palate (palette) cleanser

"constellation with exposition" oil on linen 1955 by richard paul lohse, 47.25" square

[free of any symbolic relationship with reality, these blocks of color are in and of themselves a concrete object.  the foundation of constructivism or concrete art began in russia & spread across europe & into latin & south american art in the 1930s & 40s.  richard paul lohse was a swiss artist & one of the major proponents of the movement in western europe.]

i looked up from my dessert & tears were streaming down his face.   spoon in one  hand, he couldn’t take his eyes off the plate in front of him.  “what’s the matter, sweetheart?” i inquired, “is everything okay?”

“it’s just so beautiful, i don’t want to disturb it by putting my spoon into it,” he sniffed back a sob.    “the whole meal has been so wonderful & now this, this plate is the last part of it & i’m hoping if i just hold my breath for a second longer it won’t end–i don’t want it to end.”

all this over a plate of seven different sorbets.  one scoop per flavor, all arrayed in the most spectacular display of ices that one could ever hope to see (at the hotel au raisins de bourgogne, in beaune, france, should you ever find yourself in the neighborhood,) & now at last, he dipped his spoon into the first one, his pink tongue catching the bottom of the spoon & pulling it into his mouth, a beatific glow (a halo really) arcing over his head as the first taste buds reacted to the flavor of the sorbet & sent his eyes rolling toward the heavens.

& although they were served as a dessert, their purpose was to cleanse & rejuvenate & enliven the rest of his evening (they succeeded, if memory serves me.)  sorbets (or ices) have been used that way in haute cuisine to ‘cleanse’ the palate of the diner between courses (most usually during a tasting menu composed of several different dishes.)

this is what i thought of when i first saw this painting by lohse.   i kept going back to it, for the color, for its simplicity, for its impishness, for its delight was my delight & when i turned away from it, its colors sweetly, but without over-shadowing, informed my view of another work of art (which i’ve forgotten, of course.)

but even now when i look at it, i get that same bubbly feeling (champagne freshly poured into a crystal flute,) even the same little spritz of it as you put your lips to the thin rim of the glass for that first sip (its dryness — sec — already tangible.)  i am somewhat surprised that the artist titled the work, for usually these high concept art genres eschew titling work so as not to influence the viewer (should there be any.)

“constellation with exposition” — the stars on display & you see when you look at the colors how they twinkle against each other — look at the night sky & tell me you don’t find the very same colors in stars (near & far) — you won’t be able to.  i’m sure there are scientific reasons why your brain reacts the way it does to certain colors & how artists manipulate that experience through the placement of one color against another, but in this instance, for this moment, i don’t care.

all i want is the visceral knowledge, the evocative emotion, the base instinct that’s triggered by color & shape & composition.  this painting is brilliant & it, like those sorbets, brings tears to my eyes & cleanses my senses for whatever is to come next.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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