Sometimes an image will stay with me for quite a long time and pop out years later in a painting. In the case of “Reds” (which I just finished this week) this image recalls a visit to MOMA in New York City in January of 2015. I had gone up to see the special Matisse Cut-Outs show. I was not allowed to photograph in the galleries for this particular show, but of course couldn’t resist a few photos of the happy art lovers waiting on line to get in.
But it certainly put me in the mood for the Matisse room of the regular MOMA collection, and “The Red Studio” has always been one of my favorites there.
The room was not as crowded as it sometimes is. Maybe the Matisse lovers were in the special cut-outs exhibit.
But when I saw these three young girls, all in shades of pink…they just reinforced Matisse’s monochromatic palette filling his canvas and pushing out from the edges.
Whenever I would re-visit my favorite reference files of photos from museum visits, I would stop and linger with this one. It’s been tacked to the wall in my studio off and on for the past two years.
The figures seemed to mimic the happy floating objects in Matisse’s studio.
I wanted to keep the loose joy of the master work without directly falling into its style. But, these three figures really are simply a perfect extension of the composition.
Reds are tough. And Matisse’s red is such a specific shade, which I actually felt I could never quite capture, although I layered it many times trying.
But the sense of vibrancy and movement is there, and extends into the surrounding room. How can anyone not be happy in the presence of a Matisse.
“Reds”, oil on linen, 30″ x 24″