Last year when I started to move up in scale in my work I began to use paper cut-outs as a way to reshuffel/rearrange my compositions. I was searching for different ways to make lines and shapes in my work and this was one method I began to use. I remembered seeing Matisses large cut-outs a few years previous as well a video of him creating these works with a large awkward looking scissors. Using my eye as a guide I found myself cutting out squares, triangles and stripes into approximations of the size and shape I wanted. Looking at this show highlighted and reminded me how so many of the methods and usually the most effective methods we use as artists are closely associated with play and this is something that has always been present in Matisses work.There is a temporary feeling to his cut-outs that I would like to also have in my paintings.The viewer might feel the urge or ability to re-align my shapes into a more perfect or imperfect order.I want to challenge the viewer by having them question how and why something is done.
Henri Matisse, The Cut-Outs
The Tate Modern
London, United Kingdom
Oceania, The Sky 1946
All the work in this show is very meta as Matisse is showing us and forcing us to discuse his process. You can see his process of improvisation, his pins used in reshuffeling and the trace of the mark made by the scissors. There is a sensitivity to his work which can be lost when it is reproduced in print or when it is photographed. I especially liked the way the cutouts are not flat or opaque surfaces. You can see the brush strokes made during the priming process. Matisse was not always sure when he started something what the original inspiration was or where it came from like Oceania, The Sky 1946. Sometimes things in art start by solving a problem but lead us into our deepest memories. Matisse seemed to understand this very well.
The The Bees Summer 1948 which was a preliminary maquette for the side window of a chapel is a wondefull example of how Matiise would often try to push the image forward while pulling other elements back. In the previous room to this piece you had boxes of coloured shapes and colour test pieces and I couldnt help but wonder if while observing these did they inspire Matisse to evolve and simplify his subjest and method. The later works in this show tended to be lacking in familiar narrative such as an object or a figure. I found that with these works I was more able to relax and appreciate the irregular shapes, the receeding spaces,the ruff edges and the challenge to my psyche of what art is and why does it matter.
The Bees Summer 1948
I felt the Snail 1953 managed to combine all the best elements shown previously in the show while also dealing with the white backround in a more effective way. In this piece he uses an orange border allowing the white backround to receed creating an internal and external space. You feel that the shapes are still rotating/moving or that you could just lean in and peel them off rearranging them at your will. Whats most interesting about this piece is that even with all this perceived attempt at order he has left us one huge question. Why is there one irregular shape on the purple in the top left hand corner? Matisse called this type of work abstraction rooted in reality but was this iregular mark on the purple his way of telling us that there is no real order here,just playfull improvisation based on his own life experience.