We did cave and buy a painting last night- but just a little tiny one to put in the entry. Unfortunately its not on the website, I don't have a scanner, and we won't get the actual painting for another week or so I can't show it quite yet. The poor gallery manager wasted probably half his evening trailing after us, but if there is one thing you can be certain of in this world, it is that B and I will never like the same painting in a gallery so there was a lot of going around in circles, both literally and figuratively, trying to decide what to do. B wanted a giant vertical painting of trees and I wanted a small horizontal one of a house reflecting in a lake. So we tried to compromise and find something else but after an hour and a half, B finally agreed that the small piece was fine and the decision was made. This was a lovely vernissage and they had tons of (cheap) champagne going around (as if I get out of the house so often that I should complain about details like that) so I parked myself in a corner on a chair with a glass, to leave B and the gallery owner to battle it out over the price. B is such a barricuda when it comes to stuff like this, he won't pay a dime over the price he has fixed in this head, no matter what. I always think that we are going to end up skulking out, with our tail between our legs and no painting at all, but it hasn't happened yet. He just beats them down until they cave. When I am an old lady, I'll probably totter back and slip an extra bill or two in the man's pocket when B's not looking, but for now I can manage the guilt.
Of course, the money in his wallet was supposed to be used to pay for our airplane tickets. I am hoping that B hasn't made an executive decision and moved our holidays to, I don't know, two weeks in Lille. Hmmm.
The nicest thing was that we managed to have a really good chat with the artist, M. Charel, when the crowds thinned out at one point. He paints a lot of landscapes with misty rivers running through them, similar to the painting on the Actualities page on the galeries site. After 6 years of looking at the painting that we already own and wondering about it, I was very curious to know if he was painting a specific landscape or if it was an imaginary scene. He said that it was just images from his head and that, in fact, he wasn't inspired by any specific place. I feel that his river scenes look very much like the north of Europe, Flanders or Holland, which he said had often been remarked by people. But he said he had heard just as often that they reminded people of different places in East Asia or South America. I think that one of the most enjoyable things about his art is that it is so mysterious and really inspires the imagination. At the same time, the colors and the simplicity of the images he paints are very serene and so enjoyable to look at day after day. Part of the reason that I was so happy to buy another painting by this artist is that I am sure that of all the art that we have bought, these are the two that we will never get tired of looking at.
So I enjoyed meeting the artist but I had the feeling that he was really ill at ease with the whole "smoozing with the public" thing. We had actually met him a few years ago at the Foire du Arte Contemporain at the Bastille so I mentioned this to him and he immediately answered, "Oh, that was a very bad period for me..." Enter the awkwardness. Well, its hard to follow up that sort of comment and despite my best efforts to steer the conversation to more superficial things, we found ourselves bogged down in a long and possibly drunken discussion of how everyone hated the portraits which he had been doing at that time- although I did manage to head him off when it seemed like he was getting ready to tell us a very long and clearly intimate story about his muse. The small-town midwestern girl in me was dying of mortification, all while smiling brightly, brittlely, and wondering if inhaling the glass of champagne in her hand would make things any more bearable? Thank god for smoking breaks. I swear, when they outlaw smoking entirely (which I imagine will happen any time now) how ever will people deal with awkward situations? All you rabid anti-smokers out there should give that a good hard think.
So, after a nice dinner, we stumbled home quite late and I immediately remembered that I had sworn to make it an early night so that I would make it to music class on time on Friday morning. I dived into bed but I had one of those nights where you are so desperate to sleep that you can't fall asleep and then so scared that you will oversleep from the exhaustion that you wake up ever 10 minutes, from 5 am til the alarm clock sounds. I am a zombie today and have wasted Ella's entire nap time typing this post and emailing friends.
Ella is dragging me off to cut and glue shapes. I curse the day I ever showed her that game...