Fun project and end of the year indulgence for no one else but the artist. So liberating! I know, I know, we are supposed to always do that, but exterior influences and worries do intrude our decisions, whether we like it or not. So, I say, artist, make a piece once in a while that pleases you! Throw away inhibitions, formal and practical, and make a piece that you would not under normal circumstances. Free yourself, free the art!
Today I’d like to write about one of my favourite painters. I must have been 12 when I first saw his large sized paintings. They made quite an impact on me.
Csontváry (1853-1919), was born in Hungary the same year as Van Gogh, had a similar life, and as a painter was his equal (in my opinion). Unfortunately his contemporaries did not understand the symbolism of his vision. He was a loner and a schizophrenic.
Oil on canvas, 67 x 39,5 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
At the age of 27 Csontváry had a vision. A voice told him he was going to become the biggest sunway painter (in his words), bigger than Raffaello. Nobody knows what he meant by “sunway”. He worked for more than 10 years as a pharmacist to make enough money to support himself as a painter. He was 41 when he set out for Paris, but like Van Gogh, didn’t stay long at the Academy. Like Gauguin, he yearned for something pure and simple, but he found the exotic in the people and nature of the Middle East.
Oil on canvas, 59,5 x 45 cm
Herman Ottó Museum, Miskolc
Csontváry painted thousand year old cedars in Lebanon, this one here is one of the best, titled “The Solitary Cedar”. The tree personifies him, the lonely artist, misunderstood and ridiculed by many. The sheer size of this canvas, and the incredibly vibrant colours left me breathless and speechless. I felt small and insignificant, overpowered by his art.
The Solitary Cedar
Oil on canvas, 194 x 248 cm
Janus Pannonius Museum, Pécs
He held about three exhibits in his lifetime, largely ignored by the public and the press. He probably never sold a painting. Because of lack of success and loneliness he slowly descended into mental illness and was unable to paint another painting.
Oil on canvas, 385 x 714,5 cm
Janus Pannonius Museum, Pécs (loan)
After his death he remained unknown for a very long time due to most of his work being owned by a private collector. Today his collection is exhibited in national galleries in Hungary.
Pilgrimage to the Cedars in Lebanon
Oil on canvas, 200 x 205 cm
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
When I first started taking pottery classes, and became interested in handbuilding, my teacher showed me a book about the art of Georges Jeanclos (1933-1997), a French ceramist. I still remember the moment I opened the book, his art was speaking to me. And we all know that although we admire some art more than other, art that moves us, shakes us, lifts us up is rare.
I am saddened by the fact there is no webpage dedicated to Jeanclos and there aren’t many images of his sculptures available on the net. He was one of France’s most respected artists in his lifetime afterall.
Jeanclos’ works consist mostly of unglazed grey terra cotta figures. He seems to be obsessed with death. His “Kamakura” series is inspired by a shrine he visited in Kamakura, Japan, dedicated to stillborn/unborn children, commemorated by rows of grey statuettes. http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/jizo1.shtml (you need to scroll down a bit).
His “Kamakuras” are figurative sculptures with Buddha-like slip cast head, and are always wrapped in thin layers of peeling, cracked, clothlike clay.
The death of his father affected him deeply. He produced a number of urns, with even more tightly wrapped clothing around the figure. The figures appear peaceful, contemplative, accepting their fate.
Jenclos’ art is quiet but powerful.
Here you can see more of his works: