work. Whatever the motivation I just loved how Matisse had created such beautiful form and shape using the technique.

These women were, and remain, stunningly attractive to me and copying the technique which looks so simple that a child could do it, is devilishly difficult to pull off. Which just shows what a genius Matisse was. However I never realised it until I saw the artwork up close that Blue Nude IV, which is actually the first in the series, consists of quite a few pieces of smaller-scale blue goache overlapped etc to create the final form. It just shows that Matisse himself had to work at the images to get the right results in the end. That made me feel a little less incapable.

Anyway I’ve now seen the cut-outs in the flesh, so to speak, and they are as vibrant and evocative as when I first saw them all those years ago in that well-thumbed art book. That’s something else ticked off my bucket list.

pp

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