Matisse’s writings revealed a mystical sensibility and contemplative quality to his creative work process.  I immediately identified with his meditations.  As I have shared in prior posts, my own experience, while in the process of painting, has been grounded in a deep seated awareness of my participation in the “Cosmic Dance” as the “Beloved.”

Matisse’s reflections on his experience grant us a window into this spiritual dimension of the creative terrain he drew life from as a painter.

“Do I believe in God?  Yes, when I am working.  When I am being submissive and modest I feel so strongly assisted by someone who helps me do things that are beyond me.”  Matisse, Ecrits, 1972.

These words by Matisse were very moving for me, since they expressed so well a very similar mystical awakening that I have found to be true in my own creative journey.

Matisse also describes the value of being aware of the present moment and of how vital that mindset is for his work in order to be attuned to a transcendent creative space.

“During my career I’ve struggled … One day I found myself facing an outcome that I greatly desired.  It was not I who discovered it, who worked out of my state of mind; it seems to me that an idea, an ideal imposed itself on me.” Reported by Rémond, L’Art Sacré, July-August 1951

As I weighed the parallels of his experience with my own, I thought to consider the congruences between our artworks.   There were a few of my paintings that I consider bridge pieces into this contemplative journey.


Wheel within a Wheel 97- 99, 22 in x 30 in, Watercolor/Gouache, 2013
©Lorien Suárez 2013. All rights reserved.

To my eye, my artworks share a kindred motiff with Matisse’s cutout forms – especially the leaves – found at the Chapel of the Rosary in the Southern French town of Vence.

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My paintings (#97-99) were not based on a purposeful study of Matisse’s stained glass designs. I was pleasantly surprised to discover these similarities after the fact.

As I read Matisse’s writings about his experience working at the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, I was touched to discover that he felt that this particular work had been one through which he had undergone a period of self-discovery.  “The creation of the chapel in Vence eventually awakened me to my own nature.”  Matisse, Ecrits, 1972.  Some of the writers commenting on his work on the Chapel concluded that the artwork he did there, was reflective of all the stages of his creative expression and journey as an artist.

As my focus continues to rest on color and form, I have enjoyed looking at this particular set of compositional elements in Matisse’s design work, as well as his mystical experience as an artist.  I will continue to write about Matisse and Kandinsky in my next posts.