Wednesday, June 07, 2006

from Pierrerue: the thrill of color

My neighbors across the alley are artists. She paints, he sculpts. They aren’t the first northern French types to have settled here, in the south of France because of its climate, its light and its colors.

One hundred and one years ago another painter did the same and he brought with him a bunch of others and before you knew it, you had a movement. I am thinking of Matisse and the Fauves and their love of the light and colors of the small Mediterranean port of Collioure.

I am a fan of Matisse and the vibrant colors used by the Fauves, even if they did sort of displace my adored Impressionists who came before them. I mean, I do get that painters (people?) have to put forth new ideas through their art (their life?) and that to propose something new, you sometimes have to throw some punches at the old stuff.

My neighbor dabbles in the Fauve style. She says it is extremely difficult, but I think she is just saying that because I offered to take off her hands the wonderful little painting she did of Roquebrun and she is hesitating to part with it, claiming that great toil and sweat went into doing it. Perhpas. I do not argue with toil and sweat.

Yesterday, I went to Collioure, perhaps to get my fill of Fauve-like colors and perhaps to demonstrate to my neighbor, the artist, my deep appreciation for the Fauve style of painting. I am trying to stay in good with the artist couple, not only because of the painting issue, but because whispers of letting me stay in their beautiful little over-the-garage apartment next summer have been floating about and I want those whispers to become shouts and promises.

It’s a bit of a drive, as Collioure is just at the Spanish border. Even hopping onto the 80-plus mile per hour superhighway for a short stretch does not reduce the driving time much. It’s easily two hours each way. But, oh, am I glad I went.

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Of course, tourism is a big thing there now, but we are still in the early days of June and so the cafes are less crowded and the little beaches have only a small number of bathers – enough to provide people watching opportunities, but not enough to make the pebbly bays appear overrun by humankind.

The cafes spill out onto the beaches and I have to think that they are, later in the season, filled with foreign tourists who sit and count the number of women tanning their breasts just before them.

Here is one café that I especially liked as it seemed to require that you wear yellow and blue to sit on its yellow chairs underneath blue umbrellas.

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In the picture above, the woman in the denim skirt looks like she is eating jeune peche (yellow peach) ice cream. Fitting , given the color scheme.

I took a photo of where their gaze may have been directed to – or at least of one subject, a beach couple, clothed, but still doing the French thing.

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I also visited the tiny Museum of Modern Art here, but of course, all the great works of Matisse and Derain have been moved to Paris, which is understandable, but still a shame since they fit into this world of bright yellows, blues and reds.

Afterwards, I drove up the coast where the winds gust like crazy and provide yet another opportunity for French men to show off their athleticism. There is, not surprisingly, a popular wind surfing spot here and I watched for a while.

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…and no, I was not tempted. Frankly, I found the following much more appealing and I made a mental note to soon return to a beach just to sit and engage in the art of doing nothing.

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my speed