Normally, dreams are profoundly boring to anyone except to the one having them. But Marc Chagall provided strong evidence to the contrary. He infused dreamscapes with everyday life of the Russian countryside, and always tied to Jewish roots. There are flying goats and circus animals, trapeze artists and floating apparitions and lovers, naked women and minotaur-like dudes playing the violin. And there are also simple farm scenes and flower-filled still life portraits. But the color is what strikes the observer first. He seemed to have had a broad understanding of the richness of color and how it should be used. Picasso once said, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.” Blue horses, red villages rooftops, yellow skies, purple nights, and black, smokey war scenes. To me, it is the brilliance of the colors that represents the antithesis of the blah of life that constantly creeps in and kills inspiration and the natural human inclination for celebration. Chagall apparently considered the festivals and village events of his early life as important in his life, and he loved the spectacle of the circus (not with you on that one, Mr. Chagall).
I’ve grown to be suspicious and wary of nostalgia, of pining or longing for something. It often proves to be a crippling
weakness that usually serves no other purpose then to reinforce the perceived unhappiness of the moment. But we are human, and sometimes we simply would rather be somewhere else, and our dreams merely accentuate the memory. Few artist have ever been able to depict those dreams and sentimentality better than Chagall. It would be nice to pretend that my dreams in which I am flying carry as much significance as those of Chagall’s intertwined lovers, green horses, and angels hovering above village rooftops.
Chagall had a strong intellectual connection with poetry, and also built stained glass windows for cathedrals, painted the ceiling of the Paris Opera, molded sculptures and ceramics, designed murals and theatre sets (as well as costumes), and rare tapestries. At the Fundación Caja Madrid and Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, several of Chagall’s paintings and ceramics are temporarily on display, showcasing a collection of such disparate origins that it proves to be a rare opportunity to see so many all at once.
Exhibition open: 14 February to 20 May 2012, Tuesdays – Sundays, 10am – 7pm.
Fundación Caja Madrid (entrance: free)
Plaza San Martín 1
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (entrance: €6 – €8)
Paseo del Prado 8
Some shots of the cloudy day today in el barrio Cortes: