How convenient it is to have definitions for everything. How comforting too, to know, or seem to know the what-why-how behind most things that surround us or make us. To have an instruction manual for a do-it-yourself, or even a pure white line of social conventions to tow. But this is what the "usual" side is made of, of a coin the other side of which reads "different".
To me, and particularly in art, "different" is a stimulus which challenges my brain's synapses into re-thinking and re-visiting all definitions which I have either imbibed or invented before the prick, pinch or as most like to call it, the spark of novelty brushes against my soul. It is the beginning of not just love then, but of an unending relationship with that art form.
In music, Jazz touched me for the "rebellion" that it stood for, and for ways it re-wrote its own notes in the book; pure noise to those who love it not enough. In Literature, the subjectivity of Modernism-Post Modernism made me reject reality itself as limited and limiting. And in painting, nothing has caught my eye as much as Impressionism did and the ripple-effect it had on other art forms, including on the love-of-my-life Literature.
Here, I show you some of my favourite pieces from this art movement which began in France, setting such unconventional precedents for things to come that in 1874, at the first exhibition of Impressionist paintings, most observers reacted with sneers. An expected reaction by the keepers of all things 'classic' but later made popular by those who welcome what I call "different".
Impressionism perpetuated the idea of painting 'sensory-impressions'. The artists worked mainly out of doors and in natural lighting, for a new aesthetic based on light and colour was being born. Sunbeams, shimmering radiance, elusive tricks of light and daring colour combinations were the ambiance in which the Impressionists bathe their landscapes and city views, their scenes from everyday life, and their still lifes and portraits. They (and the neo-impressionists who followed them) were revolutionaries and trail blazers: they opened the way to modern art.
I speak here of three important impressionist painters - Monet, Degas, and Renoir. All had their own unique way of conveying reality - Monet's landscapes, Degas's dancers and Renoir's portraits being their specialities.
~ Claude Monet ~
Monet succeeded in capturing fleeting impression neglected by his predecessors or deemed by them to be impossible to depict with a brush, by no longer merely painting the immobile and unchanging landscape but also the fleeting sensory impressions conveyed to him by its atmosphere and mood. Monet, thus, creates an incredibly powerful impression of the observed scene.
|View of the Tuileries Gardens
Notice the detachment from the factual world of stabilizing lines in favour of pure colour in the above picture.
|Poppy Field at Argenteuil
|Boulevard des Capucines
~ Edgar Degas ~
Degas was known for his preference for surprising perspectives, and that makes him one of the most interesting painters for me. He positioned his observer so close to the self-absorbed subjects, it was like a peeping Tom painting them.
|The Star/Dancer on Stage
~ Pierre-Auguste Renoir ~
Renoir was a celebrator of beauty, especially feminine sensuality. But I have picked here two paintings in keeping with the above-mentioned paintings.
|Venice Grand Canal
'Venice Grand Canal' is flooded with light. You can see it reflected on the water, the canal front and the cloud flecked sky. Look how they shimmer!
|Dance at the Moulin de la Galette
Renoir allowed himself to be carried away with the surroundings he found himself in. He lived around this cafe for six months, spoke to residents, and in the midst of it all produced the wild movements of this popular dance cafe. Notice how his figures softly fuse with one another and their surroundings.
No other style of painting comes as close to my idea of reality-fused-with-subjectivity as Impressionist Paintings do. By giving form to impressions, they give importance to the painter's thoughts and visions, even as they invite the on-lookers' ideas. A looking within and reflecting it without. As a person who has always enjoyed understanding not just various art forms but the minds behind them too, the paintings above speak to me at myriad levels. Interestingly, if you show me a photograph and then an impressionist painting, chances are I will find the latter more real. The fluidity, the motion in the water, the movement of bodies, the light and the flux that they signify is what reality is, isn't it? Changing and becoming all the time.
Post-Script: These are photographs of pictures of these paintings from a book called 'Impressionism' that I have. As Plato would say, four times removed from reality, before banishing me from his Republic. If it interests you despite the banishment, turn to Google for more. In the mean time, click on individual paintings for an enlarged view.
[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was - The artist’s eye - Is there a painting or sculpture you’re drawn to? What does it say to you? Describe the experience. (Or, if art doesn’t speak to you, tell us why.)]