06 December 2020

Bonnard sketch's of 1917-18, surviving the war, outliving the chicken

I love these seemingly simple pencil drawings by Bonnard. A painter can ask; in a single one image, how does one juxtapose a soldier on a horse along side a military truck, possibly an ambulance? A pair of soldiers sitting on a stoop in front of a small shop? A cavalry soldier on a horse in the middle of a bombarded street? And ditto for a group of civilians standing in the ruins of their old neighbourhood?

They are all rendered with great sensitivity, but at the same time, they are also highly technical solutions to the problems of space and perspective which has haunted every artist until the arrival of Contemporary Art a few years back. Most important, is the element of humanity present. 

They are small jewels, these delicate things! I found them in a book years ago which I open up from time to time. Would perhaps a woman in front of her jewellery box feel the same joy before an evening out?

Remarkably, they are made with only a skinny lead pencil, and done perhaps inside a small drawing book. They surprise; exploding with a blooming chaos of wild lines, yet too, a clarity sharpened through the sniper's scope. 

Drawing, as mundane and unpretentious an act as cooking an omelette for one's dinner (et pourtant). Drawings live on, past the meal, outliving the chicken, and surviving the cook by several generations. This is Art after all.


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