The 4 Apples That Changed Humanity
French painter Maurice Denis said, "There are three famous apples in history: the first is Eve's, the second is Newton's, and the third is Cézanne's." Due to the development of civilization in the 21st century, the famous Steve Job's apple is added as the fourth apple.
Image source: Myungja Anna Koh, Edunet, Wikipedia
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work was dedicated to transit from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavor to a modernistic and initially divergent world of art in the 20th century.
Cézanne pioneered his own style of painting, boldly escaping from the style of Impressionist painters at the time, who tried to portray the beauty of objects by capturing the shapes of objects that change with the angle and movement of light. If you look at his paintings, they are structural and formative rather than detailed and realistic. In particular, while the painters of that time fixed the point of view and painted from one point of view, he painted from multiple points of view. Therefore, looking at his paintings somehow makes you uncomfortable. Especially he tried to find the essence of things, not light or the external environment. In other words, he wanted to paint a true picture rather than a beautiful view or decorative paintings.
I love Cézanne's apples so much. Because the philosophy of the apple he drew coincides with the starting point of my painting. He did not simply try to draw apples beautifully, that is, he did not draw consciously of the gaze of others but created his own world with the essence that comes from within, that is, his perspective and philosophy. To build his world in this way, he one day leaves Paris, the home of art, alone and enters the mount Sainte Victoire alone.
For 20 years of continuous observation from the mountain and going up and down the mountain, he finally captures the essence of the mountain on canvas. His tenacity and passion are truly amazing. Peter Handke, who received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature, was moved by Cézanne's sincere artistic deeds and wrote a book called "Late returns". The Nobles with a man with Cézanne's arms as the protagonist of his book. And in the end, unable to contain his curiosity, he climbed the mountain that Cézanne had walked on.
At the first time, he climbed the mountain with doubts about the difference between the actual mountain and the painter's painting. But when he arrived to the top, he changed his mind. "Cézanne was right!". He drew mountains with insane precision. He let everything down and explored only the nature of the mountain, not external factors, and went directly to the place he drew, and realized how accurately he tried to discover the essence of objects. And he learned that contemplation added to objects creates the essence of art by itself, and he wrote a book called "Die Lehre der Sainte-Victoire(1980) ".
Cézanne's passion for pursuing true art for many years was not hidden and eventually came into the world. So it has since developed into Cubism and has become an essential foundation for the contemporary art.
This lesson from Cézanne to the modern who don't endure many repetition and easily fall into mannerism seems to give motivative energy to love and live every day with the same passion.
I was planting a few months ago two eggplants I got from my wonderful neighbor Michelle in my backyard. After a few months, the eggplants have grown exponentially, and recently they gave me three fresh eggplants. On a sunny day, I picked them carefully, fried them with soy sauce and olive oil in the pan, and ate them. It was delicious as I expected.
Above all, this series of processes gave me a lot of energy and joy. Because it was with the process, and the important thing was that it started from the heart of Michelle. So is art. It begins with a small invisible passion. But that passion must be very pure. So it's too complicated. However, when it reaches its purity, one day it will bear such beautiful fruits, giving people infinite joy. That joy is forever stuffed like a work by Cézanne or a book by Hanke. Making the invisible passion visible like this is art.
In the past, I also drew apples. At that time, I was living in Germany, and my family was barely living on the minimum wage. Therefore I couldn't buy paint freely, I suddenly wanted to draw an apple. But a good idea came to mind. I rummaged through the drawers, gathered old cosmetics, and finally drew an apple by using them.
I was not satisfied with the result as I drew it with cosmetics rather than paint, but I still feel happy every time whenever I look at this painting. It is because of the experience of not despairing when there is something to be done and getting good results when I struggle to find a way.
In fact, Lee Jung-seob, a Korean artist whom I admire, painted with a sharp blade on the silver foil inside the box of cigarettes when canvases were not available due to poor financial situation. This small painting is currently on display at the MoMA exhibition in New York.
Perhaps it was the desire to draw that made him find a good way. Cézanne, who has finally reached the goals after 20 years of isolation in the mountains with only one desire to paint, shows that desire is a good solution. Maybe the framework for most work begins with this aspiration. Painting is the work of taking out those invisible aspirations and making them visible to the world. I want to take out this invisible energy inherent in these things and put them on the canvas. With that in mind, I paint continuously.
Myungja Anna Koh