I thought of talking about Matisse this week, but my mind went instead to his teacher, the man who really influenced an entire generation – Gustave Moreau.
Moreau was a great draftsman first of all – his painting vocabulary is endless. When I went to the Moreau Museum in Paris and saw his work I realized he achieved the unachievable. He’s not one of my favorite painters, but he really is very far out. In fact, you can see in his work the germ of surrealism.
No matter what you see in Moreau, it’s totally alive. It’ s kind of a hallucination and that’s what you want to reach – a hallucination. When I feel like I’m going around and around, that’s what I’m trying to get to, a hallucination.
Sometimes it has to do with the light, an intensity of light that isn’t natural. Sometimes it’s about color – I have a print of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting on the wall in my studio that I saw for the first time just recently. It has all different intensities of red.
The reds have great depth – it’s only when you reach the top level that you get that luminosity that turns it into a hallucination. A hallucination is ultra light.
There are other pictures on the wall – a Braque, a Munch, two Sargents, etc. – that I look at when I stop painting. They remind me to keep going for the highest level of light.
It’s a fraternal thing too – I think, he’s a brother. He understands. You love them for that. Now I know how hard it was for them. they all went through what I do – they were all battling to reach what they achieved. Now I know that.