Cezanne in the Wind

 
Last Sunday I realized I’ve lost my beloved camera – a cherished companion from a dear friend along with a great number of pictures which I procrastinated to transfer into a backup device. A lesson learned. I regretted for a good hour – mentally retraced my steps from the previous day in Aix-en-Provence chewing on each detail with a marrow of hope, cursed my carelessness that is all too familiar and finally I guiltily accepted my loss. To cheer me up, I was kindly treated to a Sunday hike at Les Tholonet – a micro village on Cezanne’s route. After all staying glum will not bring back my camera so I made a choice to be happy and enjoy the day.
Paul Cezanne was born and buried in Aix-en Provence, a Provençal town in the South of France. Surrounded by the prettiest of countryside and a short distance from the azure of the Mediterranean Sea, Cezanne was wholly devoted to the beauty of this region and many of his paintings depicted this infatuation. “When you’re born there, it’s hopeless, nothing else is good enough” Cezanne
At Aix – I walked in Cezanne’s path, from his birthplace to the atelier up in a hill. A route marked in gold, preserving the memory of their most famous citizen. Born to a wealthy banker and raised in strict order, Cezanne formed a special bond with Emile Zola – one of France greatest writer. Although Zola was a struggling child in class often difficult and stubborn Cezanne took a liking to him and together they explored the country to its horizon, sharing dreams of greatness and aspirations. It was his childhood friend who found the gift in him but in time L’Oeuvre, a novel written by Zola would eventually end this deep friendship. “I must be more sensible and realize that at my age, Illusions are hardly permitted and they always destroy me.” Cezanne
Paul Cezanne led a life of solitude. He guarded his loneliness with quiet fierceness. He rarely had visitors, and friends – even less. Occasionally he leaves to Paris only to return almost immediately. He exhausted the hours painting in an endearing rhythm, setting out at dawn from his townhouse to his countryside home and then back to his atelier. Such was the life of this old man popular in a community that regarded him bohemian some even branding him a madman. “ The world doesn’t understand me and I don’t understand the world, that’s why I’ve withdrawn from it” Cezanne
Cezanne’s route doesn’t end at his atelier but continues on into the Provençal countryside. One of his main subject was Montagne Saint-Victoire which he painted over 60 times and at Les Tholonet we begin our hike into this famed mountain beloved by Cezanne. As we walked, Cezanne’s landscape revealed itself in mocking likeness – views of ochre villas typical of those in Provence. Umbrella pines casting dancing shadows, providing shade on hot and sunny days. Cypress trees erect and strong, unafraid of the wind. Olive trees bursting with tiny flowers, absorbing water from the dry red earth fiery in the sun…a thousand shades of color that can only dazzle and bring sight to the blind at heart. “for an impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations” Cezanne
Up there with the wind under the breath of the mistral, we absorbed Cezanne and his scent was Rosemary and Thyme.
* The photos above were taken with a cell phone
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