Blackpaint 127


Gastropub

Down to the pub at the bottom of the road, which we will call the Dick Turpin.  Many weeks ago, I left a number of my paintings there to be displayed in the restaurant area when it was up and running.  The decoration has been complete for several weeks, but there always seems to be a problem; the chef has let them down is the current one.  I have given up really, but since it is costing me nothing, I’m leaving the paintings there for the present, hoping against experience and reason that they will eventually go up and well-fed customers will buy them.

Bonnard

I’m looking at three postcards from the Paris Musee national d’art moderne, lined up on the mantelpiece.  They are, left to right, “Nu a la bagnoire”, “L’atelier au Mimosa” and “Nu de dos a la Toilette”.  They were done in 1931, 1946 and 1934 respectively, but I can detect no major difference in style.

The first thing is that from a distance of 10 feet or so, they look like abstracts – which doesn’t detract from their beauty at all.

Secondly, there is no depth in them.  Everything is upfront; the perspective is accurate but there is no sense of the background receding; the floor in “Nu..baignoire” is given the same value as the bath, the chair and the woman’s leg.  There are no shadows to emphasise perspective; the mimosa leaves in the second painting appear to be plastered directly onto the windowpanes.  The room appears to be shimmering, as if burning in yellow, orange and pink flames. 

Finally, there is an almost Klimt-like appearance to the patterning on the floors, chair back etc.

According to Brassai (Penguin book of Art writing, ed. Martin Gayford), he worked on several paintings at once, canvases pinned to wall, loading his brush and applying the colour to more than one canvas, wherever he thought it might fit.

Paul Nash

I was about to contrast the Bonnards with the washed-out Downlands and chilly blues and greens of Nash – then I had  a look at the latter’s work.  Yes, steely, chilly blue skies, but the browns and yellows of “Landscape of the Moon’s Last Phase” and “Michaelmas Landscape” are actually the same as “Mimosa” and “Nu..Toilette”.

Incidentally, I said in Blackpaint 114 that there were no good, cheap books on Bonnard.  I was wrong; there is a Thames and Hudson and another small book – but although the colours are good, the illustrations are only postcard size and too many are black and white.

Blackpaint

04.05.10

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