I’m looking at Paul Cézanne’s The Bather, c 1885. It’s in The Museum of Modern Art in New York, but I’m looking at it in a book and online.
I’ve copied it in blue, red and yellow colour pencils. The photograph is much brighter than the original.
It is the first painting in the book that Matthew lent me, 350 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York. I’m not sure why it is the first, because the 2nd plate is an older work, a photograph of lace made by placing the lace directly onto the photographic plate. That’s beside the point. Although is it? Here in this painting of The Bather we have a very awkward looking figure, almost like plasticine, lumpy and stick like, sausage fingers, very muscular knees, a twisted mouth. The boy doesn’t look like a boy at all, he isn’t real, but that’s what photography is for, to replicate things, like the lace, each fold and detail. Really? No, photographs also are translations, one thing to another.
The landscape is interesting, perhaps a beach, or a river bank in mist. I like the greys and beiges of the background, I like his pale skin, the strong outlines around the crooks of his arms. He’s like a Morandi pot come to life, before Morandi. He is right at the front, almost about to step out. His back foot could come forward and out of the screen, I’m looking at it on my computer. I was thinking about children drawing and the trouble of trying to get them to put a figure in context, as if, if you do that it can’t come out of the page, it gets stuck. But this is the same, the context is there but it’s not convincing, the bather is walking away from it, goodbye beach, goodbye river.
When we were at Mt Beauty, at Cass’s house, I did some drawings. I’ve laid them all out to look at.
I like the drawings, they remind me of being at the house, sitting outside in the strange triangular spaces formed between the house and the fences. The layers of green, yellow, purple, that dark bronze red of ornamental fruit trees, the green grey of the mountains.
I’m trying to work out what to do with these drawings, where to go from here, attempt to describe the layers of space, the rampant growth, the peace.
On holiday in Mt Beauty, I started the day pruning, cutting back the wisteria, which grows enthusiastically and vigorously into the house. Having sorted that out I went down to check out the shops. The op shop had books at 50c each. I got 5. This one The English Garden has beautiful black and white photographs, of mainly, what I would call the parks of stately homes.
I also got Sunset House: more perfume from Provence by Lady Fortescue, pub. 1943. The memoir of a woman who bought a cottage in olive groves near Antibes.
Also two more gardening books: Landscape Gardening by Richard Sudell, pub. 1933, and Unusual Vegetables by the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming, pub. 1978. Fascinating!
I’ve started designing a colour and weave blanket for Cade. It’s an interesting process of approximations – the colour of the wool won’t match the colour of the crayons. The drawing is abstract, a diagram really. The only way to really find out what it will look like is to make it. Which is exciting.