Sunday, January 15, 2012

The truth about green

The Courtauld Gallery in London invites writers to talk about art. I watched novelist Ali Smith's fabulous 3.52 mins video clip 'The Truth about Green' (her response to Cézanne’s L'Etang des Soeurs à Osny) recommended by a friend, and it made my day. It also reminded me of how overused and flattened out both  the word and colour green have become. Applied to everything supposedly politically correct and used to endorse anything that can claim the labels wellness or health, however suspect, enchanting hues like chartreuse, viridian, emerald, lime and beryl are pressed into the service of banal everyday commerce from promoting chewing gum to scrubbing brushes. This is a long way from Smith's reality of feeling shot with the truth about green, akin to 'being mugged by life'......

Apart from the obvious aesthetic pleasure afforded by trees, it is the saturated mystery deep in the life of the green sap that stirs something in the blood. No matter how bleak the start of a day, a drive past, through and under the magnificent gigantic trees in my neighbourhood makes me understand how people deprived of such wealth in stark built-up landscapes are driven to acts of desperation. If leaves were purple, would one feel the same? I don't think so.

The truth about green? It's the unwritten signature in the body; red's deep opposite. The body as green incarnate. Ali Smith muses, 'anyone can snap me open, I'll bend like a sapling, my skin will split open and I'll see the red insides of me astonished into green...'

My Rasta friends would say: 'Green. Respect.' For the record: I've shed involuntary tears over a red and green Richard Diebenkorn colour field. Enjoy Ali Smith!

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