Esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau

There are twenty-four hours in the day all making up the exact amount of minutes, sixty-per-hour to be exact. However, it is curious that some of these hours seem to fly by, not allowing us to complete specific tasks. It is during this time that we often say, “time flies”. Yet, on the opposite pole, there exists times when we feel an hour goes by so slowly that we wish it away. These creeping hours are universally agreed upon to be relegated to the occasions when we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back to sleep.

During these fitful hours nothing seems to agree. Our pillows are too flat or too thick, our sheets are too hot or too cold, and the room is too quiet or too noisy. The clock’s ticking or lit numbers seem too loud or too bright, and seem only remind to us that we should be asleep.

Twenty-four hours in the day may be the official count however, during unintentional times we are awake instead of sleeping, twenty –four hours seems interminable. rousseau image

Today’s blog brings to you the esteemed thinker: Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a self-taught French artist born in Laval, France. His nickname, “Le Douanier” (“the customs officer”) by his acquaintances in the Parisian avant-garde was given to him because of his occupation as a toll collector. During his life as an artist he was often ridiculed as not being good, and unlike his peers who profited by their art, Rousseau did not.
His style, often described as childlike and naïve, did in fact portray his subjects with bold colors and very personalized style. His style was never appreciated by the conservative art officials in Paris, yet he was able to find exhibitions that accepted his work to be shown.

It was contemporary artist friends such as Camille Pissarro who praised his direct approach. After his death in 1910, his work did influence other artists; from his friend Picasso to Max Ernst and the Surrealists.

And so, I bring you a most famous painting by “Le Douanier”, which envisions those set hours we call night….here is an oil on canvas titled “The Sleeping Gypsy” (1897).

rousseau_ sleeping gypsy

Second image: Henri Rousseau 1902 photomechanical print : photogravure

Paul Cézanne and what is reality

cezanne Self-portrait-1887 What is reality and what is our perspective of it; a perplexing question, indeed. Some may think of this as one’s point of view, some may think of it as one’s opinion, some may think of it as one’s judgment. Where fact meet, converge, and often collide can make quite a difference in how we look at ourselves and others.

An ordinary mirror in our homes or the dressing room of a clothing store can take on the eye of an opposing point of view or similar reaction. The mirror may agree with us, whereupon we feel quite content with our dress, or it may show us a rather disagreeable figure of ourselves and we become disgusted with the reflection it has imparted.
Reality of a view or landscape, such as a mountain range, may be met with appreciation of nature’s vestibules or it may be overlooked as an impedance in our journey.

Such is the task of the artist, to present to us a reality that is wholly personal or universal. Sometimes we connect with a painting, feeling that its presence is greater than the canvas it is painted on, and other times our perspective of it falls short and we pass it by with a mere shrug of detachment .

And so, as we go on with our day, we are confronted with the decisions of what is reality. For some it remains unimportant, and for others it is a daily search for truth.

Today’s blog brings back the esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), French artist whose work demonstrates mastery of design, color, and the transition from 19th century art to the 20th century. Renown all over the world, Cézanne is considered the father of modern painting.

In his artistic endeavor, I present to you his oil on canvas titled, Mont Sainte–Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley. Take a moment to look at his reality through your reality and see where they converge. It is worth a moment out of your hectic day.

Cezanne painting

First image: Cézanne Self-portrait, 1887

Esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne

chef_2 If there is one activity that seems to be enjoyed by both men and women, it is eating. Dining out has become a pastime that stirs everyone’s taste buds from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed. From breakfast to mid-night snacks food is our minds. Much of one’s morning drudgery at work is survivable by much collaboration with colleagues on where to go to lunch. Dates consist of a dinner out, while a get-together with friends at a sporting event first involves a well-executed tailgate party. Our time at the grocery store is extended by squeezing and smelling…to find just the right colored vegetables and fruits; reading ingredients on labels (that always need glasses to see), and making sure the fish at the seafood counter is “wild”.

The multitude of television programs that host reality shows with restaurant chefs, culinary hopefuls, and celebrity cooks who concoct dishes under bizarre circumstances illustrates our fascination with food. Travel shows that take us to places we cannot pronounce with hosts who eat things that challenge the stomach and palate have become ever more popular with armchair chefs. It is clear that the world has become enamored with food.

So with all this eating and cooking, why is it that when we come home from the grocery store and put away our purchases we seem to always open the refrigerator and say, “There is nothing good to eat!” Hmmmm, perhaps that’s why we head directly to the television…because there is always something delicious to virtually eat!

cezanne fruit still lifeToday’s blog brings you the esteemed thinker: Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) born in Aix-en-Provence, France, one of the most influential artist. Falling in the category of Post Impressionists, his painting inspired generations of artists having formed the bridge from late impressionist’s movement to the cubist movement. Much of his work seemed to ignore what was considered classical perspective, painting objects that allowed each item to be “independent within the space of a picture while the relationship of one object to another takes precedence over traditional single-point perspective.”

Having brought to you a great painter in today’s post we must look at his thoughts in a different way; for his ideas are to be interpreted not through words but rather transported by way of the medium he creates best, painting. And so I bring you an oil on canvas titled, Still Life with Jar, Cup, and Apples (1877) by the great Paul Cézanne. Take a virtual bite out of his work and enjoy!

First image: Chef in North Beach Italian restaurant. San Francisco, California, Photographer: Collier, John, Date Created: 1941 .

Esteemed thinker: Henri Bergson

Henri bergson Some of us remember our dreams, some of us don’t, while others choose not to; but when you awaken, if your memory allows you the luxury of recall, dreams are often presented in a disjointed and unintelligible jumble of ideas and scenes. And so, trying to explain your “sleep-time story” often translates into a laundry list of sound-bites making little sense in the light of day. For while you are in a dream you are producing… shall we say… a most peculiar movie, which follows a sequence of events and situations that go from “reel to reel” (or “REM to REM”) . So what is it that makes our dreams so odd, so weird, so incoherent? Some superstitions and ‘old wives tales’ make all kinds of proclamations with rather unscientific explanations regarding how one will dream. For example: sleeping with knives under your pillow will keep nightmares away, or eating garlic at dinner will guarantee bad dreams…does that mean nibbling cookies will grant us sweet dreams!

Today’s blog invites you to hear from our esteemed thinker: Henri Bergson (1859-1941). As a French philosopher, Bergson was highly acclaimed for rejecting the current trend of thinking, rationalism for intuition and experience. His influence on the 19th and early 20th thinkers crossed over the oceans and was embraced by greats such as French novelist Claude Simon, American Philosopher and psychologists William James, English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and American author and artist John Dos Passos. In 1927 Bergson won the Nobel Prize in literature.

dreamcatcher_cepia And so, let us take a moment to experience a bit of insight from his essay and work titled Dreams; allow Henri Bergson to reveal the source of our strange and often incoherent nightly visions…the dream.

“… The incoherence of the dream seems to me easy enough to explain. As it is characteristic of the dream not to demand a complete adjustment between the memory image and the sensation, but, on the contrary, to allow some play between them, very different memories can suit the same sensation. For example, there may be in the field of vision a green spot with white points. This might be a lawn spangled with white flowers. It might be a billiard-table with its balls. It might be a host of other things besides. These different memory images, all capable of utilizing the same sensation, chase after it. Sometimes they attain it, one after the other. And so the lawn becomes a billiard-table, and we watch these extraordinary transformations. Often it is at the same time, and altogether that these memory images join the sensation, and then the lawn will be a billiard-table. From this come those absurd dreams where an object remains as it is and at the same time becomes something else. As I have just said, the mind, confronted by these absurd visions, seeks an explanation and often thereby aggravates the incoherence…”