CARAVAN's Founding President, Paul-Gordon Chandler, is providing a series of reflections on works of art along the themes of “Inspiring, Transcendent, Enriching, Contemplative and Imaginative.” He begins with “Inspiring Art.”
Georges Rouault, Twilight, 1937, Oil on canvas, 66 × 99.4 cm
(This painting is held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY)
Georges Rouault (1871-1958) was one of the few modern artists whose work was clearly religious,” says William Dyrness, the author of "Seeing through the Darkness," about the French artist’s spiritual vision. A painter, draughtsman, and printer, whose work is often associated with Fauvism and Expressionism, Rouault was a life-long Roman Catholic, but his work was anything but "religious" in the traditional sense. Rouault found little attraction in the various art movements of his day, but worked believing that art flowed out of an interior life. And with this steadfast vision before him, he relied more and more on his faith to guide his art making.
Rouault was apprenticed in his youth to a stained-glass firm, and this influence is vividly seen throughout his work, with the black outlines that encased his figures and images, much as in a medieval stained-glass window. Like in stained-glass windows, he grew to have a "passionate taste" for their colors, finding refuge in them.
A keen observer of life, Rouault’s work is distinct from the conventional creative forces of his time. He seemed to live and work from a different sense of time and calling. His paintings are a portal into ages past, and then, magically, invite us into a journey toward our future.
Rouault's works are an affirmation of the light that lies behind the darkness. The sun or moon in the horizon, are often depicted in Rouault paintings, such as in this work titled "Twilight," one of the mystical works he painted between 1929 and 1939 (likely around 1937). In "Twilight," my eyes gravitate up toward the moon in the sky, as if Rouault is attempting to force back the darkness, giving light a chance to shine in the midst of darkness, thereby connecting us to the Sacred.