It is a good exhibition, so congratulations to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Painting and sculpture cannot effectively be presented through photographs. One has to see the actual creation. These art forms differ in this respect from music, which can be presented, highly effectively, through recordings. Although, with painting and sculpture, there is that meditative opportunity to pause, reflect, return, and reconsider; which the instrumentalist, especially pianists, also is able to do. And, I believe, poets as well; for poetry unspoken loses almost all its power to communicate; hence, part of its difficulty, as it requires language.
I was surprised by the spareness of brush strokes in many of Monet’s canvasses (The Japanese Garden I); and the frequent dominance of a particular hue (Water Lilies, and even more intensely, The Path beneath the Rose Arches) and a particular light (the luminous, exceptional Houses of Parliament, London). The interpretation rendered is a further interpretation of a visual and intellectual interpretation of the subject under consideration.
The endeavour is neither to achieve a literal representation nor to create a traditional painting that is a picture within a frame; in fact, many of Monet’s paintings do not have the outer sections of the canvas painted at all.
The scope of the interpretation is marvellously extended and intensified through series, in effect multiple interpretations, of the same ‘subject,’ (The Japanese Bridge; Weeping Willow) almost as if were a set of variations, such as those found musically in the Goldberg Variations, or the first movement of Mozart’s piano sonata K. 331, or Liszt’s Totentanz, or the final movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata Op. 109, which itself harkens back to the Goldberg Variations by Bach.
And, further, I thought, this ‘process’ would also be amenable to poetic treatment, the examples first coming to mind being Ezra Pound’s Cantos and the exceptional 144-sonnet meditation, Le paradis des apparences, by Montréal’s Robert Melançon.