Tuesday, March 13, 2007


On another bright, sunny London day (I think this is the fourth day in a row?), I went to two exhibitions at the National Gallery, Manet to Picasso and Renoir Landscapes. I loved both of them. The first one was like a crash course in impressionism and beyond: There were pieces from Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cézanne, Sisley, Degas, Seurat, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Picasso (albeit with only one piece :) These painters no longer tried to imitate the world to the smallest detail (it was already done before), but they sought to capture the feeling, the impression someone gets when he sees the world. Think about it: When you look at a crowded square or a landscape, you cannot pay attention to every single detail of every object simultaneously. What you get is an overall impression, overall feeling.

Their world is beautiful, mellow, optimistic, full of soft, warm rays of light, soft, warm patches of shadow. I feel happy when I look at them, like I would in the country side, on the coast, in a picnic, in the first warm and sunny days of spring, in a crowded square in Paris. Renoir Landscapes were the most beautiful things I've seen in my entire life.

But then, they were at the right place, at the right time: The world they were looking at was beautiful. Their talent was to capture that feeling. The breeze isn't there, the air isn't there, the smells and the sounds aren't there, but these paintings still manage to give the feeling of joy and gratitude.

If what you see is ugly and you capture that, does that count as talent as well?

Then I stepped out of the National Gallery and stood on top of the stairs for a moment to look: the Trafalgar Square was there with its moving, mixing crowd, transparent pools, red buses,
the guy playing a strange violin, the buildings and the street leading up to the Big Ben, the different, sharper, more daring light of spring. Framed in the columns of the Gallery, it was a painting. It was so beautiful.

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