Jiggy is also doing very well. We play every morning in his little room when he wakes. “Ashee! Come play!” He shouts, pointing to wooden blocks and trains, puzzles and a tiny magnetic fishing pole with magnet-fish. He natters away in French, with an occasional quotation. “You’re breakin’ my heart!” (Ceclia, Simon & Garfunkel). He loves to dance. Holding one hand over his head like a flamenco dancer, he stamps his feet and shouts, “Django Rienhardt!”
Yesterday, my brother-in-law took me to Paris. We brought Jiggy to the crèche at 9 and sped off to the train. From Fontainbleau it was one-half hour to the grand train station, Gare de Lyon. There, we had a petit dejuner at Le Tren Bleu. Colorful, detailed frescoes on the ceiling and walls indicate all the destinations of the station. By 11 am we descended about four stories underground to the “meteor” (fast train) to shoot over to Madelaine, a cathedral situated in the heart of a chic shopping district, near to the Musée Pinacotheque see a terrific show of Hiroshige's influence on Van Gogh. Amazingly it is the first show in Paris to directly address the profound influence of Japanese printmaker Hiroshige on Van Gogh. Although Hiroshige’s influence extended to several other contemporaries of Van Gogh, perhaps his influence was greatest on Van Gogh, who saw Japan in the landscape of Southern France and adapted Hiroshige’s compositions, his marks and his palette. For me, the exhibit was a revelation. I loved to see how Hiroshige drew rain as long diagonal marks, and how an Gogh adopted that method of notation. He also borrowed scenes directly from Hiroshige, recasting them with French figures, landmarks and motifs. But for me the real excitement was exploring the root of my mark-making inspiration. As Van Gogh expanded upon Hiroshige’s calligraphic, gouging marks, I am inspired by Van Gogh’s physicality and strive for a mark, a brushstroke that relates to the whole canvas. At the same time, I look for a certain formal quietude in my paintings. I look to Hiroshige’s elements (horizon, mountain and water bound or bordered by rich, dark blues to reinforce my framing like a stereoscope.
After lunch at a typical brasserie/café we shopped at Fauchon. This tea shop also features decadent gifts in chocolate, marzipan and a variety of specialty foods. Amidst a dizzying concentration of mirrors, pink bows, gold and black tins and fluorescent marzipan, I ticked off my sister's holiday shopping list. Personal shopper in Paris? Not a bad occupation for an afternoon.
When we returned at 5 pm she was radiant and rested.