I neglected one Sunday's blogging but this past week has been very generous with gifts that I can share here.
I decided to give my working hand a rest - it had been screaming RSI (repetitive strain injury) at me - and what could be more therapeutic and relevant to me than Matisse's cut-outs? On my way to Tate Modern via the tube, I noticed a shoulder bag on an empty seat. Other passengers noticed it too but nobody did anything about it and a man absorbed in reading his newspaper almost sat on the bag, not bothering to move it. I had resolved to hand it in to Underground staff and when an empty seat next to it came up, I quickly put the bag on my lap, simultaneously saying loud and clear: "Somebody left this behind and it should be handed in." I must admit I was curious to know its contents and since nobody was paying any attention to me, I unzipped some of the bag's pockets. In one there was a handful of coasters from a pub and in the main compartment, a sophisticated video camera with various state-of-the art attachments. Did temptation whisper "Finders keepers"? Yes, it most certainly did, but since I already have a camcorder (though nothing like as posh) it took me less than twenty seconds to opt in favour of honesty. When I got off at Blackfriars station, I immediately gave the bag to an inspector standing by the turnstiles and the thoroughness of his questions suddenly made me aware that this wasn't just lost property but, possibly, a dangerous, even lethal object. It says something about our sense of security that I hadn't considered this before and neither, apparently, did any of my fellow passengers.
Feeling virtuous and relieved, off I went to my rendez-vous with Matisse via the Millenium Bridge. I hate the egocentric protuberances (especially the Shard, not shown in this photo) aggressively pushing themselves above the old London skyline but under a sky like this, I temporarily forgave them.
Below: looking back towards St.Paul while crossing the bridge towards Tate Modern on the opposite bank.
This recently opened exhibition is one I've been looking forward to. I love Matisse, not so much for his paintings but for his line drawings and cut-outs, especially JAZZ, a chef d'oeuvre in the livre d'artiste genre and very well represented in this beautifully designed show. Brief film clips are included: Matisse wielding big tailor's scissors into the yielding, fragile body of hand-coloured paper, showing him at his most child-like yet confidently masterful, having found what he called his "second life" in old age despite serious illness. Those who assert that creative innovation only happens to the young haven't looked at Matisse's end-of-life cut-outs: proof of the agelessness of creativity, if proof is needed.
My translation of this page and the next one (not shown):
To arrive = Prison, and the artist must never be prisoner. Prisoner? An artist must never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, prisoner of a success, etc. Didn't the Goncourts write that Japanese artists of the great period used to change their names several times during their lives. I like this: they wanted to safeguard their liberty.
Whilst looking at the pages of Matisse's hand-written text which accompanies the cut-outs in JAZZ I quickly snapped the photo below.The shadow of my own hand makes me feel that we are somehow communicating.
Last week gifted me with another experience of harmonious communication. Tom Kempton, the man behind the blog Gwynt - an uncompromisingly honest and consistent personal search for profound spiritual truth - was briefly in London and came to visit me. Tom is married to Lucy, of the brilliant Box Elder, but one of them has to stay home in Brittany to look after ailing Molly, their beloved dog, so I'm hoping to meet the real life Lucy on another occasion.
People who can talk about their inner life without being either egotistical or boring, and who can also listen attentively, are few and far between, at least in my experience. Tom is one of those rare people and so the time passed very quickly in meaningful conversation.