Being back home is sweet indeed but I will continue to see, to feel and to make use of the light, the shadows, the shapes of Tavira. Certain images are forever engraved in my mind: the extraordinary array of lines and colours of the fishing boats moored along the riverbank; the clusters of old men in flat caps sitting on benches in the park; the sumptuously decaying façades of abandoned houses; the independent dogs hurrying along the street, minding their own business; the plain white outer walls of the churches and their riotous baroque interiors; the enamel blue of the sky and of the azulejo-tiled walls. And so much more. I'm grateful to Casa 5 for giving me the opportunity to get back in touch with my painterly senses, disgracefully neglected in recent digitally-dominated times.Tree and balcony, Tavira (coincidentally, Jean (tasting rhubarb) and I took a similar photograph, in a different place at a different time. See her March 5th post and scroll to the third picture down.)
Blue-red boat, Tavira
Yesterday I had to go immediately to see the Real Van Gogh exhibition - the Artist and his Letters and the ordeal of queuing for nearly two hours in the freezing courtyard of the Royal Academy did not dampen the joy, when finally inside the gallery, of being once again in the presence of Vincent, my old hero. The first encounter I had with his oeuvre was at a large exhibition in Paris which I saw as a student: it was love at first sight and Vincent became my inspiration, my goal. At that time I bought a paperback of his letters, in French, a book now falling apart from being avidly thumbed so often.
The current R.A. exhibition is marvellously conceived and even if you think you know Vincent's work from ubiquitous reproductions, it's worth braving the crowds to see some of the original paintings, many stunning rarely shown drawings, and to come face-to-face with the passion of this man's life and his hard-won achievement. I can't have been the only visitor to wonder how he, the outsider, would react to this exhibition and to the universal acclaim his work and his letters have received. If you want to read all 902 letters from and to Van Gogh, you don't have to spend the £300-something it costs to buy the magnificent new edition on sale in the shop: you can see them all at leisure by visiting the excellent website of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.