As I continue along this path of "digging up" archival information, I discover and linger, staring and smiling at this photo of the interior of Paul Cézanne's rather unpretentious studio space.
It is rather irreverent to walk into someone’s creative space without first asking. I felt a twinge of guilt upon entering Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence. . . He wasn’t home and it was like trespassing.
I walked the garden transfixed by the overgrowth that nevertheless left the path clear. The cobblestones in the pathway spoke of my presence. They crackled like rice crispies under my feet. It was there, in the late summer of 1997 that I settled to sketch, staring long and hard at a lone chair in the dappled sunlight - waiting for its "sitter". Had he just been here? Did I miss him? Will he be back soon?
I didn’t dare draw "in" his studio. That would definitely have been disrespectful. In that smaller than expected space, I simply looked about, silent, taking it all in, wishing to not make a noise. It felt like being in church, not knowing which prayer to utter. I was in Aix-en-Provence, in Cézanne’s studio. . . His easel seemed as it would have after a long day, I noticed the discus thrower in the cabinet. I smiled. His of clay, mine of bronze seemed to link us closer together.
The bottles for yet another still life, the simple crate supports for the posing of objects. . . Not a palatial place as so many wanna-be grand studios are, Cézanne created great stories out of simplicity. Rather than be grand, he preferred to represent what was truly grand - like the Mont St-Victoire.
On April 30, 1896, Cézanne wrote to Joachim Gasquet: "All my life I have worked to be able to earn my living, but I thought that one could do good painting without attracting attention to one's private life. Certainly, an artist wishes to raise himself intellectually as much as possible, but the man must remain obscure. The pleasure must be found in the work.” - *
And to this letter I have tried (not always successfully) to remain true.
And so, for this opportunity to simply “be” in that place of 9 rue Paul Cézanne, I would like to personally thank the American Friends of Cézanne who through their generosity saved and offered this place to the Université de Aix-en-Provence. If it wasn’t for these incredible people, the house and studio of Paul Cézanne might today only be a figment of all of our imaginings - razed, from a plot of land within the town - a plot of land with no memory of his passing, his grace and his genius.
Paul sat here. . . Jardin de Cézanne - Oil created from 1997 sketch - 18" x 24" - 1998
I am a painter and writer who's whole life has been influenced by one precept : "thinking each our own thoughts makes us relevant and relevance makes us powerful."