The Open Window


Years ago, I had to study Henri Matisse who is best known for his breakaway from classical painting to 20th century modern art.There was a part in this great artist’s life when he visited Collioure in southern France and saw the Mediterranean for the first time.

For the first time, he saw shapes and textures in the most fascinating tones and luminosity. The place inspired him and his fellow artists so much that they were able to express themselves on canvas like never before the kind of art that the world had ever seen before.

I tried to understand what inspiration meant to this group of les Fauves but couldn’t. Its hard to feel the way they did when I’ve already seen the ‘future’ – all their paintings and others on gallery walls.

This morning, my third on the beach at sunrise, I decided to try a little meditation on an old foundation pillar left behind by the developer of the resort.

Eyes closed. Sweet strong breaths in out to the constant predictable sound of waves, thoughts whirling around like musical notes, slowly floating like feathers as each second pass and the mind calms down.

A tweet above. The flutter of wings. The crushing of water on rocks. The tide is changing. I opened my eyes and for a split second, I saw through the master’s eyes the brilliance of the Mediterranean.

For the first time, I can imagine what it was like to be intoxicated by the natural colours of the beautiful place. It’s like being inside an infinity screen of a romantic movie. So inspired, I grabbed an imaginary brush and like Matisse, painted the future.

Joan Yap





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