Ok ok… so it has come to this. I have to speak of Marc Chagall. Chagall is a rather large figure in the world of modern art. As large as say Picasso, or Matisse who were his contemporaries. But the difference between them and Chagall is that he also happens to be an artist with Jewish/Russian roots who eventually did not have a place to return to in his native land. In that sense I’d like to point out that he does resemble my own history. In fact Vitebsk, the town which held a prominent place in his work also happens to be the birth place of one of my grandparents. I do not write this because cultural/or ethnic roots are necessarily important in art, or life for that matter. If I was to be completely honest, in my own life as a perpetual immigrant I have come to realize that cultural background is only as important as we deem it be. But looking at the messy, colorful, luminous and wholly sentimental art of Marc Chagall, I have to concede that perhaps our roots run much deeper than we often think.
I think I read somewhere that Picasso said that Chagall got lucky – that his painting skills were rather average. However he also later said that no one understood light as well as Chagall. I do not know, it’s not my place to judge another artist’s work, I can only have a point of view. All I know that in spite of not being ‘expertly’ painted, in me Chagall’s work has always invoked some of the strongest emotional reactions – as if I was able to connect to part of his life and my own history, one I do not even know, or understand completely.
Characters jumping into the sky, rooster and village huts, acrobats, angels, lovers spinning each other around. There is no perfection of lines here, although everything makes sense and fits together perfectly: all the messy, colorful reflection of the life that he knew – and one that I myself coming from those parts of the world could connect with as well through his work.
Surprisingly, when I created my first illustrations for a book without even realizing this, skewed perspectives, bodies piled up at various angles, and of course color, all made an appearance completely naturally. By my own admission I am not patient enough for representative art, and compensate for lack of depth of field in my compositions by playing with elements – something I enjoy much more. And I wonder if my countryman (and I promise that is the only parallel I draw) Marc Chagall had the same approach.
** All artwork is property of the artist and respective collectors, and Rosino