Cézanne’s static and timeless light

I’m immersed in the mind of Paul Cézanne at the moment, thanks to Rupert Spira’s insightful essay “Nature’s Eternity.”  (It’s one of the chapters in his book, The Transparency of Things)

Rupert has kindly given me permission to present the whole essay on the awakened eye website, so the last couple of days have seen me in webmaster disguise, delighting in the wisdom and beauty of his writing.  You can read the essay here.

This Unlit Light - Paul Cézanne, Le Mont Saint Victoire
– Paul Cézanne, Le Mont Saint Victoire

I poked around my library for more on Cézanne, hoping to find something pertinent to this blog’s theme – et voila!

Cézanne discards the idea of capturing transient effects.  In the world he paints there is no time of day – no noon, no early morning or evening.  There are no gray days, foggy days, no “effects” of season or weather.  His forms exist in a universal light in the sense of directed rays from a single source, not even the sun.  It is not light as an optical phenomenon to be investigated and experimented with.

It is a uniform and enduring light, steady, strong, clear and revealing, not a light that flows over objects and not a light that consumes them.

It is light integral to the canvas; it is “painted in” with every stroke of color.

It is static and timeless light.

 – John Canaday, Mainstreams of Modern Art (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959)

Quoted in Leonard Schlain, Art and Physics(New York: Harper Perennial, 2007)

(My emphasis.)