Saturday, 8 March 2014

Marc Chagall - Art, Artist and Audience

“Day after day, winter and summer, at six o'clock in the morning, my father got up and went off to the synagogue. There he said his usual prayer for some dead man or other. On his return he made ready the samovar, drank some tea and went to work. Hellish work, the work of a galley-slave. Why try to hide it? How tell about it? No word will ever ease my father's lot... There was always plenty of butter and cheese on our table. Buttered bread, like an eternal symbol, was never out of my childish hands” -  Marc Chagall

There is more to the eye than meets the neat descriptions given by the art intelligentsia to this artist.. Marc Chagall may well be a cubist or even an expressionist, in fact I think he certainly painted within those descriptions but he is so much more. Surrealist, modernist, magical realist, Impressionist, symbolist, fauvists (is there such a word?) and quite possibly a romanticist. When you put all such ill fitting labels to one side you have a man, an artist who knew more about colour than many of his contemporaries.

It is his use of colour that impresses me most. So vibrant, so vital, electric hues running live along the current of his brush strokes. Bold, vivid depictions that encapsulate more life than a market square filled with people. I mean, look at this, look at the way the arm seems to move as the bow travels across the strings. You can hear the sound of Vivaldi erupting like a force of nature from the violin. The connection between art, artist an audience forms a holy trinity. It is like you, the viewer, are sitting in the circle seats observing a musician play. His music so heavenly that he, and you, ascend up above the rooftops tracing the damp air of the night sky, kissing heaven with a divine sound. Lost within the moment.

His use of blue is almost pornographic, it is so erotic, so sensual especially in this...

La Bellaza

 It feels like voyeurism watching two lovers in natural congress as stars spin, birds wheel, the woman moans softly, seductively to the warm pressure of the mans impassioned kisses. The forces of nature combine as fish and fowl float in near paroxysmal proximity. It is less lust and more divine love, almost angelic in its depiction of two people do what comes natural to not only hominids but all animal kind.  It is as natural as the elements.

The above two images reveal one side of Chagall's talent but he was equally as good a figurative artist, a painter of portraits, as he was an expressionist. This is his self portrait...


The thing that really impresses me though is his searching, yearning heart. It is as if, having been born a Jew, a monotheist and having to haul that historical baggage around, the ritual, the dogma, he then seeks more than either his faith or the Torah can deliver. His love of God, his Yahweh is such that he looks for the unexplained mysteries to see if he might unravel them in some way, understand the mystical, align it to the factual. He presents sex in a rather romantic but also soulful, sensual way. He sees the universe around him spinning by as he stands on this blue jewel of a planet as it too spins around. Gravity and mystery have a similar resistance and he as an artist struggles to find release from both.
It is with an innocent eye, one whose love not only of colour but of shape and form give him purpose. These elements combine as he, with a vision not seen since Van Gogh, coalesces into some semblance of what he sees to then be confined by the borders of the wooden frame that in reality confine nothing, certainly not his art which pulses from it like a living, breathing thing. It really is quite remarkable that one man could have achieved so much.
"When Matisse dies Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is".  - Pablo Picasso

Born Moishe Segal in Liozna during the days of the Russian Empire in 1887 of Jewish parents, Chagall was later to change his nationality to French along the way he took the art world by storm. Remaining forever true to his faith but forever seeking out before showing the world the oneness of humanity and of all creation. Not just a good artist but a staggering visionary one.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.


LeeKwo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LeeKwo said...

This is an excellent introduction to the work of Chagall a painter I have always admired/The two blue painting are among the greatest painting of the 20 C/As usual yr explanation of the man and his work is full of biographical and stylistic information/Thanks for the read/In a world of so much crappy reviews yr work always stands out for its clarity and accuracy/Regards and affection Lee Kwo/

Anonymous said...

Truly beautiful work! I always enjoy my art and history lessons here. :-)

Russell Duffy said...

Lee>>>So glad you like it. I had no idea you were a fan of Chagall's work.

Russell Duffy said...

bloomnpsycho>>>Me the art critic eh? I should coco! :)

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog