looking

Pierre Bonnard: Work Table 1926-1937

I have long been fascinated by how we look and what we see. When I was in New York two years ago I went with the beautiful Frances to a wonderful exhibition of the work of Pierre Bonnard which has had a big effect on the way I look at painting in so many ways. His composition, colour and use of light is masterful but it is the overall way of looking that strikes me deep down. On the wall were some of his words:

"I'm trying to do what I have never done, give the impression one has on entering a room: one sees everything and nothing at the same time."

In contrast, the finely detailed work of the pre-Raphaelites looks at the world in a very different way to the impressionist work of Bonnard. Every inch of the canvas is painted with close attention to detail and in his review for the Telegraph in October 2008, Richard Dorment writes:

"...the eye tires of looking because Hunt didn't know (or didn't care) that in real life when we focus on an object in the foreground, the background and peripheral areas of the scene are blurred - and vice versa."

What interests me in my own drawing and painting is to be able to distil a scene to its essence, to remove everything that isn't relevant whilst layering on an even greater depth of interest and meaning. I want to produce work which will offer a sudden, intense view of a moment. To achieve what is in some ways the opposite of what Holman Hunt was doing but in other ways is a kind of nightmarish version: a sort of fever-induced close-up of Bonnard's first impressions.

I'm still miles away from all this of course.

6 comments:

Gigibird said...

This is why art and artists inspire me so much...seeing how they see a subject and treat it technically of course.
I am excited for you...doing this course.

Frances said...

Sue, is it possible that we saw that Bonnard exhibit two years ago?

I wanted to leave you a message complimenting you on your snowdrop-inspired drawing. I found it Matisse like...with its distillation of all that you saw in that garden. You found a way to show us what you saw, the way that you saw it.

The course that you are taking seems a good one.

xo

Gina said...

You may feel you are miles away but you have begun the journey which is the important thing. I thought your snowdrop painting was lovely.

Gilly said...

You know I love Bonnard, and was green with envy at you going to the NY exhibition! And I love that pic

And your snowdrop painting is great. I can see myself walking down that path, looking at the snowdrops, and inspecting what is under the chicken wire covers!!

suz said...

Interesting thoughts. I'll have to think about this the next time I go the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
As for being miles away from where you would like to be...as they say, a journey begins with the first step, and you are certainly several steps along!

paintdropskeepfalling said...

I'd love to see your paintings :) Will you post one or two?