Friday, 9 May 2014

Preview Evening - Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

Last night saw a very special outing, a Tate Preview Evening of the Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs show, and what an absolutely ore inspiring, spectral, enlightening and fabulous evening and exhibition! It seems as Spring has sprung there is a wealth of incredible shows throughout London and this one, as all the reviews have stated, "Nothing can prepare you for the joyous brilliance – and scale – of Matisse's late, great work, 'proliferating from one gallery to the next like some super-abundant garden'..  from Laura Cummings of The Observer, to the "Tate Modern's super exhibition shows Matisse's cut-outs aren't just visual delights - but the product of painful searching and thought", says Richard Dorment of The Telegraph. The reviews are surely not a lie and this exhibition brings joy to many as you are pulled through the process of Matisse's making and presented with epic scaled pieces, for a young standing artist, as sure triumph, but lets remember Matisse was a growing old man, the persistence of this great artist is ore inspiring

There is so much to talk about with regards to this exhibition it is difficult to know where to start. But for me, what is imperative to mention is the curation of this show, it is spectacular. The moment you enter you are drawn into a film that shows the craftsmanship of this gentleman, the poetic, fluid motion of his cutting action, welding his tool, the scissor, in such a confident manner, as if they were just an extension of his fingers. His touch to paper, reminded me of Wolfgang Tillmans, the way in which these extraordinary artists let the light and air move the paper in a cinematic way, their hands providing the gentleness of intervention. From that moment on, you are visually experiencing his thought process through painted paper, cut, pinned and pasted.

There is an abundance of works on show, 120 that detail the periods of work between 1936 to 1954 and as you enter into the new rooms, you are hit with true beauty, striking colours, fluid shapes and the essence of the outside inside. Intermixed with the wealth of the visual there is a wonderful essence of Matisse in the rooms, as he words and traces are expressed through pieces and text. A very poignant quote that will stay with me for a while is, 
"removes their sensitivity," in reference to the published works of the Jazz publication and its inherent printing process. It surely talks of Walter Benjamin's idea of the Aura of the original work of art, against the notion of the the reproduction. For me this idea of the original is so paramount for visual engagement, its wonderful to hear such things from Matisse.

One of the most enjoyable elements of the exhibition was seeing the artist books that Matisse made, including his genius maquette of Jazz. This was mind-blowing, seeing the quality of the paper, the torn edges, the hand painted text, against the originals framed above, it was quite a sight to behold and for me, I can completely see why the publication was disappointing, a flatness that stamps out those creases, the mistakes, the lines found within the originals. Neither the less, this publication is stunning and along with the other covers he designed for his exhibitions, it only proves the resolve of this artist and how he truly was before his time.

As he said it himself, "By creating these coloured paper cut-outs, it seems to me that I am happily anticipating things to come. I don't think I have ever found such balance as I have in creating these paper cut-outs. But I know that it will only be much later that people realise to what extent the work I am doing today is in step with the future." Matisse.

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