Saturday. I'm reading The Unknown Matisse at the moment by Hilary Spurling, the first of a two volume biography recommended by Jon Carroll in his Chronicle column some time back. Actually starting the first volume says something, given my reading habits these last ten years. Fifteen years. He's an artist, by the way. A painter. Known for his use of color. Late nineteenth century, first half of the twentieth century. Fauve. Impressionist. French.
Yes, yes: I know you knew that, but I know by sight the works of very few major painters of the last whatever number of centuries and few enough of their names, this having lived near New York City during the mid fifties and early sixties with access to all of its museums. I know a little bit about photographers and their work. I have a book case full of photography books standing in the entrance hallway of my apartment and I pull them down and look at them often as not to see what all the shouting is about. Sometimes I think I catch a glimmer of what the photographers who produced them were being driven to impart. Nothing too relevatory, you understand, but I can pick out a Cartier-Bresson from an Avedon from a Moriyama as often as not. A beginning. A start.
Still, beginner or master, reading about this stuff does draw your interest. A hint of something here, a hint of something there, a different way of seeing and feeling, I suppose, when you look at or create a photograph or a painting. Matisse talks about his art, painting from personal “feeling” rather than creating another copy of something that's commonly understood and accepted by the larger audience. Focus on what gives you feedback, my man, and ignore those who suggest you're an idiot. And many will suggest you're an idiot.
Fun to play at it. Think about, wonder about the veil that seems to block you from seeing whatever it is that you in your deepest and most private of hearts was meant to “see”. How to get around it? How to sneak a peek? Could it really be true your bent has turned out to be photographing women's toes? Kind of like Gully Jimson's fascination for painting feet? Nah. Couldn't be. Matisse would have done it, of course, if women's toes after his long search turned out to be his passion. I wouldn't, of course. Don't have the stomach or the determination. Too many ways to be distracted: the fan blowing a cool breeze over my body; a bottle of sake sitting on the kitchen counter, calling; a small, but reasonably good sushi restaurant located two minutes down the hill in case of discomfort. There are many diversions that will allow you to avoid the harder decisions, let you leave them to the Matisses of this world. (Women's toes, though? I wonder how I'd approach them, here in Oakland?)