Autobiographical Mobile: My painting diary – Day 18: My Art and my Paris
I couldn’t be much more passionate about the second of my painted “favourite things” if I tried. The next metaphor of my life’s great loves to make it onto my latest large canvas – my Autobiographical Mobile – is Art, and Paris.
Paris was the city that made me who I am today. It started on a school trip, when my teacher led me, her hands covering my eyes, into the Place du Tertre atop the Butte de Montmartre, and quickly uncovering them, revealed a scene of such lavish character, such indubitable gyrating ecstatic energy and historical charm that I fell in love. My heart dropped to the cobbled paving beneath my feet, and has stayed in the heart of Montmartre, beating there ever since. Now, when I plug myself into the city on an almost annual basis, I cannot help but swarm mesmerised around the quaint streets, meander around the boutique-lined boulevards, and lounge like a flaneur outside the street cafes and in leafy parks, gazing in never-ending admiration at the beauty of the urban landscape around me.
With Paris came Art. For not only does the city ooze creativity from its every crack and surface, but it has also inspired some of the most illustrious artists in recent art history. As well as the slightly less illustrious ones, like me. While I had been painting for some years, the real turning point of my career, when I went from doodles and watercolours to large scale canvases, was when at the age of 16 I embarked on one of my greatest projects, and still my second biggest canvas ever, Le Paris Formidable.
Le Paris aimed to show my beloved Paris from various unusual standpoints, and one of my favourite images was my depiction of the Sacre Coeur, the church atop Montmartre, as a series of eggs in egg cups and split open lavishing the surrounding blue canvas with their eggy contents. The image spoke both of the architectural charisma of this multi-domed church, as well as the inherent fragility of a 21st century Catholic Church. In one dome in particular, a French baguette plunged into the waiting yolky contents like an egg soldier, but also the body of Christ, while his blood, the wine, was represented by the main dome upturned like a communion chalice.
The real thing…
In this new painting I have replicated the egg soldier image, but with some extra frills. Both parts of the egg, and the baguette, are connected to the mobile by what looks like rosary beads, but whose religious imagery is replaced by symbols of Paris – the iconic Eiffel Tower proclaiming that Art and Paris are my ultimate passion: My Religion.
I find it particularly satisfying to compare both this egg and the egg of my 16 year old self – a first great painting, when my untrained skills we still naive. My skills now (although still untrained) have improved, and I feel confident in my ability to better understand light and shadow and dimension so much better than 13 years ago. Yet the idea of my 16 year old self – the Sacre Coeur as eggs – is almost surprisingly impressive to me, innovation which my adult self may struggle to come up with, but which works so well now in this revolution of my art – art revisited for this autobiographical expression of my life, on canvas.
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