I have always been intrigued by masks. I think a lot of artist's are, even Picasso. It is the mystery that surrounds the whole idea of a mask. It is incognito. It allows self-searching. The same as with poetry. It eliminates barriers. Every February will bring back wonderful memories of the Carnival in Venice which I attended a year ago, because I wanted to experience the whole spectacle of the carnival and masks etc. for future reference. I have been painting in Venice a few times and it is one of the places that you are most likely to fall in love with.
Soon after my return from the Carnival in 2006 I had to do a painting for an exhibition commemorating Rembrandt. I painted THE CARNIVAL BRIDE after Rembrandts painting of the Jewish bride.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, someone saw in this painting the picture of a Jewish father hanging a chain around the neck of his daughter on occasion of her wedding. Since then the painting has been called "The Jewish Bride".
The painting has also been referred to as that of Icaac and Rebecca (la fiancée juive). I was inspired to paint "The Carnaval Bride " after returning from the Carnival in Venice. The title of Rembrandts painting "The Jewish bride" cannot be the correct title at all. It is impossible to say that the girl was Jewish. It is not clear whether she is a bride at all. The man is not of an older generation, but her partner.
There must remain an uncertainty about the "The Carnaval bride" as well. As in the case of Rembrandts painting, this is not a normal painting of a couple. Nobody knows where the couple in the Carnaval bride comes from either. Rembrandt painted a masterpiece of love between two people. He is authoritative and protective, while she is shy and modest.
Although many tried to put names to the couple of Rembrandt, nothing fits and they had to be anonymous. Connecting to the atmosphere of secretiveness of couples during the Carnival and the almost mask like expression on the faces of the couple in Rembrandts painting, The Carnival Bride is indeed anonymous.
The richness of the gold and red of the couple's costumes, indicating a special event. The abundance of fabric and jewels of the Carnival also accentuating the specialness of this event. With Rembrandt it is also materials and textures as well as gestures and hidden messages that played a role in the rich diversity of his work.
By using glowing colours, the paint gives body to the richness of material and content of emotion, even that of lovers. Both characters are intimately linked to the painted surface. The union of the two lovers is visible through the material and the colour.
The accentuations of the hands are very obvious as this is often the instruments with which human emotions could be made tangible- a sensation made visible by gestures, enough to suggest that this union is both spiritual as well as physical. To see with the hands, each lover touches the other to tell him/her and verify his/hers presence, attention and fusion.
THE COLOUR OF TIME
When I returned from a painting trip in Venice a few years ago, I painted the colour of time in Paris. At that stage I was working at the Cité Internationale des Arts for a few months. I knew then that I will want to return in future to the Carnival and to Venice
In situations like this, it isn't only the landscape that is of interest, but the people surrounding you are always intriguing. What they are doing and the way you react towards them and yourself. We all loved the being outside in nature and I wanted to capture that very pleasurable moments of sharing with friends.
I wanted to build up a body of work, with the Carnival as inspiration, but there have been so many other inspirations competing, and commissions from galleries that I didn't satisfy this urge to explore the theme fully.
But I know that I will return to the theme of the mask in the future as I did in the past. One of the advantages of experiencing the world as an artist is that you can always go back into your memories and then being removed from the subject will be able to distance yourself from the mere reality and create better paintings.