My fridge door holds a whole collection of ephemera…wee bits of flotsam and jetsam, each piece carrying little meaning for others, but huge meaning for me. It all takes the form of magnets, photographs, bits of writing and items that bring to light my relationships and the people I treasure. This morning, a postcard particularly stood out for me; on the back, a special message from Hollee on her journeys and on the front, a beautiful image, La Clairiere 1944 by Rene Magritte.
Magritte had survived a very unhappy period. Invaded by the Nazis in 1940, he fled his beloved Brussels and the woman he loved (Georgette). Returning in 1943 and experiencing a very dark personal period, Magritte overcame his sadness at the occupation of his home by spending a brief, but potent, period experimenting with the luminous and fruity palette of painters like Pierre Auguste Renoir. La Clairiere (The Clearing) is evocative of work coming from Magritte’s ‘Sunlit’ period. Something like fifty pictures were completed during this brief, but inspiring, period from 1940 to 1945.
From 1935 forward one can glance through the art history books and discover the huge reaction and agitation in artists. Artworks, with the coming of war and the spirit of domination, demonstrated huge shifts and experimentation world wide. We see this evidenced in a myriad of works including those produced by Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso and abstract expressionist, Oskar Kokoschka. Since university years, I have admired the work of Oskar Kokoschka and notice some of the same movement and expression in the work of contemporary, John Hartman.
Returning to the image…La Clairiere. While I can not find any analysis of this painting in my art books or on line, suffice it to say that the images captured are very symbolic for me. Most obvious, I suppose, is the image of the dove. Within our western culture, the dove is symbolic of peace. We see within the plants, the birth of a multitude of doves. The single point of interest has already taken flight. It feels as though peace arises from ‘the ordinary’, but the viewer is given the sense that it must be tended…watered…harvested. This sense of ‘giving birth’ or ‘nurturing’ is supported by the nest and the contents, three eggs. Here, I apply some of my Christian symbology…three; the triune God, the bread…the water of life and baptism. I would give anything to be able to speak with the artist. Wouldn’t we all like that? So, for me, there is a sense of the Eucharistic elements present to a landscape that smacks of ‘the garden’. While we are not present in the image, we are present through a sense of responsibility or engagement. The glass of water invites us, as does the bread. These fragile details (the eggs and nest, the bread, the glass) appear at the very forefront of the composition, causing a nurturing response and a sense of immediacy.
The shrubs read to be tobacco plants, a product that gave some sense of comfort and relief in the day and a plant that within first nations cultures represented a bartering tool as well as a gift. Today, tobacco continues to be a part of healing ceremonies and is incorporated into sweat lodges and other ceremonies.
I enjoy Saturday mornings…after my walk with Max, I can take time to pray, sip a coffee…look at a postcard.
I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
— Anne Rice