|Still life without a mandoline (after Matisse after de Heem).|
Work in progress, 20"x20", oil on canvas
I've suspected for some time that, in order to understand Matisse properly, I will have to repeat his endeavor in some way or another, probably taking another Flemish or Dutch still life as my anchor point. I will probably do it later on, but for now, I recalled that I have a series of three 2009 still lifes which I can try and use to explore Matisse's ideas and intent, using them as "underpaintings" for my reworks. Not that the process itself is new to me, but this time, I thought, I would consciously try to understand Matisse, not just to rework a painting...
|Still life with lemons and pears. 2009.|
To remind you what I mean, and to show to which extent I have succeeded, here are black-and-white slightly posterized versions of both the original and the rework:
If in the original the highest value contrasts, and most value variations, are located within the objects, now they have moved outwards, simplifying the objects but adding complexity and openness to the overall structure of the picture plane. It is a movement in the "right" (that is, Matisse-determined) direction, but nowhere as strong as in Matisse's rework of de Heem's still life. Just see for yourself a similar juxtaposition of their paintings:
Of course, some of the difference is due to the fact that de Heem's original has a clearer value structure than mine, and much darker background. But it is also clear that Matisse went much, much further on the path of splitting this structure than I did in my today's rework. And so, tomorrow, I will try and follow him on this path...