#Cezanne #painitng #artist #composition #JosephCampbellFoundation
About Cezanne: We have a guest artist to interview today—Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest living landscape artist to talk about the painter, Paul Cezanne.
MEM: Alexander, people often talk about an artist’s use of line and colour and various techniques. But you’re thinking more about subject matter from a really interesting point of view.
ALEXANDER: I’m always fascinated when an artist returns time and again to a particular form or subject matter. So often he seems to be drawn back by a mysterious, irresistible force. Just look at Cezanne’s painting of Mont St. Victoire. And that’s only one of the many he created. All of them were different but still Mont St. Victoire was always the inspiration for them.
MEM: What draws this painter to back to this mountain?
Rarely can an artist explain himself or herself. Why does one object inspire an artist, yet another considers that same object as stupid or dull. Why does he choose a particular subject matter? Often we think the painter has consciously chosen the subject matter but maybe it’s more an unconscious process. Also—and this is interesting—sometimes, I think the object chooses the artist! With Mont St. Victoire, Cezanne might have agreed.
MEM: But how could that be?
ALEX: Hard to say and I, as a landscape painter, could not tell you just how. The inspiration seems to come from outside and somehow captures the imagination. All quite mysterious! I think Mont St. Victoire might have held Cezanne hostage.
MEM: What was it about the mountain that so fascinated Cezanne?
ALEX: He wrote to the novelist Emile Zola referring to his mountain as his “belle motif”. By that I think he meant that the mountain represented something else and very special to him. It was much greater than just part of the landscape. Perhaps it made him think of permanence and non-permanence of existence.
MEM: You’ve got two other Cezanne paintings—Chateau Noir and The Card Players. What are you seeing in them?
ALEX: That mountain is so solid. It dominates the landscape like a herd of elephants dominates the savannah. In The Card Players and Chateaux Noir [of which he did many versions], I see that same solid “mountain shape” lurking at the back of the painting and forming the backbone of the composition. You can see it as your eye moves across the backs of the card players and the outline of Chateaux Noir.
It’s more than a useful device or shape for the composition. Because he uses it so much in his compositions, perhaps the motif represents his need for solidity of the so-called real world—almost as if he wants to pin it to his painting. His short brushstrokes break the rest of the painting into little parts. His use of colour and dark and light, all suggests that he sees the world in little fragments or pieces—which he then attaches to his solid mountain shapes. An interesting way of depicting his reality. Always the clash of opposites—solidity vs fragmentation.
MEM: So Alex—what are you were working on now?
ALEX: My landscapes are becoming what I like to call interior landscapes. When physical objects are not so important, perhaps that light which I love can shine through.
MEM: Thanks Alex. I see that you’re a “time traveller.” What’s that all about?
ALEX: This CyberSpace is a very strange place. In it, I’ve been able to travel back in time to meet all sorts of famous artists. Do you know that I actually met one of my most favourite painters–Marc Chagall
If you have enjoyed hearing Alex’s thoughts on art, you’ll enjoy The Trilogy of Remembrance where he perpetually seeks his muse and finds his humanity, You can purchase the three novels right here.
Joseph Campbell Foundation has just recently selected the novels of The Trilogy of Remembrance [The Drawing Lesson, The Fate of Pryde and Night Crossing] along with the works of fifteen other authors as novels with mythic themes. I am honoured to be included along with Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkein and James Joyce in this group. You can find the Joseph Campbell Foundation Amazon page right here.