Utrillo and the Japanese public
We find several responses to the attachment of the Japanese public to the work of Maurice Utrillo. Intact poet, innocent and revealing of the soul of reality more than of its concrete presence. He has constantly engaged the eye of the observer in the perspective of the streets which lengthen and move away on a narrowed field of vision.
Steep stairs from his dear Montmartre. Saint-Pierre and Sacré-Coeur Church of Montmartre, cathedrals of France. The painter seeks absolute purity. The divine through prayer, mystical inspiration on the whiteness of the stone he shapes with a trowel, like a mason of the apocalypse.
While in Japanese painting, shape and color are rendered without any attempt at relief, while European methods seek relief and illusion.
I think that from this illusion Utrillo protects himself from his own death.
Wou tao-tsen, the greatest of all chinese masters, was sent, said where, by the emperor to paint a river, back at the Palace, to everyone's surprise, he had no sketch to show "I have them all in my heart" Memory regrets all that is of no interest. These artists weren't tempted, like those who work from nature, transcribe superfluous details.
We also find in all repeat subjects and more precisely the Moulins de la Galette, the Agile Rabbit and the streets of old Montmartre with Maurice Utrillo, a work of memory for painting these landscapes. He gets in touch with the hills and with the streams he wants to represent.
In Japanese art, opposing styles from TOSA and KANO schools. In the Kano school, red and green are sometimes the only colors used, the rest of the table being in silver gray or black. Red and green are also Maurice Utrillo's favorite colors, sometimes dominant in certain landscapes of his art.
"The most beautiful Buddhist paintings have an extraordinary ability to draw the viewer outside of himself and his concerns, to transport it to the ideal atmosphere of their own. On the contrary, in a large number of European paintings, religious at least by name, sacred figures are filled with the desire to impress the viewer ; they are gesturing, they point, they open their arms, smile, conviction; but I fear that too often they will only excite us to resistance or reduce us to indifference. »
– Laurence BINYON - Introduction to painting from China and Japan, 1908.
Japanese audiences are still impressed by the excessive behavior of a Van Gogh who cut off his ear, by Maurice Utrillo with more than five years of galley cloistered in a cell, behind bars, imprisoned with madmen, after trying twice to try his life. A miserable painter who proclaims a love song to the glory of his mother, Suzanne Valadon: "A woman mistress", "A woman of genius" he proclaims in his writings.
This painting directed by his brush at the tips of his fingers is placed for a few months on the picture rails of Japanese walls, as a token of eternal gratitude for the enthusiasm of its audience, Japanese audience.