Sunday, June 04, 2006

G is for Gris (This guy could paint! Just look!)

Juan Gris was someone whose name I'd come across, and could probably have identified as an artist, possibly even a Spanish artist, but that was all. In Barcelona last summer I saw Gaudi's and Miro's work around the city, visited the Picasso Museum, and saw postcards everywhere of the work of Velasquez, Goya and Dali. It was only when I was back in Dubai, watching the Spanish satellite channel TVE, that I saw Juan Gris' work for the first time, in a feature on a major exhibition.I fell in love with it then and there: the soft colours, the shapes, the clarity of it all.

So G was always going to be for Gris, but when I started browsing for images, I discovered that the exhibition had presented only a part of his range. And he did so much: still lives, views from windows, portraits and pierrots. Juan Gris died far too young, but painted like a man who knew his time was limited.

I confess now that all of the images here are from World Painting Gallery, which means that they are all reproductions, but there are two good things about this: first, you can have the pleasure of tracking down the originals; and second, these - and plenty more - are all available to buy online. Go see!

The Web Museum, Paris, has this to say,"Juan Gris was the Third Musketeer of Cubism, and actually pushed Cubism further to its logical conclusion until his ultimely death in 1927 at the age of 39. His pictures are a joy to look at! " See for yourself.

This is Glass, Cup & Bottle (1914) I love the richness of the blue and those red browns with that dazzling white, all those broad curves, and the way the contours look etched more than painted. Look at the grain of the wood and the sheen on the bottle! Happy! This is a lazy, sensual weekend with warm crusty rolls and fragrant coffee, the features and leisure pages from the newspaper, and all the time in the world, carefully packaged to fit into the two treasured hours you actually have between the weekend chores!

This is something else again! Fruit Bowl and Fruit, 1916. I like it because it reminds me of Edward Hopper's work and I like Edward Hopper! (He's H, by the way.) Look at that green! I have to admit that I'm not entirely clear on what's what, but I like looking, and I think that if I keep looking, it will come to me. I read that the essence of Cubism (Le Cubisme - what an eccentric sounding term - Le Cubisme!) is to show all facets at once, so perhaps to 'get' it, you have to make yourself relax and let your mind make sense of what your eyes present it with, rather than examining and rationalising? Why not?
I chose the Portrait of Madame Josette Gris (1916) because to me it's gentle and meditative, as if the artist was completely absorbed by his subject, both her physical appearance and her character, to the extent of creating a tone poem of colour. Pretentious? Moi? I don't care! It's beautiful.

I really enjoy haikus because a perfect haiku - rare, but worth everything - can capture a moment so perfectly that it remains alive, and every time you read those seventeen carefully crafted syllables, you return to that moment of recognition, of discovery all over again. Some paintings are like that. I don't know anything about Juan Gris's relationship with his wife, but I like what I find in this painting.
And now, from the man who brought you Glass, Cup and Bottle; Fruit Bowl and Fruit; and Fruit Dish, Glass and Newspaper, I give you........... Bottle and Fruit Dish (1919) !!!! Yay! ! But it could hardly be more different from the others, could it? Wow, but this man understood colour, and form, and all that stuff that I don't really know anything about but really really appreciate! Aren't you glad he lived and breathed, and didn't decide to become something respectable and socially responsible, like an accountant or a greengrocer?

The subject matter here may support that argument. Here we have Bananas (1926), and World Painting Gallery have listed it as Sculpture Style Expressionism. I wouldn't know, not being a fan of Expressionism, but it's one of many paintings that I like, and I've included it for its red. If you follow the links, you will also find Juan Gris's landscapes of harvest-yellow fields, but I have to stop somewhere, and this is the place. Enjoy!

P.S.Another plug for Mark Harden's Artchive (never met him, don't know anything about him, but I've had lots of fun on his website, so why wouldn't I tell everyone?) If you want to find out more about a particular artist, or just take time out from the needful, and browse for a while, the Artchive is an excellent study resource and online gallery. He has asked visitors, " buy fine art posters [from] is a key supporter of The Artchive, and by patronizing them, you help to support the site. I can personally vouch for the excellence of their customer service, selection and prices." So there you are.

P.P.S. Mark, if you or your lawyers are reading this and muttering about copyright, I'm a fan! I'm harmless! And hardly anyone reads my blog anyway....though I think it makes them happy....... grovel, sheepish grin, bloody cheek....................


Andrew said...

Hi. Just getting up to speed on your blog. Need to figure out the Spanish link...when you're back in Spain viist the new Picasso Museum in Malaga. The staff are a total nightmare, but it's decent enough collection.

MamaDuck said...

Good morning! Thanks for coming. I went for a Spanish URL because we're planning on moving to Valencia in 2007, so we're in transition. I shall be WWOOFing in Spain throughout July this year - also part of the transition - and though I don't yet know where, Andalucia looks most likely because that's where most WWOOF smallholders are based. Perhaps I'll see you, and some of the other bloggers in the region? This is getting quite exciting! Malaga Museum - I hadn't thought about museums. Have they got any of Picasso's late pottery? I only knew about his paintings before I went to Barcelona. and I was enchanted by his dishes!

musicalchef said...

I hadn't heard of him either. Will have to look him up!