Drawing in long lines of newly arrived tourists greeted us as we exited this futuristic edifice that is now featuring the Art Collection of the Morozov brothers, Mikhaïl and Ivan.
Born in 1870 and 1871 respectively, theirs was a life immersed in a cultural environment with their mother Varvara, playing an important role with her immense love for France and art. With their immense fortune gained from textile mills, she left a huge part of it to their workers.
The eldest, Mikhaïl inherited his mother’s francophilia and started a collection which at the time of his death at the age of 33 had 83 works, 39 European and the rest Russian.
The second brother Ivan, travelled twice a year to Paris and accumulated an impressive collection of 240 French and 430 Russian works of art. His collection was nationalized following the Russian Revolution in 1917 with the establishment of Lenin’s regime.
Ivan’s home became the first Western museum then and he accepted the position of Vice-director in order to keep an eye on the collection. However, he was forced to flee in exile to Finland and died 2 years later in the Czech Republic at the age of 49. In view of the current political upheaval between Russia and Ukraine, this exhibition in Paris seems to be heaven sent.
I saw Charlie Co’s works in Piotr Kontchalovski’s portraits and my American based cousin Wayne Forte’s depiction of Mama’s Transfiguration in the work of Ker-Xavier Roussel’s “Triumph of Bacchus”. Funny that the first portrait in the exhibit was of a “Five Year Old Boy” by Renoir in a girl’s dress, because I happened to be dressed as such until I was nearly that age!
But what really caught my eye was the room full of Gauguin depicting life in Tahiti, because I took a 15 day cruise on a five masted Skipper that sailed the islands and I saw how similar our lives in the Philippines to these Pacific Islanders – a lifestyle that is fast diminishing with the entry of jeans and tshirts when all we need are patadyongs and not much more for us to enjoy an Arcadian state of mind.
I can still see native Tahitians seated by the edge of the highways going round the islands, entertained by the sight of the cars and tourist buses, whilst the Chinese merchants took care of the village groceries and banking facilities. Gone are those days when my yaya-cook was simply dressed in a floral shift and our labandera was smoking her rolled up cigar in her mouth while our driver-boy-gardener was in crispy khaki pants and white cotton shirt.
With all the millions of pesos that has passed through Negrense families, we only have Osorio’s Angry Christ in the Victorias Milling Company as a true artistic heritage to be proud of. We’re at the edge of a world war and all that people can think of is a cellphone upgrade and where to buy a Luis Vuitton knockoff! Mais, c’est la vie, hélas…
But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, then we share together a common life, and we are being cleansed from every sin by the blood of Jesus his Son. 1 John 1:7*