City of Light Inspires Generations of Artists: The Romantic Allure and Elegance of Paris Is a Perpetual Magnet for Painters around the World. (Paris)
Chapman, Audrey S., Art Business News
As a 15-year-old boy, painter Kerry Hallam traveled to France from England with his grammar-school class and vowed that he'd one day go back. "Fifteen years later, I found myself in a car on a ferry going over to France," said the 64-year-old painter. "I had been working in an advertising agency in London when I suddenly realized that I wasn't achieving anything or doing what I wanted to do. So I literally ran away. That was the turning point in my life and my career. So I have very strong affiliations with France, because it really was the place where I discovered myself."
Painter Cao Yong discovered a piece of himself in France, as well. Born in Communist China in 1962, Yong had only his imagination and his gift of painting to free him from the oppression that surrounded his life. "At that time, we had nothing to read," said Yong. "Every book was burned during the cultural revolution." The only thing that the Chinese government let in, he said, were pieces of French culture--pieces that depicted the misery of capitalism and the dangers of living the high life. While limited, that culture nourished Yong to such a degree that when he stepped foot in Paris for the first time in 1999, he felt like he was coming home. "I was familiar with every street, every building, every brick," he said, "because for years those things had lived in my imagination and in my dreams."
It's stories like these that explain why people yearn for paintings of Paris, a city so magical that when people speak of it, their voices actually change. In tones that reveal that their thoughts have literally taken them away, people use words such as "romance" and "dreams" and "magic" to describe the city."I have always thought that this city has the most romantic heart," said Russian-born artist Liudmila Kondakova. "I love the colors of Paris. The zinc on the rooftops, the marvelous honey-beige of the cobblestones, the beautiful blues, reds and greens of the storefronts."
And the magic that lures artists to paint Paris is the same magic that moves buyers to purchase their work. Simply put, said Dick Kleinman, owner of Dick Kleinman Fine Art Gallery in Cleveland, "your heart beats when you look at them."
Kondakova said her paintings of Paris come from a relationship with the city that not only feeds her art, but her soul. "I want to show that Paris belongs to everyone who loves it, to the people who live there, as well as those who only see it in their dreams," she said. "My Paris is an ideal world, an ideal reality." In other words, said Eric Dannemann, president of Chalk and Vermilion, the company that publishes her work, "Paris is her muse."
But Paris has served as artists' muse for years. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose paintings of cabarets, bars and bordellos reflected what many refer to as "the banquet years" of Paris, began painting the city in 1890 at the start of the Paris World's Fair and the opening of the Moulin Rouge. And Vincent Van Gogh's two years in Paris are said to be the most pivotal of his career. Between March 1886 and February 1888, Van Gogh spent time with many Impressionists, including Emile Bernard, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat and Paul Gaugin, and was often heard arguing with them about different techniques at sidewalk cafes in Montmartre.
While contemporary artists say they're inspired by everything they see in Paris ("What doesn't inspire me about Paris?" asked Russian-born painter Vadik Suljakov. "The history, the architecture, the people, hearing the French language being spoken by passers-by. Just being in Paris makes me want to paint. It's as simple as that." they add that its rich history inspires them as well. "Paris has always been a legendary place for me--the place where a lot of talented artists developed their creative concepts which were a product of the intellectual life," Kondakova said. …