Stunned by a bath

Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in Blog, Inspiration | 2 Comments

There’s a good article in the autumn issue of the RA magazine (which is mainly about the Abstract Expressionism exhibition.now showing there) which is all about how to be when you go to look at art. The writer suggests that knowing Mindfulness. could help!  Her description of the first time she saw a Robert Motherwell work reminded me of the first ever art exhibition I saw. 

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Piere Bonnard

I was 18, new to London and to all but awful school art. The big posters all down that side of Piccadilly outside the RA announced Pierre Bonnard.  I’d never heard of him and the exhibition proved to be the ideal way of being introduced.

It was stunning.  I suppose I wandered round in a daze.  The paintings I saw were of many baths with a nude woman lying in the water.  I remember looking down the steep side of a bath, right in the foreground, and the silent withdrawn figure at the bottom in shade. Beyond that separate hollow the steamy sunlight lit bright tiles, or a robe thrown on a chair, a rug near the foot of the bath, all soaked  in colour.

I thought ‘You can do anything!   You can paint what you like!’

I can’t remember what else I felt. Nothing special most likely. But how did it make me feel?  What traces did those speech-silencing paintings leave in the recesses of my mind, what  loves and needs were implanted?  That’s what matters. What was formed?

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Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947

The Bath 1925 Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947 Presented by Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill through the Contemporary Art Society 1930 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N04495

The Bath 1925 Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947 Presented by Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill through the Contemporary Art Society 1930 © Tate Gallery

2 Comments

  1. Alex Austin
    November 24, 2016

    Love the blog and found it thought provoking: is it what art communicates that makes paintings unique.

    Love the colour s and perspectives in the Bonnard paintings.

  2. philippa radon
    January 3, 2017

    I love both the blog posts – and hope to read more this year – a wonderful refreshing and inspirational perspective on art, life and the need for creativity.

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