Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing. Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
I’ve been reading advice on how to do NaBloPoMo; that is, how to be able to blog on a daily basis for a month. Write short blog posts. Just post an image, just a quotation. Don’t bother to expand on them.
Well, how about not taking that advice? How about using the NaBloPoMo opportunity to do your best ever writing? To write something worthwhile? Some issues you feel deeply about? Some wrongs you’d like to see righted? Something so beautiful it makes somebody weep? Something so uplifting it pulls someone back from the edge of a cliff? Something that becomes a call to arms (metaphorically) for somebody? Something that heals somebody? If the pen is mightier than the sword, isn’t this an opportunity to prove it?
If the point of NaBloPoMo is just to have notched up a month’s worth of posts, what is the point?
Marc Chagall was and still is, even in death, the world’s greatest Jewish artist. In his work one sees Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism – name an ism and Chagall has adopted it, but adapted it to a better expression of the Jewish-folkloric-mystical motifs of his art. These motifs arose from memories of his early childhood days in a Russian village, as a Jew. His life spanned two world wars. His work has come to be a document to a culture decimated by these wars.
He composed this poem for a book commemorating 84 Jewish artists murdered in France by Nazis:
For the Slaughtered Artists: 1950
I see the fire, the smoke and the gas;rising to the blue cloud,
turning it black.
I see the torn-out hair, the pulled-out teeth. They
overwhelm me with my rabid palette.
I stand in the desert before heaps
of boots, clothing, ash and dung, and mumble my Kaddish.
And as I stand—from my paintings, the painted David descends to me,
harp in hand. He wants to help me weep and recite chapters of Psalms.
I saw an exhibition of Chagall’s work in Paris during the centenary commemoration of the holocaust. Along the length of a wall in a corridor adjacent to the exhibition were photographs taken by liberating forces of concentration camps. Afterwards, I needed to seek out a quiet seat. Looking up from it, I saw an elderly lady standing nearby, looking at me. Her hair was white. She was beautiful, even in old age. Her eyes were extraordinary. Huge and liquid. She smiled at me, said something. I didn’t speak enough French at the time and could only smile back. But I knew. And she knew I knew. Her eyes told me everything. Chagall made our encounter possible. His work brought us together. His art, his expression of love.
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