I had a timeout during the Cannes/Nice weekend, and hopped off to visit Musée Matisse up in the hilly suburbs. I had been repeatedly advised (i.e. reminded) by my dearest mentor LTK to pay a visit. I did, and indeed, I loved it.
What was more magical was that I hopped further down the hill, into the museum of an artist I have never heard of. Hah, thanks to the lure of iced cold drinks! I guess it was really hot, I needed it in order to carry on my downhill climb, and there was this beautiful garden with minimalist walls and building, and it was too tempting not to just chill out there for a breather. I sat in the garden a long time to just take in all I had seen and felt at Matisse earlier, and the calm and peace of the garden filled with soothing lavender.
I was in fact, in Musee National Marc Chagall. This is a name I am totally unfamiliar with, and so with his works as well. No idea of any movement, no idea of his style. Nada. Why were we not taught about him in school? Or was it just that I was not paying attention? Or that he was not one of the exam questions that I “spotted” (i.e. betted on) to study for? I have zero idea.
But I fell in love.
There are so many unknowns in this short venture. It was more than a breath of fresh air, it was an opening into a whole new world of exploratory space for me. His works were very very very biblical. But it was not at all like the renaissance/baroque/rococo blahblahblah kind of old but still very fashionable high art forms. His works were biblical but very cubist/surrealist kind of modern abstract yet figurative. Furthermore, I had zero inkling about the old testament until I saw his works. (hah, and this is also when I realise I only know bible stories via paintings!!!!!! Now we know how much knowledge I have. yikes.) That was when I started googling for information on the bible, and I guess I am going to buy whatever I can lay my hands on when I next land in a physical bookshop.
I really enjoyed looking at his paintings, and seeing his perception on life and stories because he painted as he perceived, rather than painted as real human figures. Viewing his painting, albeit 2D, was an experiential journey for me. He has a way of using light, and colour, and elements to guide the viewer through the narrative of his painting. A flat painting that comes alive, well I guess only if one chooses to engage. There is a sort of strong sense of community, and yet there is also a sort of individual space and story behind each character. I guess that is what is important when you live in exile in a small closed minority community. It is amazing how paintings can seal a moment in time, and tell so much about values of the painter.
I was sucked into the small room filled with a loving passionate sea of red. Song of Songs is a set of five paintings depicting a man and a woman through different scenes. His paintings have a strong sense of rhythm, and it was clever that the audioset pairs it with music arrangement (not sure if it was part of Marc Chagall or the marketing team though). Paintings alone were deeply engrossing. There are many layers to its meaning, much depth to the depiction more than mere man and woman, but also our connection to God and fellow beings (man, animals). Any further description of this set of paintings is pure desecration because this is a very experiential journey so multi-dimensional that everyone probably takes a very different message home. The new eyes it gave me put forth a landscape where love, sexuality and spirituality coexist without guilt nor shame. It really makes me wonder what kind of culture I’m brought up in that instil such strange belief system of them not being able to co-exist!
I was so captivated I wanted to bring a piece of them home. Unfortunately, the postcards for sale are very badly cropped. What is left is only the sexual aspect, nothing left of the spiritual nor the lyrical. So no, no postcard this trip.
Marc Chagall opened up a new realm of knowledge for me to reach into. More reading list, thank you. He showed me that God does live with us in the everyday, not just on the pedestal or in sacred books. He lives with us in our mundane communication with fellow beings, with us through our feelings and emotions. Let not what others impress upon us that His love is any lesser in subjects that are deemed sacrilegious on their terms. He does not judge the way humans do.