15 April 2006

A week of art and culture

I always say that being at a party is where is more likely to be invited to another party. It seems to me that we had been partying a lot...
Yesterday we completed a cycle of invitations to cultural events. On Sunday we had the luck to hear one of the concerts of the master pianists at the famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The organization that invited us not only chose the concert of an excellent pianist as Leif Ove Andsnes, we had our chairs so near to the piano that we were able to feel the music in our stomachs, I heard for the first time Moesorgsky's Paintings for an exhibition but the whole evening was planned to the detail. I had a chance to talk to friends and of course to meet new people, among them Ineke, who told me a personal story, she showed so much strength that I don't think I can forget that moment. Her husband also told me that thanks to his music teacher who let them hear Paintings for an exhibition at the age of 16 transformed his life devoting it in the visual arts.

On Monday, not completely recovered from the day before, we arrived at the Van Gogh Museum, where there is an exceptional duo show is on display: Caravaggio vs. Rembrandt, an odd and beautiful exhibition. Our host, with his entertaining qualities had an interesting point of view on their sponsoring of that night. There were so many people we knew that it seemed to me that it was going to be an evening of superficial conversations. Some of the guests took a headphone guided tour, but with some who didn't I had rather interesting conversations. The paintings really invited to tell what you expected, what you saw and to share conclusions. One of them told me: "I decided not to look at the Caravaggio's" obviously meaning that she considered them as 'less'. After comparing our observations I think she decided otherwise. I was also rather shocked to see the dryness (of the oil) of Caravaggio's paintings, as I hardly ever see one of his. (I don't think there are any works of his in Dutch collections). I also think Rembrandt's paintings are in a better conservation state, and maybe if Caravaggio's were as clean as Rembrandt's the paint would look more alive. I think they both made a great effort to understand the human form and nature, and seeing at some details from our extremely graphically trained eyes, they seem clumsy and incorrect, in perspective and size relations. I nearly felt as those annoying film fanatics who only keep on hoping to see errors on the screen. The night ended eating delicious portions of fancy food. At that moment we were sitting with two of our best friends and having a very contemporary conversation on the politics of the Netherlands. We left the beautiful museum with a complete sense of satisfaction.

On Wednesday, it was not Hans but Attie, a friend and wife of my husbands oldest friend (from the age four) Harm, who joined me at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem to see an exhibition of Dutch Golden Age paintings belonging to the Luxembourg state but travelling to the Netherlands to mark the official visit of the Great Duque. As we hastily arrived we joined lots and lots of people who were arriving at the invited time. It was not the easiest moment to find a glass of water as they were only generously offering glasses of champagne. The paintings originally came from a private collection and they were not big in size or name. The one I like the most was a still life like painting of a fallen tree, from Pijnaker. I saw it as a rather contemporary work and certainly an odd work in the traditional 'genres' of the period. I also saw many friends like my Wassenaar friends', Ana and Thomas, and our host Paul Russell and the Lux. Ambassadeur Mr. de Graff. Only the conversation with Attie had a deeper quality as she told me her observations of the night. She was surprised to see so many people coming from everywhere in the Netherlands in the middle of the week to an exhibition of 17th century art. It is indeed estrange seeing it from her point of view. Curiosity and friendship brought me there.

All week at day time I worked a lot, as I took photo's for some portraits and painted every day, for example on Thursday I painted nearly 10 hours in a row.
By Friday I though I was not going to make it, to the yearly concert of Bach's Mathews Passion in Naarden. As I say, when you don't have more energy you have to change clothes (with a shower preferably) and it makes you believe you are a new person. I did that. With new clothes we went to Naarden, arriving there, I nearly miss half of my shoes to the hungry cobbles of this lovely fortress-town. We were later than normally and we arrived to the pre-reception only to shake hands with our friend the Mayor of Naarden, Peter Rehwinkel, only to leave right away to the church. The concert had a far smaller choir than the last years but they placed a small choir of boys a little bit behind us, their young voices came into our right ears and on the left all the old instruments and the masterly trained voices of the soloists. I think this is what believers call heavenly sound. As this was probably our fifth yearly passion I am learning to appreciate it more and more, I understand each year more German terms and I don't count the four hours that the concert lasts...
What amazes me the most is the non-applause politics, being a religious moment but with a huge contrast to the, no matter how good or bad could be, always standing ovations the Dutch public gives, to ANY OTHER but the Passion concert of course. This time the moment of silence at the end of the concert lasted a more than other years, and it was rather impressive to see everybody frozen in their silence and movement as even the violinist holded their arch high as a stone sculpture. Only to be magically rescued from their still position by a signal by the director.
As we left the church, on this holly Friday, I realized how lucky I was, to be able to enjoy hearing and seeing so much high art made in previous times but as contemporary as all good art.

No comments: