Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Yellow Days

As in India, we were told, they have the Pink Days, we’re now having our Yellow Days—the five acacias along the driveway in full bloom, and their upstart offspring, mere slips slipping along the fence between our yard and the professor’s next door; and then (that long-ago then) the wash of yellow mustard weed washing the hillsides of their winter glum, transfiguring the rows of ascetic black crosses of the dormant vineyards.  The mustard weed washed my despair away back then, when I fled my winter confinement for the promises of life and wakening across the valley in the blue-tiled town named for wildcats.

I don’t think I own one single yellow shirt or skirt or sweater, not even socks.  And yet yellow has meant hope and freedom and promise to me, since that discovery of the mustard weed that distant January.  And it is radiance, pure and simple, in the paintings of Bonnard.

I love that “Bonnarding” has become a verb tense, meaning wandering around and adding yellow to paintings.

"Sometimes, having mixed one of his burning hues . . . and applied it to the work in progress, he would wander around the house from canvas to canvas, finding little places where he could insert what he had left over.’  Bonnard was also known to retouch his work even after it had left his possession:  ‘I always carry in my pocket a little box with some colours ready in it.  When I come across one of my canvases that displeases me, out comes my little box, and I fix it.’  In the most famous yarn of all, the artist once persuaded Vuillard to distract a guard at the Musée Luxembourg, while he surreptitiously reworked a painting that had been hanging there for several years."

image:  Pierre Bonnard, Bouquet de mimosas

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