Sunday, November 9, 2008


What would you feel, and what would you do, if you love dining out but you lost your taste buds?
What would you feel, and what would you do, if you are a professional runner but you lost your legs?
What would you feel, and what would you do, if you love swimming but you lost your arms?

Now see this water lily painting,
....then see this one:

Did you feel like those two were painted by different person?

But no, it was painted by the same person. Those paintings are Claude Monet's works, under the request from French Prime Minister Clemenceau, who asked him to paint for L'Orangerie, a museum of impressionist and post-impressionist art located at Place de la Concorde, Paris. Clemenceau urged Monet to work on that project in 1914. Since that time, until his death in 1926, Monet painted a series of water lily paintings under the theme of Nympheas, which he decided to donate to the French State (Potts, 2000*).

I have just learned that during the completion of that project Monet's sight was worsen by cataract. He almost lost his sight. He, THE famous Monet could hardly see the view in his garden, nor the colors on his canvas. Monet, who has been playing with colors by intuition, had to read the names of the colors written on the paint tubes to find which colors he was using...

To be honest, I couldn't feel much joy when I saw his latest paintings as I identify Monet with something more joyful like his Poppy Field painting. Without the same visual capacity, Monet is not the same Monet. The spontaneous view, playful colors, lights, sunshine... they are all gone as he lost the most important tool belongs to a painter: the eyes. You know that someone still can paint even if they don't have hands: they can use feet or mouth to hold the brush. Yet without they eyes, how would you visualize?

If I was him, I know I would be so depressed. I was well-known, I was trusted, I was having a huge project for the state because I was considered as a great painter, but I couldn't even pick the right the colors with my own eyes. Then, later in the history of art people noted the change in my style, due to my disability....

How would you call that, if it is not IRONIC?

Then look at Beethoven. A great composer, passionate to the music, but deaf. A part of Wikipedia (my less trusted source of information, but, anyway...) even mentioned that to feel connected to his music, Beethoven used a special rod attached to the soundboard on a piano that he could bite. It made the vibrations transfer from the piano to his jaw to increase his perception of the sound. Ah. How sad...

Those two names, Monet, and Beethoven have been knocking at my heart in the last two days as I'm finishing my reading on "Monet", a book written by Vanessa Potts (2000).

When I used to work in radio and TV, I used to imagine, how if I lost my voice? What would happen to my life? This moment now, I can really understand why Beethoven had suicidal thoughts during his difficult moments.

Those two names, Monet and Beethoven, have showed the wildest possibility that can happen to life: losing the most important tools that you need to do the things that you are very passionate about.
If it happened to me, will I be strong enough?
Will I cry,
What will I do?
Will I survive?
Will I move on?
Will I be able to produce great works?

I really don't know the answer now, but I hope, if ever that unfortunate moment happened to my life, I wouldn't cry, I would find a way, I would survive, I would still produce great works...

*Potts, Vanessa. Monet. Parragon Publishing, London: 2000.

1 comment:

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