The Artist On His Blue Collection

By Michael Rogatchi (C)


The feature of The Life of Two of Us collection that binds it all together is the idea that I should ‘write a book’, create a collection of visual novelettes. Each painting in the collection is a story, with its plot, its beginning, its unfolding, and its end. To get this right, the reason-and-consequence linkages had to be addressed in this form as well; visually I tried to do this in such a way that details on the canvas are drawn each from the other, literally, and for sure many of them are interconnected. 

But before depicting a story on the canvas, you have to create it. The starting point for me for that was the work on C’est Fini: Black Trombone, which is my favourite painting from the collection, and a rather special one for me. It was this work that prompted me to make my own story after Serge Gainsbourg’s Black Trombone piece. The experience was so engaging that I constructed the entire collection that followed my Homage to Serge Gainsbourg on the same principle.

C’est Fini. Black Trombone. Homage to Serge Gainsborough. 2010.

Black Trombone by Serge Gainsbourg is such a powerful and absorbing piece that at some stage I somehow started to see it simply. So, I tried both to follow the Gainsbourg story, and at the same time, to create my own. On the canvas, it is not the whole story though, but the essence of it. Looking at the woman’s figure there, it is not quite clear whether she has left definitely, or still would like to stay. At the same time, the man does realise that she is leaving, and he certainly does not wish it to happen; he is in anguish, but some part of him is getting distanced from her already, he has transported himself into his trombone, to be there alone. As for her, she realises that it is time for her to go, but deep inside she just doesn’t fully understand why. The drama here lies in the fact that both of them still feel for each other, but in parallel, not in harmony, any more; the bond is about to break. C’est Fini…

There is more behind the Black Trombone painting than one song of Serge Gainsbourg, of course. I just love this person dearly. And also feel it a pity somehow that I had not enough time to bring to The Life of Two of Us works devoted to Leonard Cohen, inspired by him. Those two men are quite different as personalities, but the quality of their extraordinary talent, and the impact that it has had, is similarly significant to me. 

To say a little more about how I see some other works from the collection, Longing is another dear work for me; somehow I do feel particularly sorry for lonely women, and this story is all about that. Black Diamond is a special work, conceptually and technically, and it was prompted by those special Italian nights, unparalleled in their beauty – and their rich complexity. Cappuccino for Two is a story about hopeless love; but personally, I still want to give it some hope, too. Crystal of Love is speaking of the degree of love that unleashes an all-consuming mutual connection. Blue Night’s Ballad is a story of the forgotten memories of two people. This might be not that conventional a concept but I can imagine that it is not only we, but our memories too, that can depart each from the other, sadly. Tuscan Wind is drawn from my understanding of Tuscany, one of my very favourite places. Tuscany for me evokes a quite essential tenderness. Arno Blues is the most characteristic Florentine work in the collection for me. The Florentine evenings, the Florentine nights are a phenomenon in their own right. This painting projects my understanding and perception of Florence – its supreme tenderness, its elegant passion, and that special Florentine charm, indescribable in words.

Arno Blues. 2011.

When completing the collection of those 22 novelettes, I was thinking that my aim in the work of that collection is to stimulate people looking at the paintings to get their own stories out of the canvases. One’s own story is a personal thing, and in my understanding, it must always be treated this way. But if in looking at my canvases from The Life of Two of Us my audience does start to pick up something from there, to understand a story of their own, maybe, something important for them, then this collection of novelettes will have served its purpose, I think.