Cézanne and Renoir: Art, Beauty, Self-Improvement, and Friendship

Revealing the Importance of Nature Through Art

On the occasion of the visit of our beloved Irish friend, we had the opportunity to visit the Renoir and Cézanne exhibition at Palazzo Reale.

Palazzo Reale pays tribute to the legacy of Paul Cézanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir, masters who contributed decisively to the birth of Impressionism, which celebrated its 150th anniversary on April 15, 2024.

So, the exhibition explores their influence on subsequent artistic movements. A journey through their most iconic paintings, from portraits to landscapes, still lifes, and bathers. Also, the exhibition ends with a section documenting how decisive the impact and influence of the two artists were on the subsequent generation of artists by comparing two Cézanne and Renoir works with two Pablo Picasso paintings.

Since our Irish friend Pauline is a painter and art teacher, she provided insights on colours and shapes, perspective and depth. Our pathway through the rooms of Palazzo Reale has been a full immersion in absolute beauty. We had the chance to discover more about Cézanne and Renoir, their different painting techniques, their life struggles, and their friendship. Indeed, their diverse traits joined them like a magnet, offering complementarity to each other. A deep connection, a shelter they couldn’t renounce. Also, despite their health issues, they remained passionate about creating art.

Cézanne and Renoir exhibition at Palazzo Reale, Milano
A reconstruction of Renoir’s studio

Some of Cézanne and Renoir memorable quotes

But the experience was so rich and profound that it’s difficult to summarise in just a few takeaways. So, we share some memorable quotes we found in the rooms:

“Art touches emotions. If it needs to be explained, it is not art.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“If my canvas is imbued with an undefined cosmic spirituality that moves me and makes me better, it will also move others, touching a part of their sensitivity of which they may be unaware.” Paul Cézanne

“A state of grace comes from contemplating God’s most beautiful creation: the human body. Suffering passes, beauty remains. I am perfectly happy.” Pierre-August Renoir

“Progress can only be made through nature; the eye is educated in relation to this.” Paul Cézanne

Exploring the paintings of Cézanne and Renoir has been such a meaningful experience. A lesson on art, beauty, self-improvement, and friendship. However, the importance of nature emerges through their art. Nature teaches through its form, which the artist interprets with an increasingly personal vision. Ultimately, nature is an open space to observe and contemplate the world. A space for observation, refuge, departure, and return. Therefore, a space to preserve.

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Ron Mueck at Triennale Milano

Hyper Realism & Reflections on Contemporary Atrocities

Yesterday, our journey led us to experience Ron Mueck at Triennale Milano: his first solo exhibition, in collaboration with the ‘Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.’

Unfortunately, we missed the inaugural event. So, looking for something interesting beyond our never-ending festive family meals, we headed straight to Triennale. This experience gave us a chance to reflect on the atrocities of our time. Indeed, it served as a poignant metaphor for Christmas 2023. While the world celebrates, Palestine, under bombing attacks, is teetering on the edge of extinction.

Art installations possess a unique force: they provoke contemplation, stirring emotions even more amid silence. In fact, this art exhibition was an evocative call to reflect on our present-day existence. Most importantly, the inhumanity prevailing within it.

Ron Mueck: hyper-realistic sculptures at Triennale Milano

The exhibit comprised six sculptures, each a vivid narrative in its own right. ‘Mass’ (2017) a towering assemblage of a hundred oversized human skulls. ‘In Bed’ (2005) depicts an immense woman seemingly fraught with anxiety. ‘Woman with Sticks’ (2009), a middle-aged woman bent backwards, struggling to hold a bundle of sticks twice her size. ‘This Little Piggy’ (2023) a composition capturing subjects engaged in the slaughtering of a pig, a yet unfinished creation emblematic of the artist’s evolving style. ‘En Garde’ (2023), three colossal dogs in varied poses, and ‘Baby’ (2023), a tiny newborn suspended on the wall.

Ron Mueck
‘Mass’ by Ron Mueck

Art: a mirror that reflects humanity

These sculptures, diverse in size and form, possess an evocative power, stirring deep empathy. Mueck’s meticulous craftsmanship, evident in the intricate details and nuanced use of colour, rendered these works hyper-realistic. They were undeniably captivating yet also unsettling, compelling us to confront our perceptions of reality.

Walking among the installations provided an immersive experience, both physical and visual, that touched us profoundly. Of all the sculptures, ‘Mass’ left the most haunting impression.

Contemplating ‘Mass’ by Ron Mueck at Triennale Milano felt like a metaphor for the atrocities of our era: stark imagery that mirrors the dissonance of this year’s Christmas.
While Christmas traditionally embodies sentiments of love, peace, and generosity, the atmosphere of Christmas 2023 felt incredibly strange and somewhat hypocritical. Celebrating the nativity seems pointless when the very birthplace has been ravaged. And over 7,000 children have been killed.

Among such devastation, what does the world truly celebrate? Merry what?

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Siamo Foresta

Contemporary Art to save the nature

Yesterday we attended the opening of the “Siamo Foresta” exhibition at Triennale Milano in collaboration with Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporaine. We are forest – is the language of contemporary art focused on nature and aiming to save it from human impact.

Beyond anthropocentrism

“Siamo Foresta (we are forest) draws its inspiration from an aesthetic and political vision of the forest as an egalitarian multiverse of living peoples, human and non-human, and as such offers an allegory of a possible world beyond our anthropocentrism. The exhibition stages an unprecedented dialogue between thinkers and defenders of the forest; between indigenous artists – from New Mexico to the Paraguayan Chaco passing through the Amazon – and non-indigenous artists (Brazil, China, Colombia, France).” – source

Siamo Foresta: artists involved

“Focusing on artists from Latin America, We Are Forest presents, amongst others, the works of Jaider Esbell (Macuxi, Brazil), Cleiber Bane (Huni Kuin, Brazil), Floriberta Femin, Angelica Klassen, Esteban Klassen, Marcos Ortiz (Chaco, Paraguay), Sheroanawe Hakiihiwë, Joseca Mokahesi, and Ehuana Yaira (Yanomami, Venezuela and Brazil), Johanna Calle (Colombia), Alex Cerveny, Bruno Novelli, Santidio Pereira, Solange Pessoa, Adriana Varejao, and Luiz Zerbini (Brazil).” – source

We recommend you visit the exhibition, it’s open until October 29!

Siamo foresta

As we entered the rooms, a quote caught our attention:

“The forest is alive. It can only die if the white people persist in destroying it: if they succeed, the rivers will disappear underground, the soil will crumble, the trees will shrivel up, and the stones will crack in the heat. The dried-up earth will become empty and silent.”

David Kopenawa, The Falling Sky 2010

Siamo Foresta: nature focused contemporary art

Captured by green in every shade and two corners of the forest installation with large lush plants we could walk through. And bright colours; but also some impressive black and white, all with potent imagery and a touching sense of light. Indeed we were amazed to discover the drawings some indigenous self-taught artists made just with a ballpoint pen.
A fun detail, a man saw Cri standing next to a painting in her anis slipdress by Marc Le Bihan and said: “Your colours perfectly match this painting. You should be in it! Let me take you a picture!”
Indeed, we all wore colours in line with the exhibition. Perhaps when we made our Spring-Summer 23, the forest mood inspired us!

In the end, another quote made us reflect:

“It began with separating man from nature and establishing him as a sovereign kingdom; it was thus believed to erase the most irrefutable character of him, namely that he is primarily a living being. And, remaining blind to this common property, the field has been given free rein to all abuses.”  

Claude Levi-Strauss – Structural Anthropology 2

This quote from Claude Levi-Strauss – Structural Anthropology 2 – is dated 1973. In 2023, fifty years later, there’s a summit on sustainability every day! Nothing has changed over time. In fact, now climate change is irreversible, but we are just talking.

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Never too late to start

The extraordinary paintings of Sally Gabori

It’s never too late to start may seem like a catchphrase. Usually, we tend to believe that there is a specific path we must follow to find what is possible for us. But we discovered an artist we didn’t know about, Sally Gabori. Her powerful story and artistic career taught us that it is never too late to start doing something and find your way.

Last week we went to Triennale Milano to attend Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori’s exhibition. It collects 30 marvellous paintings that show intense brushstrokes of colours beautifully paired.

Never too late to start
Sally Gabori exhibition – Triennale Milano – Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

Considered one of the greatest contemporary Australian artists of the past two decades, Sally Gabori started painting in 2005, around the age of eighty and quickly earned national and international acclaim.
Before her death in 2015, she had a few years of rare creative intensity, developing her unique work with no ties to other aesthetic currents, particularly within contemporary Aboriginal painting.

An extensive canvas, Sally Gabori painting, contemporary art
Sally Gabori exhibition – Triennale Milano – Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

Sally Gabori’s story

Gabori was born in 1924 on Bentick Island, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the northern coast of Australia. She was a Kaiadilt woman who spoke the Kayardilt language. Her name, Mirdidngkingathi Juwaranda, comes from the Kaiadilt tradition by which people take their name from their birthplace. Therefore, her name indicates she was born at Mirdidingki, a small creek south of Bentinck, and her “totem animal” is “juwarnda”, or dolphin.

The Kaiadilt, a population of 125 in 1944, were the last Aboriginal people of coastal Australia to establish lasting ties with Europeans. They had a traditional lifestyle relying on their island’s natural resources.

In 1940, Presbyterian missionaries settled on Mornington Island and tried unsuccessfully to convince the Kaiadilt to join their mission. But in 1948, a hurricane flooded and contaminated their land. So, the Presbyterian led the 63 survivors, including Gabori and her family, to their mission. Once in Mornington, they housed the Kaiadilt in camps on the beach, and the children, separated from their parents, in dormitories inside the mission. Also, they’ve forbidden kids from speaking their mother tongue, detaching them from their culture.

Sally Gabori paintings, contemporary art
Sally Gabori exhibition – Triennale Milano – Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

The revelation at 80 years old

Around the age of eighty, Gabori visited the Mornington Art Center for the first time, and the contact with painting was a revelation. Indeed, she went there whenever she could, even painting several canvases per day.
Six months after her revelation, she had her first solo exhibition.

She left more than 2.000 canvases. Her paintings celebrate different places of her native island, which she had not visited for many years. Indeed, they have deep meaning for herself, her family, and her people.

In 2013, Gabori was invited to present her work at the 55th Venice Art Exhibition. And at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
In 2022, the “Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain” in Paris presented the first extensive exhibition of Sally Gabori’s work in Europe.

Bright and bold colours on large size-canvases, absolute formal freedom and boundless imagination. Impossible not to feel deep emotions. Stunning! A must-see if you are in Milan until May 14th.

An exhibition and a life lesson: whatever you want to do, it’s never too late to start!

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