The Choreographer’s Process: Dance and the Dream of Realities, Part 1

In this series of guest posts, Jason Garcia Ignacio, one of CityDance’s 2014–2015 OnStage Ignite Artists, talks about artwork that inspired him for the Dance and the Dream of Realities performance at the Phillips on Nov. 20.

When undertaking this project, I started by researching Neo-Impressionism and the painters themselves. It was important for me to get acquainted with them in order to understand the depth of their masterpieces. I was intrigued to know their struggles, their journeys and the differences between their philosophies and techniques.

I visited each piece at The Phillips Collection, sat with it, and thought about its resonance to me and to the 21st century. A lot of the structure of my work explores the artists’ insights about their own art juxtaposed by my insights. These contrasting viewpoints add dimension and depth to the dance.

In pointillism, the colors are meticulously separate on the palette, yet together they create a mesmerizing optical illusion to the observer. I can relate to this; I want the audience to view the dancers as separate but whole in their beauty.

 

Angrand_good samarital

Charles Angrand, The Good Samaritan, 1895. Conté crayon on paper, 33 x 24 in. Private Collection

Charles Angrand, The Good Samaritan (1895)

This powerful painting grabbed me. Based on the parable of the good samaritan in the bible’s new testament, it’s both haunting and poetic in its portrayal of the samaritan’s compassion. The duet between the two young dancers blends precision and rawness to convey a sense of vulnerability—an emotion that I feel is inextricably linked to compassion.

Jason Garcia Ignacio, one of CityDance’s 2014–2015 OnStage Ignite Artists

Coming Together in Signac’s L’Orgue

Paul Signac, L’Orgue, Cover design for the composition by Gabriel Fabre on a poem by Charles Cros, 1893. Lithograph with watercolor additions, 14 1/4 x 11 in. Gift of John Rewald. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Paul Signac, L’Orgue, Cover design for the composition by Gabriel Fabre on a poem by Charles Cros, 1893. Lithograph with watercolor additions, 14 1/4 x 11 in. Gift of John Rewald. The Museum of Modern Art, New  York. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The recent panel discussion Neo-Impressionists and Symbolists: Allies and Rivals provided me with a better sense of how artists in the exhibition used poetry and music within their work, sometimes trying to create a synergy of the senses or synesthesia. Synesthesia involves the union of sensation from multiple art forms; for example, one could hear music and see color, or see a painting that evokes music. One of the artworks discussed during the panel, L’Orgue by Paul Signac, is illustrated here. The work combines poetry, music, and visual art.

Created in 1891, the piece is a cover design for a musical composition by Gabriel Fabre—which was inspired from a poem by Charles Cros. Little is known of Fabre other than that he fraternized with the Parisian Symbolist circles, including Signac and Cros. Cros a writer, inventor, and poet, aspired  to create poetry that used evocative imagery and lyrical, rhythmic language.

Charles Saunier, a critic for the literary and art magazine La Plume, commented on Signac’s L’Orgue: “First a melancholy German ballad, a melodious rustle of wind, then the harmonies which…persist quietly sad while the voice dies down. Thus smoke from an altar candle rises blue in the abandoned cathedral. For this melody the painter Paul Signac composed a strange lithograph heightened with color; roses, stained glass, altar candles illuminating a coffin.”

I think this perfectly captures the combination and equality of the arts that Signac created in his cover design; a synesthetic experience that allows the viewer to experience poetry, music, and visual art simultaneously.

Kelley Daley, Graduate Intern for Lectures and Programs

Let’s Be Friends: Relationships among the Neo-Impressionists

Theo van Rysselberghe, The Scheldt Upstream from Antwerp, Evening, 1892. Oil on canvas, 26 3/4 x 35 1/2 in. Collection of Bruce and Robbi Toll

Theo van Rysselberghe, The Scheldt Upstream from Antwerp, Evening, 1892. Oil on canvas, 26 3/4 x 35 1/2 in. Private collection

This Sunday’s panel about the artistic friendships and rivalries between Neo-Impressionists and other artists of the time inspired me to look deeper at the relationships among the artists inNeo-Impressionism and the Dream of Realities. Strong bonds existed between members of Les Vingt (XX) in Belgium and artists in the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris. For instance, Theo van Rysselberghe and Paul Signac were very close friends, and Rysselberghe would frequently visit Signac at his home in St. Tropez. Their time together at the seaside was spent sailing as well as discussing and creating art. Others, including Henri-Edmond Cross and Emile Verhaeren, would occasionally join the two on these trips. In Paris, multiple artists from the Neo-Impressionist movement would live together for periods of time or share studio space. This is the type of environment in which Signac hosted weekly social gatherings, during which painters, poets, critics, and musicians could come together to share ideas. The personal relationships between these artists explains some of the similarities in their works from that time, and reinforces the connection between them.

-Sara Swift, Graduate Intern for Programs and Lectures