In Pursuit of Joy
Henri Matisse has a focus on the anti-gloom. His work is a celebration of hope and the possible. Unlike many of his peers, he aims to put the viewer in touch with joy. No stranger to suffering he came from an affluent background destined for a life in law, he turned his back on his father and his financial backing, embracing poverty in his 20s in favour of chasing hope and resilience in art.
Before the first world war he began to build a career, selling work and making a name for himself working in a style and communicating in a way that was more natural to him, however just as he was coming into his own, the world stopped. Gripped in a world full of violence and tragedy, Matisse continued to paint joy, embracing the beauty of the world that existed in spite of horrors. Around this time, he developed a love of the work of Paul Cezanne, whose influence can clearly be seen, as his once conservative palette increased in intensity. Working in a style that seemingly contradicted his strait-laced personality, he flourished in a world of the abstract and colour.
This celebration persisted in his work through global and personal tragedy, as he battled Cancer and a messy lawsuit with a former wife his work continues to evolve. Shifting from paint to paper as his body began to fail him, he produced some of his most noteworthy masterpieces while bedridden, now an elderly frail man he favoured scissors.
He initially came to cut paper as a way of plotting his designs preproduction throughout the 1930s, but in 1943 it became his dominant mode of work and remained that way in those final years. Becoming a vehicle to innovate, create, experiment and find joy in the face of a slow decline and inevitable death.
His practice from its inception offered a stark juxtaposition to the world at large, spanning times of austerity across two world wars, and many personal battles, it is his spirit that shines through.
We may now draw parallels as world events shift, and seek joy, not to belittle the struggles around us but as an act of rebellion in the face of it. To find the beauty in the mundane, and every day, rather than let the negative whitewash the world around us.
Matisse was a master of line and colour, ever striving to embody balance, purity and serenity in his work, pushing limits of interpretation. He shifted from reproducing traditional Dutch masters to breaking boundaries.
His bold compositions either mixed or monochromatic never fail to evoke inspiration.
In our interpretation, we have taken inspiration from his boldness of pallet. Embracing the richest of the colorplan collection and playing off compositions of his later cut paper works to create an abstract interpretation using the humble box, elevating something simple into something more.
Finding joy and beauty in the seemingly mundane.
In this time of uncertainty, we embrace the colour, as we embrace joy.