If the artist is alive in you, you may meet Greco nearer than many people, also Plato, Shakespeare, the Greeks

That was true for my meeting Paul Cézanne.  The artist in me was snoring softly when I arrived in Aix 11 years ago.  I was so busy with small children, setting up the housekeeping yet again, learning the language, trying to keep it all together, that my inner artist was practically in a coma.  It was a long trek back from that spiritual deep-freeze, and the gradual thaw was a spring flood by the centennial of Cézanne’s death.

 

2006 was the year of the Musée Granet’s reopening and commemorated with an expo “Cézanne in Provence.”  As a member of the museum association, I attended several guided tours and talks about the man and his life.  That’s how I became the poor cousin of the Brotherhood, accepting handouts from the masters, and investing them in every possible way.  For those of us aware enough to catch the crumbs from their table, life is a veritable feast.  Look at how much access to knowledge and understanding that we have through the internet, and the rise of touring exhibitions!

 

In certain books—some way in the first few paragraphs you know that you have met a brother.

 

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You pass people on the street, some are for you, some are not.

 

Have you ever done that, really looked at people as you pass?  Aix is a fascinating place for this.  Here is every nationality and social status, yet there is nothing new under the sun.  I suppose it’s one of those artist qualities, that when I look at a person, I can see behind the mask.

 

The strange part of that, and I’m only beginning to accept the deep and painful truth, is that most people would rather maintain the mask and have me see them for who they want to be, than to love them for who they really are.  It’s that life-long pursuit of "who you are is what you do."  Rubbish!  Who are you, really? 

 

Okay, so I’m struggling to trust that I will connect with some people, but not all.  I must respect those who feel safer behind the mask, even when they don’t know how to respect themselves.  However, I will continue to talk to the soul and not the shell, understanding that discomfort is threatening.

 

Is that what Henri means by the following?

 

Here is a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci.  I enter this sketch and I see him at work and in trouble and I meet him there.

 

I don’t see that Leonardo was ever ‘in trouble.’  What I see in his sketches, as in Cézanne’s are explorations, picking, tearing, stripping at our masks.

 

Ooh, look at what I found!

“That's what real love amounts to: letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending--performing. You get to love your pretence. It's true; we're locked in an image, an act.”

Jim Morrison said that, and

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on and individual level. It's got to happen inside first. You can take away a man's political freedom and you won't hurt him--unless you take away his freedom to feel. That can destroy him. That kind of freedom can't be granted. Nobody can win it for you.”  Jim Morrison

 

What do you Do?  What are you hiding behind?  Who are you REALLY?

 

 

Robert Henri's 'The Art Spirit' AIXcavated by Apryl

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