Five Bathers II 16%22 x 16%22

Richard Kooyman ‘Five Bathers’ 16″ x 16″ oil 2016


John Berger said that anyone passionate about painting “had to come to terms with the mystery, the achievement, the failure or the triumph of Paul Cézanne’s life’s work.”  I certainly did. I had to come to terms with his dark and strange early paintings. Paintings even he thought were not very good. Paintings that drove his long time encourager, Emile Zolla, over to Manet.

Cézanne never sold a painting to a patron until he was 35. Other artists mocked both him and his work.  But he persisted and by the time of his first retrospective in Paris in 1907: Exposition retrospective d’oeuves de Cézanne, a year after his death, he was the most famous painter of the age. He had become the painter every artist has to come to terms with.
It’s been said that you can read a Cézanne by what he had visual knowledge of. A delicate detail of a part of an apple was something the painter knew, another less defined area was something he was unsure of.  My ‘Five Bathers’ 16″ x 16″ while not an exact painterly reproduction is a physical copy of Cézanne’s original. Making a copy of a Cézanne painting  has not only been a way for me to understand Cézanne, but also to play with Eliot’s idea of changing history. Cézanne’s new ideas about painting changed the ideas of the past. Can rejuvenating an visual idea of Cézanne’s change the present?

“..the most satisfactory creations are those which like Piero’s and Cézanne’s remain ineloquent, mute, with no urgent communication to make, and no thoughts of rousing us with look and gesture. If they express anything it is character, essence, rather than monetary feeling or purpose. They manifest potentiality rather than activity. It is enough that they exist in themselves.”  Bernard Berenson

“All objects in this world have hidden meanings. All of them, I thought- people, animals, trees, stars- are hieroglyphics. Bravo, and also woe, to whoever begins to divine what they say and give them voice. The moment you see these objects, you fail to comprehend; you believe that they are just people, animals, trees, stars. It is only years later, much too late, that you approach the hidden meanings.”   Zorba the Greek