29 July 2021

In the shadow of Cézanne, beauty is still difficult

Jannina, Prince street, New York, 1983, oil on canvas, 40 X 40 cm

I recently found this portrait in a pile of old paintings from France. I threw it up on Instagram for the fun of it and to my surprise it was a big hit among friends and distant fans. 

She was a friend who sat for me one winter day. Although it was started with a wash of oil, it's apparent that I left it in its early state because even by then everything was already in it. 

I understand that it screams of Cézanne, as if I were making a watercolour after him. I didn't think too much of it for a long time so it kicked around various studios I have had over the years. But today, I see that despite all that 'Cézanne business', it possesses a remarkable presence of expression. Jannina was, and still is, a very beautiful woman. It's a beauty which I always find difficult working from but fortunately, she had a dose of sadness too, which allowed me a way in. 

So despite that it is haunted by Cézanne, I like it anyway because, after all, his influence over me loomed large in those early years in France, but also later too for a time.

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