bastille day exhibits
Each year on Bastille Day we host an exhibition of works by an artist new to us that we think deserves a larger platform, a wider audience. Fate, it seems, puts them in our path. Our featured artist for 2018 is Maurice Morel (1908-1991), a painter, art critic, and priest from France. As a six-year-old Morel first noticed an Indian yellow in a box of watercolors at a local paper store. The color lured him to return after school just to see it because it didn’t exist elsewhere. He longed for his own color set but his family couldn’t afford it. His interest in art was discouraged. However, on his Confirmation Day he was taken to his first museum and the world of art became established within him. While pursuing his formation for the priesthood at a college in Besancon, France, he sought art classes. None were available, which in hindsight became a curse and a blessing—a curse because he could not fulfill his artistic ambition; a blessing because the “academic professors of that era would have deformed him for life…”
He moved to Paris in 1927, where he met the poet Max Jacob, who not only encouraged him in his creativity but introduced him to writers, artists, painters, and poets, including Braque, Picasso, Rouault, and Matisse. By 1933 he helped organize the first exhibition of modern religious art at the Lucy Krough Gallery in Paris.
As an art critic, he began to write and lecture throughout Europe about how non-figurative art was the most concrete form of art to express what couldn’t be said: what is yearned for, hoped, experienced, and felt. Pope Pius XII invited his input in creating a museum of Modern Art at the Vatican. A recent exhibit at La Galerie de L’Exil in Paris reveals a growing interest in his work as an artist.
During the day Morel was a priest. At night, as a form of meditation, he created paintings, using whatever was at hand. He experimented with mediums and papers: gouache, oil, pastels, and pencil on old invitations, pages from magazines, letters, and boxes. Our exhibit reflects this. In most of the 14 works available, color is central. Others reflect a late in life return to figurative efforts. We purchased the paintings one piece at a time over 10 years from various Parisian galleries.
Morel once said, “I paint by a requirement as indispensable to my spiritual life as sleep and exercise are to my physical life….Painting mobilizes my various forces better than Ignatian meditation….” referring to spiritual exercises composed in the 16th century to help believers deepen their spirituality. Such meditation leads to discernment, a movement towards a mystical union with God. One might claim that Morel painted from his soul to the soul of those viewing his work.
For more information, read John Konan http://sacredartpilgrim.com/collection/view/80 and Jessica Cheze at http://www.deartibussequanis.fr/xx/morel.php.
Still available are works from past exhibitions by Paul Inglis and André-Marie Ricoux, from Somerville, MA. and Paris, France. respectively. Paul demonstrates his interest in the bridges of Boston. John O’Brien, a colleague and fellow artist, wrote about Paul's work, “These paintings are about bridges as much as Morandi’s paintings are about bottles. The bridge is a point of entry into a world of seeing, a metaphor." Ricoux employs Daoist principles "Empty Space" and "Qi" in his paintings of Normandy. Olivier Rasimi, a novelist and friend, wrote that viewers of Ricoux's work "partake in a magnificent, yet intimate, communion, where out of chaos comes natural order, where color and light unify, leading to introspection and a state of satisfaction."