Sunday, 25 May 2008
L'Enfant A L'Orange
Recently there were lots of articles about the sale of the one of Vincent Van Gough’s last paintings, L’Enfant A L’Orange. The painting was being described as one of his happiest works. Often we think of happy art as rather twee. I think we also therefore feel we should be less moved by ‘happy’ paintings or other work and that it should have a lower ranking on the lists of art we admit to loving because it is happy.
I must say I held somewhat to this view of ‘proper’ art often being more sad or melancholy myself. I like retro advertising or prints of flowers on my walls but in a gallery I am more drawn to the strange, sad or unsettling pictures than the chocolate box landscapes and ruddy faced people looking jolly.
However L’Enfant a l’Orange has definitely made an impression on me, despite being in the ‘happy’ category. It’s an incredibly evocative painting which appeals to my senses far more than other paintings I can think of- and I haven’t even seen the real canvas but am relying on internet and newspaper pictures.
The orange looks so real, ripe and ready to bite- and I don’t even particularly like oranges. The way the enfant’s cheeks are flushed with heat and excitement makes my own cheeks remember how it feels to burn red and then start to cool as I relax- so that I feel both the hot sensation in my face and the cold to touch sensation of sweat cooling and drying on my skin. The enfant’s cheeks look slightly aggravated as if perhaps she has already eaten an orange and is a little allergic- but the anticipation on her face is such that she can’t have bitten yet.
The child is transfixed, almost hypnotised, by the thought of the cold, sweet and sharp tang of biting at the orange flesh and feeling the acid juice mix with the salt a hot day has left on her lips.
I really want to own a copy of this painting, just a postcard or picture in a book. It is such a fabulous example of how real painting can look and how it can transport you. Every time I look at the girl with the orange I am transported to the summer.
Picture courtesy of The Independent.