‘My age and my health will never allow me to realise the artistic dream I have pursued all my life. But I shall always be grateful to the audience of intelligent art lovers who have sensed what I was trying to do to renew my art, in spite of my halting attempts…In my opinion, one does not replace the past, one only adds a new link. With painter’s temperament and an artistic ideal, that is to say a conception of nature, there should be sufficient means of expression to be intelligible to the general public and to occupy a suitable rank in the history of art’.
|EOS Cézanne - Phil Grabsky at Portraits de Cézanne exhibition ® EXHIBITION ON SCREEN (David Bickerstaff)|
The decision having been made to make the film I set about the research in earnest. Here I declare a healthy dose of good fortune. The author Alex Danchev had only recently written both a new biography and a new translation of many of Cézanne’s letters. Those of you who have read my earlier blogs will know I always try to start a new biographical film in what I consider the obvious place - the artist’s correspondence. That’s exactly what I did here – and, as ever, the man that emerges differs from the preconceptions that we have built up previously. In the course of making films about other artists of this period I think I had accumulated superficial ideas concerning Cézanne and his ill-tempered nature, his poor personal presentation, his reclusiveness in Provence. Even though I had made a short film about him back in the 90s I admit to still having had those attitudes towards Cézanne. Until I read the letters, until I read the new biography, until I spoke to the curators and until I saw the plans and pictures for the exhibition. Then I realised there was, of course, so much more to this man.
Aix, 3 August 1906I get up early and it’s only really between five and eight that I can lead my own life. By the time the heat becomes stupefying, and saps the brain so much that I can’t even think of painting.
I caught bronchitis, I’ve abandoned homeopathy for old-fashioned mixed syrups.It’s a shame that I can’t give many demonstrations of my ideas and sensations, long live the Goncourts, Pissarro, and all those who have a propensity for colour, which represents light and air.
I know that with the terrible heat you and maman will be tired; so its good thing that you were both able to get back to Paris in time to find yourselves in a less burning atmosphere.I must remind you not to forget the slippers, the ones I have are just about giving up on me.
|EOS Cézanne - Phil Grabsky filming Monique at Mont Saint-Victoire ® EXHIBITION ON SCREEN (David Bickerstaff)|