Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Odilon Redon

The French artist Odilon Redon has always fascinated me. His oeuvre can be divided into two distinct periods - the earlier Noirs, and the latter pastels that gave colour to his haunting images. The Noirs, images in distinctive black and white, plumbed the depths of Redon's imagination. Many of them were indeed unusual, and expressed some deep and irrational part of Redon's mind. The latter pastels, including the famous series depicting Pegasus, displayed a distinctive dream-like quality. Redon often spoke of the indeterminacy that characterised these images and his art more generally, and these latter pastels do indeed displayed such dreamy vagueness.

Redon's art is loosely categorised under the banner of 'Symbolism'. It is a movement that is inclusive of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire and Mallarme. In fact Redon was to foster a significant friendship with Mallarme. Another friendship that was also to be important for Redon was that with Joris-Karl Huysmans. It was Huysmans that included a passage on Redon in his decadent novel 'A Rebours'. A Rebours was to become a cult classic in Parisian culture of the time, and its success catapulted Redon into fame.

The word to describe Redon's oeuvre is 'oneiric'; meaning dream-like. Redon followed his imagination, and it lead him to create images that one may find in the somnambulistic realms we tread through in our nocturnal mental wanderings (dreams).

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