I still remember that day, when I entered the gallery at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. And lo and behold, there he was! REMBRANDT and other fellow dutch and flemish artists. I thought I’d never feel the way I felt that day, but I did. Hmmm…that makes no sense.
That tiny tiny painting by Rembrandt, ‘Artist in the studio’! I couldn’t believe that I was looking at it. I had only seen reproductions in books and of all the large paintings in the room, my eyes were stuck on this one. But I couldn’t look at it for too long either…not kidding..but I was so “happy, nervous and excited all at the same time.”
(Statement plagiarized from Grade 8 English book when the school kids get to ride on a hot air balloon…It was the answer to ‘How did they feel?” and the answer was ‘they felt happy….’ hmmm….never mind…)
Now, it was THE Rembrandt painting from the freaking 17th century! Anyways, I was most most fortunate to intern at the very museum later that summer (2008). It was quite quite heavenly, strolling in the galleries, with an intern ID. My job was to assist art classes with the said teacher. Dealing with 6 to 8 year olds was a different experience and I learned a lot, in terms of how to teach kids. I wasn’t getting paid, but I got to take classes too…well, not with the kids. I took a painting class and an outdoor drawing class. That summer I fell in love with the medium called ‘ink’.
So, why the nostalgia of the Summer of ’08?
This past week I saw Chagall in Kathmandu. (Well, technically at Patan Dhoka..referring to Kathmandu as the capital city, the valley). Now few weeks back, the news of Chagall coming to town had prompted me to make a silly comic. But seriously, I really went ‘woohoo!’ in my heart and mind.
I was strolling around the Yala Maya Kendra and then come Mukesh Malla (writer) and Madan Chitrakar (artist) on a motorbike. And in the confusion, they tell me accompany them…’blah..blah..sth about the chagall show’. But hey, I hadn’t been invited. So awkwardly, I stepped into Kanak Mani Dixit’s living room and sat on the couch. Oh hell! I am glad I tagged along.
A cup of tea and some arty conversations, we go up to the top floor. I could have only screamed out loud but that would make me feel like a silly teen who just saw the jonas brothers (or sth like that…).
Right out of their Styrofoam packaged boxes! CHAGALL original posters from the freaking 1970s. Well, the date doesn’t matter. They were Chagalls!!! Oh myan and then again I go all nostalgic.
My mind rewound to Jan 2007, when I worked at my college’s museum. My task was to make the boxes and to package art works by Jane Hammond . And so with bare hands, I use the glue gun, dedicatedly saw the foams pieces, get on my knees, use lots of tape and pack them with great care. And so with white gloves on, I meticulously write condition reports. The pride here, was to able to touch the works! For instance, once I got to move an Andy Warhol i.e. got to touch it.
To non-artists this probably sounds as total rubbish, gibberish ranting. It’s like hmmm…an archaeologist finding a 2000 year old mummy or sth equivalent of that…
Well, that was the day I saw Chagall for the first time and the rendezvous will not be forgotten. And neither will other moments with John Singer Sargent, Antonio López Garcíam, Edward Hopper, Matisse…and so on and so forth.
By the way, Chagall died the year I was born. (go figure :-P)