You must undertake a sensuous adventure within the world of painting in order to know it all…you have to experience them. Mark Rothko
I made a pilgrimage to the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in March. I spent a week immersing myself in these two museums. Meeting the paintings I had looked at via slides, read about and studied in art history. Time and time again I experienced the joy, surprise humility and tears of finally meeting old friends in person. “Oh, I finally get to meet you in person, after all these years. I have heard so much about you, you look different in person.” It was humbling, there were encounters of presence reaching out and enveloping me that I can not write about because there are no words.
There were countless new meetings as well. Paintings that were new to me, painters that I was meeting for the first time. I realized I was meeting new mentors in my journey, masters whose work had indivuated beyond the egomania, patriarchy, colonialism, racism and sexism of their lifetimes. I entered the deep, altering, sacred space of recognition and surprise.
At the Musee d’Orsay I sat with two sculptures, “L Age mur” (1897) and “Torse de Clotho” (1893) of Camille Claudel (1864-19430.) Her work is powerful, raw to the core. I have read books about her life, and have two movies produced about her life and work. I thought I had a good familiarity with her and her work. Until, I encountered these two pieces in person. For me personally, the encounter with her work was/is a powerful moment of insight into the risks a serious woman artist must navigate in this world. She and her work are with me always in new and different ways.
I spent two days in the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre meeting paintings old and new. Studying details and sitting with what my mentors had to teach me. The wonderful experience of being able to photograph details of paintings, write about them in my room at night and carry them back into the studio at home is a gift beyond measure and one I am treasuring more and more.
I left Paris by train and travelled to the town of s’Hertogenbosch in Holland. In this beautiful ancient town I met the the largest gathering of works by the medieval artist, Jheronimus Bosch (c. 1450 – 1516) ever shown.
In the beautiful Noordbrabaants Museum I experienced the works of a painter who died 500 years ago. Bosch’s painting are intricate jewels of focus and attention. I left speechless, wrapped in the mystery of the work. There was a resonance with the beauty of this Renaissance town that’s survived wars, invasions and bombings. Bosch’s original studio stands in the town center, holding the quiet dignity of a master painter who died 500 years ago.
Since my return I have spent a great deal of time working in the studio. Just before leaving for this pilgrimage I found out that I was invited for a month’s long residency at the CAMAC Centre in Marnay Sur Seine, France. I will be there for the month of September.