Thursday, 14 May 2009

Odilon Redon - Flower Clouds

"My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined."

Flower Clouds, 1903,Pastel, with touches of stumping, incising, and brushwork, on blue-gray wove paper with multi-colored fibers altered to tan, perimeter mounted to cardboard

Redon alternated layers of pastel with sprayed fixative, wiping or brushing the pastels into each other to develop rich, velvety surfaces. The entire background of "Flower Clouds" is composed of striations and brush strokes of pastel. Once he fixed these passages, Redon further manipulated them with a brush to uncover the underlying pastel colors.

Another quote from the artist...

"I have often, as an exercise and as a sustenance, painted before an object down to the smallest accidents of its visual appearance; but the day left me sad and with an unsatiated thirst. The next day I let the other source run, that of imagination, through the recollection of the forms and I was then reassured and appeased."

And here's what the great author of À rebours, Joris-Karl Huysmans thought of Redon:

"Those were the pictures bearing the signature: Odilon Redon. They held, between their gold-edged frames of unpolished pearwood, undreamed-of images: a Merovingian-type head, resting upon a cup; a bearded man, reminiscent both of a Buddhist priest and a public orator, touching an enormous cannon-ball with his finger; a spider with a human face lodged in the centre of its body. Then there were charcoal sketches which delved even deeper into the terrors of fever-ridden dreams. Here, on an enormous die, a melancholy eyelid winked; over there stretched dry and arid landscapes, calcinated plains, heaving and quaking ground, where volcanos erupted into rebellious clouds, under foul and murky skies; sometimes the subjects seemed to have been taken from the nightmarish dreams of science, and hark back to prehistoric times; monstrous flora bloomed on the rocks; everywhere, in among the erratic blocks and glacial mud, were figures whose simian appearance--heavy jawbone, protruding brows, receding forehead, and flattened skull top--recalled the ancestral head, the head of the first Quaternary Period, the head of man when he was still fructivorous and without speech, the contemporary of the mammoth, of the rhinoceros with septate nostrils, and of the giant bear. These drawings defied classification; unheeding, for the most part, of the limitations of painting, they ushered in a very special type of the fantastic, one born of sickness and delirium."

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