Cezanne painted by Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) is the doyen of the French impressionism. He was one of the longest-lived impressionist painters, along with Renoir.

Born on St Thomas Island (today US Virgin Islands), in a jew family of Belgian origin. His father married the widow of his uncle, which is why the couple have been isolated from their religious community and their children played mainly with the local kids. The father dealt with trade and preferred his son to take his way. But the young Camille felt very early his vocation and went to Paris to learn from the European painters.

His talent has been gradually developing, passing slowly through the classical realism, impressionism, pointilism and neo-impressionism. Pissarro left us a huge number of paintings in all known at that time genres – cityscapes, landscapes, still life, flower paintings, portraits and self-portraits.

Pissarro is devoted to plain-air painting. During his life in France and in England, he travelled much throughout the country and studied with his brush nature and people.

In his paintings is felt incredible reverence to the ordinary people and their work. Hardworking, concerned, tired, curious, conceived – they are the focus of his work. I think this is because he was born on a remote island, grew up with local children, and continually watched their parents working hard to survive.

It is curious that Pissarro painted relatively few portraits, but each one of them shows how much he has loved people and how well he has understood the human soul.

I especially like his portrait of Paul Cezanne.

Paul Cezanne was not a big talker. He had a difficult character, one difficult to communicate man. Today we would call him an introvert.

Look at Cezanne – he is sitting to pose reluctantly, wearing a coat and hat, ready to leave at any moment. Cezanne was an absolute negligee in life – no care for his appearance. It is felt how inaction tortures him. We don’t see his hands, but we feel his fingers moving unconsciously, inpatient to take the brush.  Cezanne most probably only endured this sitting for Pissarro. Back to him on the wall there are only paintings, in one of which (with ironic love) a stocky painter with a beard holds his palette, staying like an angel right above Cezanne.

All this in one of my loveliest colour combinations – brown and blue. Marvellous picture of the great painter.

Since Pissarro was an incredibly soft and lovable man,  he also has been a great friend.

You can look at his paintings at Wikiart here.

Fred Cecil Jones – the painter of the detail

Looking at the works presented on  the Tate web site I was attracted by a very simple and somewhat sad painting. A work of the British artist Fred Cecil Jones, which was painted in 1936.

Fred Cecil Jones (1891-1956) is a very humble and ordinary person who throughout his life remains focused on his art work.

He participated in the First World War when his talent was noticed, and he served as a military painter. During the war, he gained himself a little joking and a little nagging nickname – ‘Detail Jones’.

Then he came back from the war, got married (his wife was an artist, too), and painted a lot. He mostly painted cityscapes and landscapes of Northern England. This I managed to find for him in the laconic British art web pages.

A few things impressed me in his work.

Apparently talented graphics’ painter that uses innovative techniques of work, combining pencil, charcoal and water paints. He manages to truly achieve detail with a photo quality. Extremely attached to the objective reality, to the obvious. Very sparing colour use.

Besides his personal talent, one can feel his human softness. And an innate art intelligence that can be probably explained by the fact that his father and wife have been artists, too.

Look at this picture which name is perfectly found. Chimney stacks and winding ways. So simply and sadly.

The British are very modest in the presentation of their artists.

It is simply said in the Tate site that according to his widow (the exact year of what she has said is given) this is a view ‘from the top of the steps near a passage through the Kyber Pass (a tunnel through the hill side)’ and on the steps is their dog.

The city view is grey. The houses are poorly maintained, with broken windows and thin chimneys with rising smoke, slightly worn by the autumnal wind.

The most colourful detail in the picture is the water colour box of the painter.

Sometimes life paths could be thin and cold like a wind blowing over a grey city. Life could be simple and hopeless like a photo detail. The colours could be only in our heads.

I have also understood from his works two more simple things. The first is that there are artists who are not present in Wikipedia, but this does not diminish their value. How much life in Europe has been changed in less than a century. And together with that – our vision for the fine arts.

Edvard Munch and nature

I am writing about Edvard Munch (1863-1944) cautiously and with fear.

I must admit, I’m afraid to hold my eyes on many of his paintings for long. So much pessimism, despair, and hopelessness are embedded in them that I physically suffer while watching them.

It is understandable – he is the consummate master of the brush and undoubtedly, very brave and independent mind, who has not been afraid to look at the darkest depths of life and the human soul.

Guided by the popular expression “if you are afraid of something, do it” and perhaps to overcome the strong not positive emotions, caused so far by much of his works, I decided to write about him here.

Who was Edvard Munch?

Unhappy heir to an unhealthy, burdened family? Son of a puritan who has grown up his children alone by reading inappropriate books to them and scaring them with ghost stories? A desperate drunk and a bully? An incredible pessimist? A man looking with no fear in the abyss? Or all that in one?

I don’t know the answer…

It remains a secret to me why his painting Scream is among the most expensive purchased art works in the world? Why do so many of his paintings have been subjects of theft? What makes people peep into the abyss, regardless of the fear?

If I didn’t know anything about his life, and if I would have enough money, I’d rather buy some of his landscapes.

I like how Munch feels nature. He seemed to read its soul in his paintings.

The trees have their own role and character and radiate emotions. The sea is a living organism, with its own energy and internal logic. It seems to breathe. The road is sleepy stretching along the sea. The moon talks to the shore. The sky is listening to their talk.

If you want to see some of the works of Edvard Munch, you may visit Wikiart.

Henri Matisse – the path of the olive trees

For two days I have been looking again at the paintings of Henri Matisse (1869-1954), which are available in Wikiart – almost 1000. I can’t stop marvelling at how so many of his works are among my favourite paintings.

I like Henri Matisse works from all periods of his life – his youth entry into the deep forest of art, his fruitful Parisian period, when he created his name of a great artist with an own style, his work from the period in Nice, his unusual and so memorable works with cut paper.

I can stop wondering how deeply his works touch me. They provoke my deepest emotions. Sometimes they make my happy. Sometimes they make me sad. They make me intensively think and ask questions.

Most of his life Matisse spent in southern France, on the French Riviera where he moved in 1917 year. The road of olive trees is painted in 1920 year.

I love olive trees. I love their softness and the flexibility of their curves. I like the way they reflect the wind in their poses.

The road passes through an olive grove, but only the trees near it are on the painting. The trees on both sides of the road are slightly inclined to the left. Probably the sea is to the right of the grove and the wind has blown from the sea for decades.

The trees on both sides of the road seem to be trying to talk each to other.

Do you feel how the trees on the left whisper something to that on the right? Both rows seem to want to touch each other, but they can’t. Even their shadows can’t.

Are the white, yellow and green on the ground reflections of the sunlight or rather, the moon is peeping between the tree branches?

There are many functions of art. One such function is to provoke us to think and feel.

Great artists are therefore great because their paintings seem to perform this function so well that their works make us feel real and bring us back to the roots of ourselves.

Pierre Bonnard – the painter of intimacy

Some artists live and work long, but remain outside the noise and excitement surrounding the art. They succeed (somehow) to move away from the unproductive, the ephemeral, and to sink into a world of reflections, feelings and emotions from which they build a new artistic world. A world in which we seek and discover ourselves.

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) lived almost 80 years and died months before his jubilee exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of New Your City. Instead, the museum organized posthumous retrospective of Bonnard’s work in 1948.

Raised in the home of a French minister, he has lived a happy and cloudless childhood that can be felt in all his works. He remained in his entire life a calm big child, watching with widely open and trusting eyes the world and as if not feeling any stress and tension.

Pierre performed his father’s will to become a lawyer and graduated law in Paris, but together with the Faculty of Law he visited much more diligently the prestigious private Academy of Art Julian. Again obediently, he exercised his profession of jurist for some time before dedicating himself completely to art.

In his years spent in Paris he created numerous street landscapes and interior paintings, but from the muted colours and from the obvious lack of mood in the paintings from his Parisian period it becomes clear that Pierre has not been very happy in the capital. Paris has not been his exact place.

Maybe that’s why at the age of 43 he moved to southern France, in a cottage on La Route de Serra capeou near Le Canne, where he stayed for the rest of his life.

Pierre Bonnard experimented in different styles – post-impressionism, symbolism, art nuovo, expressionism. With the years he has affirmed his own approach in each of these styles, which some art critics call intimism.

Intimism in the sense of the focus on privacy, distance from the big societal problems, sinking into daily life. Maybe that’s why Picasso considered Pierre Bonnard a non-decisive (according to Wikipedia).

But is there a greater determination than sinking in the simple life with a few close and loved people? Is there a more secure test for the value of one person and for his attitude to the life?

Sometimes simple is harder. To live every day with your eyes widely open, over and over again. The courage to live is also a determination.

Look at this picture.

This is his wife Martha, who carries a bowl of milk to their cat at night. The cat is waiting for her outside the painting. Martha seems very sleepy while carrying the milk carefully. She is dressed in a long robe, which looks violet in the moonlight. It is cold inside the room. The moon patiently illuminates the world.

Isn’t it simply wonderful?

You can take a look at his artworks here.

The statue of Nike from Samothrace

I do not feel very competent in the sculpture art, although I like many sculptures of Michelangelo and other Italians, and of course I like the works of Auguste Rodin.

The statue of the goddess Nike from Samothrace was the first sculpture that impressed me so much in my life. I saw her exposed in the Louvre museum about 10 years ago, but my impressions were so strong that I can still see her clearly with my eyes closed.

Nike is the ancient goddess of victory.

The statue was found on the island of Samothrace in 1863 by the French consul in Adrianopolis and amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau. It is 244 cm high and is made of marble. Nike was found without a head and with no hands. For better conservation and preservation it was carried in France, and from 1884 year is stored in the Louvre museum in Paris. Now it is the dominant exponent on the Daru staircase.

The creation of the statue is dated around 250 BC or as late as 180 BC.

The assumptions are that it was made in honour of victory in a naval battle of the Macedonian general Demetrius Poliocetes. Some archaeologists think that the creator of the statue is the sculptor Pythocritus from Rhodes.

Legends about the subtlety and perfection of art in ancient Greece are still alive.

Although its traditions and techniques have been brought to ancient Rome, it is believed that the ancient Greek art remains perfect and unsurpassed. The statue of the goddess Nike of Samothrace is a conclusive proof of that.

Look at the grace in her posture. How softly draped is her garment. It’s amazing that it’s made of marble, isn’t it?

Her wings are confidently dissolved, with delicately ornamented feathers on them. Is she flying away in the sky inspired, or is she descending tired from above?

It’s amazing how expressive her figure is, even with no hands and no head. We can only imagine how beautiful and impressive she was in her original form.

You can see pictures of the statue at the Louvre museum web site.

From the heart I wish you to see it on your own.

Sandro Botticelli and the Queen of Beauty

I can hardly write anything new about the life and work of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), one of the most famous Italian painters of the Renaissance time.

I have been attracted to his art since my childhood and I am extremely happy that last year I managed to see some of his works in Florence.

Unquestionable master of the brush. One of the geniuses of the Renaissance art.

My words are powerless to express my admiration and adoration over all that this great man and painter has left us.

I’m going to tell you about his favourite model – Simonetta Vespucci (1490-1476), also called La Bella Simonetta and recognised as The Queen of the Beauty of North Italy at that time.

Simonetta has been daughter of an Italian nobleman from Genoa, and had married only sixteen years old for the Florentine Marco Vespucci. Moving to Florence, she has become a very popular and loved woman for her beauty.

The story claims that she has been  loved by the two brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano, heirs of the then rulers of Florence – the family De Medici. Without any real evidence therefore, because at that time such a story would be extremely scandalous for a lady with a noble Florentine surname. More likely the brothers have been attracted by her incredible beauty.

Sandro paints her repeatedly. He paints her portraits or embeds her in some of his paintings, which today enjoy greatest popularity – Primavera, The Three Graces and The Birth of Venus, where Simonetta is painted as Flora and the Venus herself.

Simonetta has died very young from tuberculosis, only 22 years old. The burial process has gone through the entire city, and her coffin had remained open so that the citizens of Florence could had admired her beauty for the last time.

It is not known if Simonetta posed for Sandro at all while she has been alive, because his pictures with her image are dated with years after her death.

Looks like he has painted her from memories. What a sad apotheosis of beauty.

You can see his works on Wikipedia, but I strongly recommend that you visit Florence to see them with your own eyes.

Maud Lewis – the naive soul of Nova Scotia

Do you know where Nova Scotia is?

Nova Scotia is one of the Eastern provinces of Canada, on the Atlantic. It’s a peninsula with many small offshore islands. The capital of Nova Scotia is Halifax, a city that is notoriously known for powerful explosions during the both world wars.

In Nova Scotia, in the small town of Digby, in a small wooden house with thin walls and only one room, without water inside and with no electricity, in 1970 year, at the age of 67 years died alone an incredibly strong and cheerful woman – the artist Maud Lewis (1902-1970).

This little thin woman, physically handicapped and tormented by strong rheumatoid arthritis, who has lived in incredible poverty, bordering on misery, leaved to the world a huge number of cheerful pictures painted with the eyes of a happy child.

The naive art of this woman is amazing!

She doesn’t even have a complete secondary education (poverty forces her to leave the school barely graduating from grade 5). Her only teacher in painting was her mother, who has shown Maud how to make Christmas cards for selling to their neighbours.

I will not show you here her beautiful winter paintings, with snowed pines, happy children on their sleighs and deers with smart sad eyes. I know you’ll be fascinated by them. They are wonderful, with a typical Northern beauty.

I will not show you here her magical landscapes of the Atlantic seashore, with the lighthouses, the coastal cliffs and the seagulls talking each to other, perched on two adjacent stones. They are wonderful, with a typical Northern beauty.

Look at this colourful landscape sealed the short Canadian summer. What a sunny splendour and serenity. A fast-passing beauty, like life itself. It is as it is.

You can see her paintings in Artnet here.

Ivan Rabuzin – my favourite Croatian naivist

In the recent years I have discovered for myself the naive art. I am particularly impressed by the Croatian naive art, and among the Croatian naive painters I consider my favorite Ivan Rabuzin (1921-2008).

Born in a small village in the Croatian Zagorje and trained to become a carpenter, this huge talent becomes one of the flagmen of the European naive art.

His works were displayed in many cities worldwide, just to mention Paris, New York, Tokyo, Sao Paolo, Milan, Amsterdam, Zurich, Bratislava, Oslo, Munich, Firenze, Geneva, Bern, Hamburg, Cologne but not only.

I must admit that I was so fascinated by his works that for a while I have copied his pictures into the web site of my company (without asking permission from his heirs, which I am very sorry about!)

Ivan Rabuzin is one of the painters who inspired me to start painting again after more than 30 years of interruption.

I’m thinking why exactly he is my muse? Perhaps because he is a painter of the Balkan nature, in its original, pure and untouched by industrialisation and urbanisation. And I am a child of the Balkans, too.

Look at this picture. It‘s called Orehovec Hills.

In the green wooded hills there are two groups of houses. They are wonderful, those houses, neat and welcoming. Each group is located on a separate hill and is surrounded by a dense green wall. The only way out of the wall is the entrance and the exit for the houses.

No one knows if these houses are part of the same village, or if they are two separate villages? How can one get from the one group to the other? Isn’t there a shorter way? No one knows the answer...

The fields and the meadows around are so fresh and green. The eternal sky is spread over the hills, dotted with many little clouds.

If you want to have a look at the works of Ivan Rabuzin, visit his art portal created by his family or the web site of the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

Georges Papazoff – the Bulgarian Dali

Georges Papazoff (1894-1972) is a Bulgarian painter born in the city of Yambol, who spent almost all his life in France.

He is the flagman of the Bulgarian modern fine arts. Throughout his life he experimented in different styles – expressionism, abstractionism, symbolism. George Papazoff is a painter of world dimension. The Bulgarian Salvador Dali.

While working in Paris, he is part of the world‘s art elite. George Papazoff meets and talks with Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee.

The life of the genius is never easy.

In parallel with the brilliant development in his art, he began to face ungratefulness and envy in Paris, which is why he settled in the province and worked there in loneliness.

George Papazoff was rediscovered by the Bulgarian art historain Andrei Nakov, who lives and works in France. Andrei Nakov succeeded to convince him to return and start exhibiting again in Paris.

The art of George Papazoff is extremely expressive.

His works immerse you in a sea of good feelings, nice emotions and thoughts. Unique for him is the amazing closeness to nature and the warm presence of the heaven, the sea, the field, the man. Maybe an imprint from the childhood spent in Bulgaria. And for sure – an incredibly strong personality and a great talent.

Have a look at this painting called Trois figures.

A man and two women on the ground. He’s lying down, they’re half-seated to him. Is he dead or is he asleep? Isn’t he just dreaming and staring at the stars? Are they grieving for him or are they rivals for his love?

The unknown depth of the human soul, enclosed by gentle contours.

Not all equations in this life are solvable. Some equations have more than one solution.

If you want to see some of his works, you may look at Wikiart here. Enjoy!