Whitey Tighties

The Bather Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906) MOMA, New York  

The Bather Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906) MOMA, New York

Yesterday we observed a swimmer in the sea, gliding through currents of womby metaphysics.  Today, let’s take a look at a swimmer preparing to enter the water. You recall the watery pallet from Westerik’s piece and notice that Cezanne’s is quite similar.  Grey blues, slight green, bits of brown. I trace the pinks that highlight the vertical body of the bather. Now follow the pinks that create a horizontal swath of land behind him. These two masses balance each other; the similar colors join.  The man, rooted solidly to land. But he’s about to change that.

The bather’s toes swirl the water and you feel his contemplative mood.  This is the moment right before the splash. Heel on land. Toes tickle water. Clothes off. There is a familiar vulnerability and a sense of time suspended. And suddenly,you think you really want him to get on with it, because frankly, his vulnerability is making you a little uncomfortable.

The color blocking technique Cezanne pioneered is apparant, but he transitions his usual warm pallet to cool the effect here.  Cool and contemplative. The preparation before the ritual cleansing.  Thinking back over the day, hmmm. . . .that thing you banished to the back burner springs to mind, barrels to the front. Argh. . . You ponder for a moment to give it voice, your toes swish the water, restless.  Relaxing your muscles, flexing your joints. Preparing to forget.

A slight pause before you dive. The caught breath before the plunge.

(and the guy at the YMCA really did say that. . . he did the shoulder popping thing too)

Sweet Salt

Co Westerik, Zwemmer 1962 Museum Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Suspended between heaven and earth in the gestational thrall of the sea. The clouds float below  the water’s surface, the sky seems liquid like water. A lovely inversion here. Don’t you think?

It’s a head on shot, as the swimmer glides toward us, between two pieces of land in the distance. The surface of the water bisects the canvas with a delicate horizontal line. The broad field of blue sky and the swath of cloudwhite water add emphasis to this line.  But wait, there’s more. Connect with your finger the lone cloud, the mass of land on the right, finger-like seaweed at the bottom, and the mass of land on the left, finishing again with the blue cloud.  You have encircled the swimmer, a circumscription joining these four painted elements.

See references to the womb here — use your imagination (i.e. seaweed placenta). The swimmer at this angle, in a fetal position. However, the image speaks more than ” the ocean is our Mother.” Its the freedom created when your stroke settles into a hypnotic rhythm. You cease to exist like you did on land. This new-found buoyant body, ubiquitous wetness and the sweet salt taste in your mouth, the soft rock of the waves. Plucks you from time and delivers you for the briefest moment to the soul of eternity.

(At least that’s what the guy at the YMCA said)  And I thought, “Yeah, but once I was almost killed by that sea.”