12 September, 2010

Palais Royal

Les Journees du Patrimoine arrive soon after the back to school rush of la rentree. Come mid September secret gardens are opened and the public is invited to peek behind doors that remain closed the other 363 days of the year. As if a genie has granted an open sesame in Paris, many of the majestic old estates, hotels particuliers, and public buildings like the Palais Royal invite the public within to share in the patrimonial richness.

The lavish state rooms of the Palais Royal which once upon a time was the residence of Louis XIV now serve as constitutional and cultural office space. I relished details Bonaparte left behind like golden fingerprints and Henri Martin’s oil painting Agriculture, Commerce, Industry, Intellectual Work that the four walls of the General Assembly room wear.

To choose wisely which line you’ll stand in come the weekend of the 17th-18th of September visit the Jounees du Patrimoine site to consider your options. Here is what’s on offer in Paris.
Inside the Palais de l'Elysee - Chez Sarkozy
A glimpse into President Nicholas Sarkozy and his model/musician/wife Carla Bruni’s home.

Inside the Palais d l’Elysee on les Jounees du Patrimoine the line snaked through gilded sitting rooms with french doors onto the sprawling green presidential lawn, and never ending stretches of table offered places for phantom dignitaries in the state room. Inside the salle des fetes the table was set with the Republique Francaise monogram china and goblets. Cranberry velvet curtains, tapistry patterned carpet and heaping sprays of roses or sunflowers rounded out the royal atmosphere.

05 July, 2010

pompidou dreamlands

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28 April, 2010

Edvard Munch – The Anti-Scream
Munch was an artist inspired by literature and poetry but drawn to macabre moments of illness and death. The women wear ghoulish expressions, looking out from dark recesses of eyes where circles traced and retraced wear deep into the paper.  
He painted alfresco amid the fjords and hills, mirror-like reflections in bodies of water later replaced with violent brushstrokes and buildings like cages when alcohol became his muse. Layer upon layer of each painting was a beginning from which coats were removed attributing a superimposed quality is to his work.

The Pinacotheque, caddy corner from the Madeline, is exhibiting Edward Munch’s oil paintings and wood gravure prints until July 18th.

19 April, 2010

They Dance

I haven’t stopped since last Friday when Femi Kuti and the Positive Force performed in St Germain en Laye. For a week I’ve been dancing around my living room to the jazzy Afro beat. When a concert really sinks in by the end everyone is moving together, driven by the force of the music. And the waves that pulsed through the crowd are summoned even now as I listen.

When the Positive Force took the stage at the cozy black-box venue of La Clef they started slow letting the audience warm up with them. People are reserved in France, at restaurants they speak in whispers to avoid disturbing surrounding tables so it goes without saying they don’t dance much. Instead, when the music really speaks to them heads bob or feet are tapped to keep the time, however, they refrain from engaging shoulders or rears for fear of looking ridiculous.

The horn, guitar and keyboard players dressed in matching pastel polyester resembled a 70’s Caribbean band while the three ample-figured women singing back-up were clothed in tribal skirts of fringe, black of skin peeking out from sashes of bead and faces painted in dots and lines. Slowly led into the rhythm by their undulations to even the jazziest of birdsong the crowd was enticed to move.

When he laid down his horn and sung a sermon unfolded, of presidents with too much power, of the riches of Africa, of happiness. And why weren’t we happy in France, he wanted to know, always on strike. When the power was taken away from the kings we shouldn’t have stopped in our country because those same men still prevail in Africa today. “I want you to do something for me. I want you to do something for yourself. You better ask yourself why the richest continent get the poorest of the people,” he sang. “Al-la-la-la-la,” the call and the response.

I revelled in it all. Sometimes, in moments under wide blue of sky listening to the music of tree branch waverings I declare nature my church, but it was the music that spoke to me that night. He raised his voice and kept time with a hand that pumped fast as a piston. The climax of the night before the lights went down Beng, Beng, Beng. “She said love me, don’t stop. Don’t move too slow.” And we didn’t danced to a frenzy.

31 January, 2010

James Ensor 1850-1949 Belgium

He didn’t enjoy comparisons to the Impressionists seeing his Expressionism as aloof, but thick slathers of beige sky framed seascapes that court the same distortion of line present in their work.

Canvases that mark the pinnacle of Ensor’s career: the macabre scenes of masked personages and skeletons represent an exaggerated reality of vanity and absurdity. They wore delirious expressions like the absinthe drunk of Lautrec and Van Gough’s canvases that radiate green and reminded me of the Grateful Dead’s album covers, all skulls and roses.

The masks, double edged, present one image when another lies underneath. In this incarnation his ego was protected from the criticism that wounded him. “I like these masks because they offended the public who received me so badly.”

I sympathised with his inability to take criticism. We are so quick to judge. Isn’t it enough to just have painted or written something for yourself?

24 January, 2010

Erik Truffaz & Sly Johnson's - Sunday Afternoon Jam

In comfy theater seats on a winter's afternoon we watched as they wove a web of music. Traffaz's trumpet echoing Miles and the acid jazz of the 70's. Philippe Garcia laying down dub beats that changed everything. Layers upon layers, differnet loops were incorporated. Then Sly Johnson would begin and break the trance beboxing, singing soulful verses and scratching records in his mouth. Sunday bliss!!