Aquarella 2006, an Art exhibition dedicated to Watercolours in Paris, France

Aquarella 2006On September 10, 2006 an exhibition will take place in Rueil Malmaison, 10 km west of Paris. The artists who will be present will also be able to demonstrate how they paint their watercolours in front of the public. I will be present and I will have a booth.

Do click the thumbnail to enlarge the poster of the exhibition.

Paintings of London: Mallarmé’s ‘Apparition’

The Apparition by Stephane Mallarme

I am a true Londoner at heart. I lived there four years, but my heart has always resided in London. To a certain extent, you might still be able to find it there, tucked in the corner of Brook mews north and the Craven Road, unless you find it in that dainty cul-de-sac of a street named Pembroke Mews. This painting was performed in 1994. It is not only an illustration of Mallarmé’s poem but also a poetical representation of the London and England I love so much. Mallarmé – like Beaudelaire – had grown a passion for Edgar Allan Poe’s prose and poetry. He even decided to learn the English language to be able to read Poe in the text and eventually became a teacher of English (although he resented his job).

His poetry is extremely difficult to understand for it doesn’t really follow the logic of the language but rather invents one of its own. Many references are made to his own life and personal experience, like in Brise Marine where he describes his frustration as a young father who can’t really cope with his newborn baby.

The Apparition describes Mallarmé’s unexpected encounter with a beautiful lady in London.
I have nonetheless tried to provide a translation of the poem:

English Translation

And the moon was overcome with sorrow
Weeping cherubs were dreaming, bow in hand
They played their dying viols, quiet vaporous flowers around them
Their music shed white tears on the sky-blue petals

That was the sacred day of our first kiss
And I became martyr to my own dreams
The dreams which fed on that twinge of sadness
Which, even without regrets or mishaps, drives
a dream back home to the heart from where it once sprang

Here I was, wandering, with my eyes riveted on the ancient cobbles
When with sunshine in your hair, in the street, you appeared
And I thought I could see the fairy with a hat of light
That once visited my beautiful spoiled childhood’s slumbers
And from whose ever opened hands
White bunches of scented stars kept snowing in

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Paintings of Paris: Les Bouffes du Nord

Les Bouffes du NOrd

Les Bouffes du Nord is a theatre in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. It is an old theatre which was reopened by director Peter Brook in 1974. Les Bouffes du Nord is an amazing theatre. It was opened in 1876 and the beginnings were not very successful. The theatre was too far remote from the centre and the poshest areas of town. In 1952, it was declared too old and derelict and the owners had to close it down. Fortunately, in 1974 Peter Brook took over and decided to rehabilitate the old building. It is now a fascinating place famous for the accessibility of its stage to the public. The front row can even sit down on the ground on cushions. In this painting I decided to paint the balconies and the spectators. I might paint another one later on showing the stage and the amazing atmosphere. I love this theatre which is now located in a poor area north of the city, mostly inhabited by Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. Small restaurants around with delicious and devilishly hot Sri Lankan food and strange bread in the shape of conical hats.

St Dominique

Saint Domonique

Saint Dominique is a Catholic church in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. What is most surprising about this church is the above statues which was deliberately carved after the likeness of French 1930’s actor Louis Jouvet. The Church is a mock bizantine church made of concrete and artificial stone. Its construction was started in 1914 and stopped because of World War I. It was resumed in 1921. The Jouvet bas-relief was added in the 1940’s. An aerial view of the church can be seen on Google Maps by clicking here.

Villennes sur Seine

Mutilated trees in Vilennes

Villennes sur Seine is a small town in the west of Paris on the river Seine. I painted that watercolour after a stroll by the river. It strikes me that trees are usually pollarded (that is to say “cut to trunk in order to a tree cut back to the trunk to promote the growth of a dense head of foliage” – Webster dictionary). The best example of pollarded trees in the UK is to be found in the amazing and beautiful ancient forest of Burnham Beeches in the west of London, near Uxbridge (Middx.) I shall make a reconstructed painting of Burnham beeches one day.

Jean Prouvé’s meridienne shelter in the Paris Observatory gardens

Jean Prouvé - Meridienne Shelter in Paris Observatory Gardens

I have just begun a new series of sketches and illustrations depicting my surroundings in Paris’ fourteenth arrondissement. To a certain extent, it is a follow-up on what I used to do 10 years ago in London when I was living in Brook Mews North. The latest picture from that series is the one depicting the Meridienne shelter, a building by the famous architect Jean Prouvé (1901-1984), who developed not only new designs but also new ways of producing new buildings.