18th April - Thought For The Day - Cut Outs
Words by Bev Jones
A few years ago, there was an art exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, based on the work of Henri Matisse, one of the 20th century’s most influential painters. Influenced by Impressionism and Japanese art, Matisse became famous at an early age, and was renowned for his use of colour in his early paintings. But these were not the paintings that were on display in 2014.
That exhibition was of his later work. Creations that came out of a very dark time in his life that included serious health issues, a marriage breakup and displacement by war. Confined to a wheelchair and therefore unable to stand at his easel, he began to cut images out of vibrant coloured paper, which he then directed his assistant to pin on the walls of his studio.
Photo by Matt Artz via Unsplash
These became known as ‘The Cut Outs’ and consisted of works of art made with nothing more than paper, pins and scissors. He referred to this time in his life as ‘a second life’, because to him, that’s what it was – he said it was ‘the next part of what had been before.’
Out of a place of darkness and difficulty came a new creativity – the likes of which had never previously been seen.
Rick Warren a pastor from Saddleback Church in America, talking about the tragic loss of his adult son says:
“you have three choices when bad things happen to you; you can let it destroy you; let it define you; or let it develop you.”
That’s what I’m reminded of through the later works of Matisse. Beauty from ashes. In the Bible, the theme of loss, transformation and renewal is constant, and it feels like the church is at this point at the moment. Are we at the next part of what has been before? Will we allow this forced change to develop how we do things in the future, building on what’s gone before, and emerging stronger, learning from the opportunities that have been made possible during this very difficult time? At some point, we will have to decide what we take forward, and what we leave behind. We’ll have to decide what the church of the future looks like. Whatever we decide,
this is not the end of our story – this is part of our story.
Perhaps there’s another reason that Matisse’s later work is so celebrated?
Is it that the new form only came into existence because of what was cut away?