13 Jun 2011

The strangeness of Odilon Redon

The painting and graphic work (a lot of it using pastels) of Odilon Redon has fascinated me for ages. It is strange and almost eery at times. He was part of the symbolist movement in France about which I know little. There is a major exhibition of his work on in Paris at the moment and I really should go along and learn more. Here is something to look at in the meantime:


  1. A difficult concept in graphic arts, symbolism.
    Being Belgian, I’m very sensitive to it, as my country was in a way the cradle of this – largely POETIC – movement. But surely Edgar Allan Poe, had a part in it as well. I would say symbolism creates a link between an intellectual idea and the “image” that should represent it. A drawing, or a painting, or any morphological representation is AS SUCH an image, in the physical, material meaning of this word, whereas in poetry, or in tales, the image is built in/by the ... imagination (fantasy) of the reader (or the audience in the case of a play). Therefore, symbolism appeals to the “receiving end’s mind” to create the link. We must admit that, in anything VISUAL, the image is pretty much imposed upon us.
    True, I’m one of these bloody atheists, but on the same line I fully understand people create an image of God (or at least a divinity), whereas I cannot understand how one can actually “draw” God. It is possible to write about, say, “Goodness”. It is very difficult to actually draw goodness.

  2. As another "bloody atheist" I appreciate your attempt to enlighten me on the sense of the symbolistic movement. Drawing symbols is probably not that easy either. What is certain is that Redon's work does convey a sometimes fascinating strangeness to me that goes beyond whatever degree of physical representation it may contain.