Chagall’s Demons

I have always been a huge fan of the Russian-French artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985). Chagall has been described as the greatest Jewish painter of all time, and his surrealist paintings has mesmerized me since the first time I saw it. It was therefore a great honour when I got to see the roof of the Paris Opera House that was painted by him.

His artwork shifts constantly from reality to fantasy, from physical to spiritual, just as his life brought him face to face with different worlds and conflicting sources of inspiration. His use of colour, dreamscape, composition and imagination is both engaging and thrilling.

He was instrumental as a pioneer of modernism, fusing Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism that gave birth to Surrealism.  Chagall was greatly interested in poetry and literature, and I love seeing the overlap.

He went through tremendous hardships and heartaches in his life, which of course inspired and influenced his art greatly. Even though the works seem light, there is a dark undercurrent that speaks of his depth and pain.

Years ago I came across this poem that he wrote in 1945, and I just cannot find it on the internet, so I am hoping that you will enjoy this poem as much as I did when I discovered it.

I am Your earthly son –
I can barely walk
You filled my hands with brushes and colours – but I don’t know how to paint You.
Should I paint the sky, the Earth, my heart?
Burning Cities, fleeing people, my streaming eyes?
Or should I escape,
fly toward whom?
He who generates life here below,
He who dispenses death –
Perhaps He will see to it that my picture is illumined

Marc Chagall 1945

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