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A White Night

by mana on March 16th, 2014

The outstanding Chez Mana team launched our Coming Soon pages last month. These pages use the power of art to show a glimpse of the goals that we are working towards. Looking at the pages, I reflected again on the value of this idea.

We often hear about lost dreams, the woman who wanted to become a concert pianist but never did, the couple who wished they had more passion between them, the man who feels opportunities have passed him by. It is an art to create a life of passion. While life can become dull, at times even depressing maybe with the death of a loved one, or just from monotony, we can reshape the material of life just as artists create new art.

Michel Bellaiche, "The World Outside," 2013

Michel Bellaiche, “The World Outside,” 2013

Chez Mana will provide an environment where participants gain a new perspective on life by experiencing social connections, events and the work of talented artists. It will be a place where people open themselves to many new forms of creativity and bring passion into their lives through simple activities. While we cannot all be Van Gogh or Ray Charles, we can still create a life that is passionate and rich in ways that bring us closer to what we dream of. Art shows us how to live and deal with problems better. It is that vision that is at the core of Chez Mana.

Jean-Louis Matinier, Mana Lewis, Gérard Jouannest, "Gréco chante Brel"

Jean-Louis Matinier, Mana Lewis, Gérard Jouannest, “Gréco chante Brel”

Art helps us see things better. I felt this in Montréal when I saw a concert of Juliette Gréco, Gérard Jouannest and Jean-Louis Matinier at the Festival of Lights. Gréco, the symbol of post-war Paris is now 87 years old. She still sings on stage and lives her life as passionately as years ago. Gréco is the last link to the golden age of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. She sings with passion and energy and continually strives to innovate. She sang J’arrive (I am coming) by Jacques Brel and Gérard Jouannest, accompanied by Jouannest and the accordion virtuoso Jean-Louis Matinier. In her black dress, Gréco rendered the song powerfully, a song that talks about death and the regret of getting there. Gréco’s white hands shone brightly in the spotlight. Their movement dramatized the words of the song.

I am coming, I am coming
But how much I would have loved
To drag my bones one more time
To the sun, to summer,
To spring, to tomorrow

I am coming, I am coming
But how much I would have loved
To see one more time if the river
Is still a river, to see if the port
Is still a port, to see myself there again

It was then that I realized how every minute of our life is important.
As we went back to the hotel together, Gréco gave me a glimpse of her long and eventful life. The snowflakes were falling. It was La Nuit Blanche, a magical night of white covering the dark, a night when the museums stay open past midnight, and people come with their friends to look at art, hear music, and be happy. The short-lived beauty of the night made me think again of her song. “This looks like fun,” Greco told me. I thought she has stayed youthful just like the paintings in the museum that we never get tired of looking at. Art is ageless.

Kourosh Salehi, "Stay," 2013

Kourosh Salehi, “Stay,” 2013

The yearning for life is expressed in the painting “Stay” by Kourosh Salehi. It is part of the collection “Children of Adam,” based on photos Salehi has taken in Esfahan, Iran. A woman embraces a man lying inertly on his side. We sense that some kind of separation is imminent. The man seems resigned to the fact almost at ease with the notion, the woman holds on tightly. The red clothing of the woman emphasizes the power of her feeling.

Kourosh Salehi has been deeply moved by the pointless war in Syria, and the suffering throughout the Middle East. People losing loved ones, feeling emasculated and helpless as the world looks on. His work connects us to that anonymous suffering. Art is to see simple things that we pass by.

From → Musings

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