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CHAGALL: Painting a Virgin Visual Language

If an artist is given a free choice to make a home, he or she would catch the first available fight to Paris. Marc Chagall did the same. His local life made him running away from the environment and he lived in Paris. Born in Russia, Chagall had lived best of his years in France. His incidental stays in Berlin and St. Petersburg and other cities in the surround gave him opportunity to blend his style of painting giving an east European tilt. Chagall, himself being of Jewish origin, had a deep liking for Jewish Folk culture that he depicted in his paintings.
Young Marc Chagall
The Russian rule prevailing in the town Vitebsk in which Chagall passed his childhood disallowed Jewish children to study in schools. When Chagall told her mother that “I want to be a painter, she could hardly figure out what he actually meant. But his first teacher and a realist painter Yehuda (Yuri) Pen could understand what the budding artist meant. Pen realised the sense of discipline Chagall had in work and the young man’s capacity to understand the value and meaning of the colours. He would not charge him a single penny for the training he imparted to Chagall. The portrait given here is of young Marc Chagall and it is done by his teacher Yehuda Pen. However Chagall did not confined himself to the sphere of portrait making his mentor teacher was mostly interested. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons )
Marc Chagall’s Style of Paintings
If we imagine Chagall standing surrounded by the galleries, he would see the world’s most remarkable paintings done in the style of cubism, fauvism and symbolism. It was the time when Paris was zooming with modernist artists like Picasso and his contemporaries. Chagall interlaced all of these styles of paintings to use it for weaving his own canvases. He lived a long life of almost a century (1887 – 1985), the environment hold him and mould his artistic outputs. His commissioned works for UNO and Cathedrals are like the treasure of the art-world. The illustrations done for literary books and Bible are also memorable art-pieces he produced.
In Paris Chagall had ample opportunities to get merged in the ocean of modernity of the art, created by Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Chagall did it partially. While developing his highly original style, he blended most of the elements of traditional Jewish culture with technique of modern art. This mixture embedded elegance into his paintings, making him known as a cross- country artists.
Symbolism in Chagall's Art
The work of any artist should not be taken on it face value, as it seems. The artist like Chagall would inject symbols to give a message to the world through his paintings. The symbolism can be dependent on any thing, the environment, the religion or tastes of an artist. No artist's work can remain untouched by the events happening in his or her personal life. It is well-known fact that Chagall has lived a life of chaos, forcing him to flee to Paris first and then to New York. The war had played such a havoc in his career as an artists. This had generated a trans-formative effect on his artistic mind. It shaped and nourished his style of painting, too. His paintings, for a specific period, narrated and symbolized the anguish, as he was forced to leave his home land first and then the adopted home. He was a Jew by birth, but the crucifixion of Christ was the subject he chose for depicting pain and suffering. the darkness of his colours give us the message of destructiveness and the acute suffering.
Chagall's Paintings done With Nostalgic Fervour.
Chagall had sweet memories of the days passed in his home town Vitebsk. he once wrote that. "My homeland exists only in my soul". This had led his mind choosing the nostalgic subjects which were based on the places and the events he encountered in his childhood. Assuming his home town as a personal identity, he wrote that "I did not live with you, but I didn't have one single painting that didn't breathe with your spirit and reflection".
I and the Village
In one of his famous paintings, I and the Village (1911), that he painted after coming to Paris, Chagall had let the flood of his memories flowing in full swing. Done in the style of cubism, that he acquired and accepted as medium of expression, this painting seems like an index of the floating images from his past life. Look at the transparent spaces. It reminds us the Chagall's love for the glass painting he would be doing in the coming years. If we look closely at this painting, it depicts the artist's strong desire for security. The face of a man staring at a cow is symbolic, as the cow is considered as a symbol of security in the villages. The houses in backyard are similar to the homes he had left far behind in his homeland Vitebsk. ( Image courtesy Wikipedia)
The images Chagall painted were highly innovative. While richly injecting his canvases with the imaginations, his artistic aim was trying to write a virgin visual language. And he greatly succeeded in his aim. (The image below courtesy Wikipedia)
Fiddler (1912 - 1913) Done by Marc Chagall
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