Sunday, 28 March 2010

Bonnard and Me

I don't know if you're familiar with the French painter Pierre Bonnard, but he's one of my favourites.
Can't you feel the warmth and radiance of the sun-lit South of France pulsing in these pictures?

The woman in the centre of the painting on the left, ("Nu a Contre-Jour"), is Marthe, the love of his life.
It was her neurotic nature that dictated their move from the hectic centre of the Paris art world to live in virtual seclusion in the countryside.

Of course Bonnard's friends understandably resented her influence, but this troubled woman acted as his inspiration and became the focal point
of much of his work, just as we see here.

As often as Marthe is seen centre stage in his work, just as often is she found right on the periphery: the top of her head just beyond a window ledge, or appearing to peep over the very edge of a table top.
In the painting on the right, ("Open Window"), she has been squashed into the very fabric of the painting at the bottom right hand corner.
You can just make her out, sitting in the blue chair with the cat beside her.
don,t believe this is solely down to Bonnard's technique of flattening and opening out space with scintillating colour so that we have to search out detail.
What he is doing brilliantly, (no pun intended), is capturing the claustrophobia of their life together. Marthe's presence is all pervading.

Devoted couples everywhere, (maybe especially retired ones!) will recognise just what he is getting at.

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