In Chicago, a comprehensive survey of the art of Paul Cezanne

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Chicago — For some time, I thought I saw a person hiding in one of the most rigorous watercolor paintings in a spectacular study of Paul Cézanne’s extraordinary career at the Art Institute of Chicago. The small mysterious painting “Road in Provence”, created around 1885, is as spare as a haiku, retreating the sky, trees and roads far away with minimal gestures. Seen again, from a distance, it seemed to suggest that the naked body sitting cross-legged on the ground, the headless torso, and the limbs were firmly rooted in the earth.

It’s no wonder that Cezanne invites what is technically known as Pareidolia, who tends to read patterns and interpret visual stimuli, even if they have no intentional meaning. This is what we do when we lie on our backs and watch the clouds form a castle in the sky, which is inevitable when we see some of Cezanne’s most daring works.

Through this comprehensive exhibition, which is the first major overview of painters in North America for more than a quarter of a century, viewers will be able to offer viewers even paintings without any doubt about what Cezanne is painting. You can be amazed at how little information you have. Day and weather. And how often that information appears to violate the most basic rules of visual representation. Of course, there are the famous distortions to 3D space, misaligned table tops, and roughly slanted chair rails and moldings. And there are colored games. The white cloth is never white, but it seems to burn with the supernatural whiteness of a sheet that has been bleached and dried in the southern sun.

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However, the show, held at Tate Modern in London, is big enough to reveal an even greater sense of Cezanne’s radicality, with about 120 paintings, watercolors and drawings. In his most daring work, things always seem to bleed into something else, clothes and wallpaper mix, peasant men become aristocrats, the sky and the horizon invade each other, paint and paint. What is captured is captured in the marginal state of becoming and retreating.

One of the show’s most exciting juxtapositions is the still life of Cezanne and the depiction of Paul Gauguin’s painting in the background of “The Woman Before the Still Life of Cezanne” in 1890. Except that Cezanne isn’t really the background, nor is it clearly a painting hanging on the wall. Rather, it transforms into the space that Gauguin depicts, as if he wanted to evoke and emphasize this particular force of Cezanne and break the spiritual distinction between an object and its expression.

It’s amazing to know that this is the first major US Cezanne exhibition in over 20 years, as Cezanne seems to have existed so far. Praise to the artist, especially among painters, sometimes feels reflexive and makes it difficult to see his work anew. The Chicago exhibition foregrounds the usual excitement of Cezanne worshipers, especially his role and abstraction as a patron saint of the 20th century. The exhibition begins with a gallery of five landscapes depicting his work that depicts the arc of his career, and a room of images of women bathing, including “Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)” at the National Gallery in London. It ends with. For Picasso and Matisse (or perhaps to steal lightning).

But while there is always an affair and flight to Cezanne’s abstraction, and an invitation to Pareidolia, the show reminds us of how well the painter really was. An extensive exhibition of his still life, not only fruits and tableware, but also his family to a collection of very special bottles, vases and platters that look like his family dressed for a rustic game of charades. Emphasizes the almost obsessive dedication of. Keep an eye on the unfinished terracotta-based green jar. When relapsed in the “Still Life with a Ginger” in 1893-1894, its rough lower half is hidden by a decoratively placed melon. This feels like a kind of private joke, and the in-joke remains unreadable to anyone else, with the family laughing.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein has famously proposed the idea of ​​”family resemblance” to think through permanent philosophical issues. How do you know that one is similar to another when a single common feature does not link them. In fact, there can be multiple varying similarities and similarities. These cannot be defined or analyzed except to note that there may be family resemblance between things. This is a world where Cezanne seems to live, all apples can be radically different from their neighbors, there are all trees unique in serpentine dance in the shadows of the forest, but everything Definitely very similar and related to each other in a rebellious way.

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Family resemblance ideas capture something important about how we read paintings and images. Once you’re calm in interpreting the visual data, it’s almost impossible to disappear. As soon as he says, “He resembles his father,” his father’s face is imprinted on his son forever. As soon as you say “it’s an apple”, the cluster of brushstrokes on the canvas remains an irreparable apple. Cezanne revisits us to experience and re-experience that important moment of announcing the declaration of what the heart has seen by drawing the same thing over and over, such as her beloved Montagne Sainte-Victoire and Ark Valley. I invite you. If we can somehow extend that moment and experience the turning point between uncertainty and certainty, we may learn to do something essential about the world, and to impose meaning on it.

That’s probably why Pareidolia is so intoxicating. Because it makes us aware of how poor and fantasy the evidence we use to solve the world into meaningful pictures. Also, I am excited to be able to communicate with other people. You might think that the clouds look more like a dinosaur than the Krak des Chevaliers, but to explain my interpretation, the Syrian castle may look as clear as I do.

What is depicted in Cezanne’s paintings works more like clouds and pareidolias than in real photographs. And maybe it’s unbearably obvious that it repeats. But experiencing it over and over again is exciting. Now, outside my window, the tree was painted by Cezanne, and there is no way I can’t see it.

Cezanne Until September 5th at the Art Institute of Chicago until September 5th. artic.edu..

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