Art: Edvard Munch – Love and Angst

One of the largest show of Edvard Munch’s prints and woodcuts in the UK for 45 years is now being held at the British Museum until 21 July 2019. For those who may not be familiar with the artist, you would certainly recognise the “art’s most haunting and iconic face”. A piece of artwork that is so renowned that it has become an emoji!

Despite being considered as one of the founding fathers of Expressionism, very little is known about him. The exhibition aims to shed light on the Norwegian painter by exploring the political history of pre-war era Europe, particularly Oslo, Berlin and Paris where Munch travelled and found new influences. As you wander through the exhibition, it delves into Munch’s unconventional Bohemian lifestyle and beliefs which moulded his art and innovative printmaking techniques.  

Expressionism

Expressionism focuses on emotional experience above all else, particularly the isolation and anxiety of modern existence through highly intense and non-naturalistic brushwork. Expressionism is generally applied to the art of the twentieth century where it is said to have started with Vincent Van Gogh but included others such as Edvard Munch, James Ensor and later, Egon Schiele.  

Expressionists are in contrast to the Impressionists, where the goal was not to reproduce the impression suggested by the surrounding world but to strongly impose the artist’s own sensibility to the world’s representation. Expressionists explored the psyche; the focus was on dramatic and emotion-laden themes, particular qualities of fear, horror and the grotesque.

During the pre-war era, Expressionists reacted to the increasingly industrialised lives and sense of isolation. The artists developed a powerful mode of social criticism through their artwork. This included representations of modern cities through alienated individuals, including prostitutes (think Egon Schiele) who were used to comment on capitalism’s role in the emotional distancing of individuals within cities

The art movement rejected the dominant styles and subject matter of German visual culture at the turn of the 20th century, instead, found early inspiration in the flat patterning and bold forms of The New Art movement. Expressionists looked for inspiration beyond European art and culture to native folk traditions and tribal art; such as African and Oceanic art; as it was then considered to be primitive and unevolved.

The movement flourished from 1905 to 1920, particularly in Germany and Austria. However, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, this led to the end of the Expressionist movement, with most of the artwork removed from museums and confiscated from private collections.

Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944)

Edvard Munch was a prolific yet perpetually troubled artist preoccupied with matters of human mortality such as chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspiration

Born in 1863 in the village of Ådalsbruk in Løten, Norway. Munch grew up with an older sister and three younger siblings. The family moved to Oslo in 1864 and became the start of his personal struggles and anguish. Munch became familiar with death. He lost his mother to tuberculosis before he turned 13. He lost his much-loved sister nine years later to the same disease. His younger sister was diagnosed with mental illness at an early age and his younger brother passed away shortly after his marriage. 

He, himself, also suffered from a poor immune system and was kept out of school for months on end. To pass the time, Munch took up drawing and painting. His father would often read ghost stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which instilled in the young Munch a general sense of anxiety about death (unsurprisingly) and how it constantly advanced on him.

There was a constant conflict with his father who Munch considered as “temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious”. Munch enrolled in a technical college in 1879 but frequent illnesses interrupted his studies and in the following year, Munch dropped out to pursue painting. This cause further friction with his father who deemed art as an “unholy trade”. However, this did not stop the budding artist from enrolling at the Royal School of Art and Design of Kristiania in 1881; where he started to seek an alternative bohemian lifestyle. 

During this time, Munch discovered the writings of the anarchist philosopher, Hans Jæger, head of a group called the “Kristiania-Boheme”. Jæger advocated for sexual freedom and individualism. They formed a close friendship and it was Jæger who encouraged Munch to draw from personal experience in his work. This led to the painting of The Sick Child (1885 – 1886) which served as a memorial to his favourite sister.

https://www.edvardmunch.org/the-sick-child.jsp
The Sick Child, 1885

In 1889, Munch travelled to Paris to study at the studio of Leon Bonnat and continued to explore the themes of death and personal loss.  Munch’s father passed away that year, and Night in St,.Cloud (1890) served as a memorial. It was after this period, where the Frieze series and related works were the artists most popular and artistically significant period which is the period that the exhibition focuses on.  This was the period, where his signature paintings The Scream (1893), Love and Pain (1893-94), Ashes (1894), Madonna (1894-95), and Puberty (1895) were all created.

https://www.edvardmunch.org/madonna.jsp
Madonna, 1894

Exhibition

Munch’s art is not for the faint-hearted as it explores the fear, gloom and angst of his personal Expressionist art. When entering the exhibition, the first painting is a sombre self-portrait; jet black apart from the face and a skeleton arm placed casually on the bottom of the painting. Considering the pains of his past, death is at the forefront of Munch’s art. It is not hidden or subtle but a print version of The Sick Child, The Dead Mother and a print from woodcuts of The Death in the Sick Room is an emotive depiction of loss, almost too painful to look.

The exhibition focuses on his lithographs, woodcuts, drypoint prints and etchings, Munch’s skills seems unrivalled; by using different mediums and methods his prints are just as vivid and haunting as his paintings. His bohemian lifestyle also meant that Munch explored the representation of women’s bodies. The lithograph titled Madonna is of a beautiful woman but contrasted with a curled foetus in the corner of the painting makes it sinister and dangerous.

https://www.artsy.net/artwork/edvard-munch-madonna-3
Madonna, 1895/1902

Munch seemed to have a difficult relationship with women, he was afraid of marriage and his love life was confusing. He was only engaged once to Tulla Larsen but that relationship ended with a gunshot wound to the finger, of which an x-ray is displayed in the exhibition. Some of his most impressive were his works are from the Frieze of Life series where he depicted a love affair through the kiss, love, pain, jealousy, betrayal and despair. The inspiration for his work has been suggested to be his tumultuous relationship with women and the shock and fear associated with the power and passion of women. 

Munch was a prolific artist where he produced more than 1,000 paintings, 4,000 drawings and nearly 15,400 prints throughout this career. Therefore, it is no surprise that he has influenced many artists after him. German Expressionists painters such as Kirchner, Kandinsky, and Beckmann also expressed their individual psychology through intense colour and semi-abstraction. Munch’s influence even extends to Francis Bacon whose portraits reflect the sitter’s psychological turmoil as is manifested in skewed facial and bodily features. 

It is hard to shake off the melancholy of Munch’s work when leaving the exhibition, yet the British Museum has managed to shed light into the life of the artist that painted one of the most famous paintings in our Modern History. Recommend – 3.5 out of 5 Pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

For other reviews of the exhibitions, please see the below links:

Thought of the Day: Monotony

Monotony

Thank you to all my readers for your kind patience with my erratic posting schedule this April and May. The various bank holidays in England and my trips away have wreaked havoc to my usual routine. There is so much to share with you but it seems that there are not enough hours in the day to fit everything in.

Continuing my journey on self-compassion, I have tried to be kinder to myself by being less critical when I don’t achieve 100%. Yet, I have not been able to stop an encroaching sense of guilt for not completing things I have set out for myself; such as my blogging and dedicating time for other projects that I care about. Though I had previously recognised it would be a long journey in developing self-compassion, my impatience with the lack of progress is also holding me back which then slows me down even further…

In the past few weeks, I have also developed a trapped sense of monotony: the everyday churn of waking up, travelling to work, work, commuting back home or going to the gym, chores, washing and, sleeping. This feeling does not go away, even when my routine has switched up, such as seeing my friends and family during the holidays. No matter way I do, I couldn’t seem to shake this feeling of monotony. 

Monotony

When researching this topic, there is a clear link between boredom and monotony, but in my opinion, they should not be used interchangeably. As previously written on the blog, it is possible to embrace boredom from time to time; it can be used to stimulate creativity. However, I believe that monotony is chronic boredom and tips the scale to negativity. There are others who have argued otherwise and believes that monotony frees up time to think about other stuff.

Monotony is defined as “lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine.”

I believe the key emphasis is on “tedious”. Monotony impacts an individual differently, where some people cannot live in monotony and require frequent and or excessive changes in their lives. I believe I am one of those people, so much so that I would get upset if I have the same lunch and/or dinner two days in a row (but I am fine having the same breakfast every day; don’t ask me why!…)

On the other hand, other people become used to it. It is also possible that certain monotonous activities can become an “addiction” because it is so comforting, such as a drinking a cup of coffee/tea in the morning, or having something sweet after dinner. I struggle to agree with this argument and rather melodramatic. Can’t something be routine without it being monotonous? There is nothing wrong with seeking comfort in predictability but can monotony be negative to our mental wellbeing? 

Routine vs. Monotony

From the readings (though there is not much on this topic), monotony is bad. However, there are many advocates on the positivity of monotony whereby it is possible to make life simpler and calmer because monotony creates a structure which results in a calm feeling and removes decision making. The simplification of your life helps you conserve energy for things are more important. 

However, I fundamentally disagree with those arguments. This is because I believe that the articles confuse routine with monotony. The fact I brush my teeth in the morning and night is good for my dental health, or going to the gym three times a week is good for my physical and mental wellbeing. Yes, it takes away decision making and allows my mind to wander (similar to boredom), however, this is a routine, not monotony. Routine is monotony without the feeling of “tediousness”. For example, I really dislike dusting the house and associate it with something negative – whenever I complete the task it feels very monotonous. The fine line between routine and monotony is, therefore, in the mind. It is important to recognise the signs and then be proactive to change it. 

Mental Health Check

Through the course of writing this blog post which has taken me several weeks; I have had the chance to step back and assess my mental health and I believe that the following may have triggered my negative mental state. 

  • Lack of reading – I have been struggling to find a good book to get my teeth into. I was reading “Start with why” by Simon Sinek but was couldn’t engage with the book, so I thought I would change it up and read “Little History of Philosophy” by Nigel Warburton, but was not taking much in. Finally, reading “Unnatural Causes” by Richard Shepherd kicked me back into my reading routine and mentally felt better and refreshed.  I am really surprised by how reading has become such an important part of my mental health. Others have also found that this can help with monotony. [Note: not paid for the links, just thought I would be helpful!]
  • Lack of Time Out – As an introvert, socialising is really tough. I love spending time with my friends and engage in deep meaningful conversations but it takes a toll when I am doing it multiple times a week. I was not listening to myself and allowed social obligations to dictate my diary instead of being strict with my time and recovery
  • Lack of Routine – As emphasised previously, having a routine does not equal to monotony. With many friends visiting and travelling to Vienna & Barcelona, I did not follow the comfortable routine I have developed over the past few months, particularly when spending weekends to visit art galleries or museums; (I had to squeeze in a lot of activities in one day rather than time to reflect after the visits). This has also meant that I have not spent much time with my boyfriend which is never a good thing! 

By failing to recognise the importance of routine and checking into my mental health, things that were pleasurable had become monotonous and negative.  

Other Tips & Ideas to Break Monotony

There are others who have suggestions on how to “escape the monotony of life”.

  • For those who are adventurous, I would suggest checking out this article. Clare Healy focuses on the need to being outside and also travelling, such as becoming a weekender nomad by visiting and staying in other cities to break away from your normal routine. 
  • For those that need convincing that you are number one and it is important to invest in yourself, read this article here. It is a great article on overall life tips (not necessarily to tackle monotony). The key take away points are that you should always invest in yourself, whether a nicer holiday away or learning something new – you are always worth those extra pennies. Take risks and own your own time.

In the past few weeks, I have read more and tried to resume my routine of going to the gym and galleries. I can feel myself slowly recharging and become my more positive self, and not surprisingly, life is feeling a little less monotonous! Have you ever experienced monotony? How did you overcome the negative mental hurdle? As always, I would love to hear from you! 

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. For those who are sporty, a sports example of routine vs monotony can be found here

Art: Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning (1)

Until the 9th June, Tate Modern has curated a large scale exhibition of Dorothea Tanning’s work, bringing together 100 pieces from paintings to sculptures spanning her 70-year career. The exhibition is organised by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid in collaboration with Tate Modern and curated by Alyce Mahon and Ann Coxon.

Dorothea Tanning

Tanning was born in 1910 in a small town of Galesburg, Illinois, where, she said, ‘nothing happened but the wallpaper’. As a result of this boredom, she filled her time reading Gothic novels and poetry which greatly inspired her early work. Only in the 1930s did she travel to New York to pursue her artistic career, after briefly studying painting at the Chicago Academy of Art. During this time, she supported herself by being a commercial artist, including advertisements for Macy’s department store. Her first encounter of the Surrealism movement was the 1936 seminal exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art – Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism. This had a profound effect on Tanning, which resulted in her travelling to France in August 1939 with letters of introduction to artists including Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso. However, when arriving in Paris, the country was at the brink of war and she had to return to New York without meeting anyone on her list.
It was only until 1942 was she reunited with Ernst, who fled from France and became a refugee in New York. The two moved in together about a week after Ernst viewed her work and persuaded his then-wife Peggy Guggenheim to include Tanning’s self-portrait, changing the exhibit entitled “30 Women” to “31 Women. In 1944 Tanning was given her first solo show by Julien Levy after being impressed by her creativity and skill in commercial illustration. Despite the success of the exhibition, the newly married couple in 1946 moved to Sedona, Arizona and settled there until 1949 where they both relocated to Paris, though continued to spend time back in Arizona. It was during this time where there was a significant shift in her style of painting, from the very dreamlike detailed paintings to abstract brushstrokes. The next few decades were a time of great experimentation from painting and sculpture, to writing and poetry.

Tanning only returned to New York in 1980 four years after Ernst died. She completed her last paintings in 1998 but continued to write focusing on poetry until she passed away at 101 years old in 2012.

Surrealism

Surrealism was a movement that emerged from Paris in the 1920s, with a focus to explore the complexity and hidden workings of the mind as a source of art, as well as writing. It principally grew out from the earlier Dada movement before the First World War. According to The Surrealist Manifesto published by André Breton in 1924, Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality.” In other words, they sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination.

The work of Sigmund Freud was influential for Surrealists, particularly his book, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) which legitimised the importance of dreams. This was particularly prominent in Tanning’s work where she is known to depict her dreams in great detail. Surrealist imagery is probably the most recognisable element of the movement yet difficult to define as each artist relied on their own recurring motifs. Nature is often the most frequent imagery, where Max Ernst was obsessed with birds, Dali’s work included ants and eggs, Tanning included dogs, particularly Ernst’s pet Lhasa Apso named Katchina.

Exhibition & Favourite pieces

“Looking at Tanning’s work is like entering into another universe,” explains the exhibition’s curator, Ann Coxon. “She is interested in everything that lies behind and beneath the facade of the everyday.”

The exhibition starts off with one of her most important works; the painting that turned 30 to 31 women and ended a marriage. Named by Ernst as “Birthday” this painting marks her birth as a surrealist. After their wedding and relocation from New York to Sedona Arizona, doors become a prominent feature in Tanning’s work. The door is a surrealist symbol and represents a portal to the unconscious. It is in this room of the exhibition, where you see the infamous painting Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1943); though my favourite is the Self Portrait (1944) which depicts the vast empty landscape of Arizona, yet appears unsettling and claustrophobic, as if there is nowhere to run.

Having moved to Paris, her art starts to change from the intricately detailed drawings of Birthday and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to much more abstract depictions of family, interiors and the dining table as illustrated in Portrait de Famille (1954) and The Philosophers (1952). The mid-1950s was a time of change for Tanning as her style of painting completely changed and her composition and brushwork became more abstract and fluid, and merging of bodies is depicted in Insomnies (Insomnias) (1957). Though in this room, the painting that is at odds with the others is Pour Gustave l’adoré (1974) as she uses a very rich and dark colour palette.

Tanning explored maternity during different stages of her career and her paintings are from idyllic and from my perspective, frightening. Maternity (1946-7) is the most famous of these and the soft sculpture Emma (1970) made from dirty antique lace frills makes this room particularly difficult to see or enjoy. Hidden in the corner of this room of the exhibition, is the surprising Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (1970–3) where stuffed figures are placed together into an unsettling installation, it is dark and gave me goosebumps as it brings back scenes from Stranger Things.

Tanning changes her medium again in the 1960s where a lot of work was in the form of soft sculptures. Using textiles, pins and other objects she crafts bodily sculptures which come across as playful and erotic such as Pincushion to Serve as Fetish (1965). Yet, the sculpture that should be highlighted in this room Tweedy (1973) and its accompanying turd.
For further information on the exhibition, please refer to the exhibition guide found here.

Celebration of female artists

Not surprisingly. like many women before and after Tanning. Her work was overshadowed by her husband’s fame. She once wrote about herself that “Her existence as an artist was dramatically compromised by her existence as Max’s wife, but love triumphs all,”.

Despite this, it cannot be disputed that Tanning was an accomplished artist who had a profound impact on the Surrealist movement, as well as subsequent generations of artists. Her exploration of the female form meant that she was often associated with the feminist movement. This included her own portraits where Tanning incorporated her gothic self-image which was cultivated from the novels she read in her childhood. Tanning also explored motherhood in detail even though she never had children herself. The works themselves were hauntingly beautiful but sad. Motherhood may have been considered but her art reflected her issues and thinking around this.

“Women artists. There is no such thing—or person. It’s just as much a contradiction in terms as ‘man artist’ or ‘elephant artist’. You may be a woman and you may be an artist; but the one is a given and the other is you.” – Dorothea Tanning

Tanning was not keen to be known as a feminist and did not want to be categorised. Despite this, she has become a role model for women trying to break free from the restrictions of womanhood to become artists and continues to influence artists today.

How many pineapples?

A hauntingly beautiful exhibition, a must see – 4.5 out of 5 pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Happy Easter!

Hi everyone,

There is a slight pause on our usual posts this week on the Pineapple Chicken Blog as I spend time with my family in Vienna.

Have a wonderful Easter and time off this bank holiday weekend! Usual blog posts will resume back to normal next week 🙂 and I have lots to share!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thought of the Day: Self Compassion

Self Compassion

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to another long read on the Pineapple Chicken Blog. Last week, we discussed confidence and it was a chance to embark on a long but hopefully positive journey. However, this week I seemed to have taken a step back. It was a particularly difficult week and I could feel that I was not myself.

I have been trying to lose weight for my own personal health and to feel more comfortable in my own skin. But let’s be honest, there are social pressures to look a certain way especially when I spend so much time on Instagram looking at other inspirational women. However, this week I managed to put on weight which was extremely frustrating. I tried to “fail forward” by telling myself that it was a poor result but I need to push myself for the next coming week and lose what I put on and more.

Though this is not the main reason for my poor mental health this week, it certainly was a catalyst and impacted my relationships with others. I was taking a lot of issues back home; though my boyfriend tried his hardest to get me out of this “funk”; it proved to be futile. I am very grateful for my supportive network, but messaging my sister and communicating it with my boyfriend made it worse. My feelings of inadequacy grew because I had to reach out for help and inconveniencing others. Frustratingly, I was unable to effectively communicate how I was feeling and I just “couldn’t just get over it”; which then furthered spiralled into negative thoughts on how I could not get anything right. Worst still important people in my life think that a lack of confidence is “unattractive” which went back to the topic of not looking attractive and I put on weight this week, and this was an obvious fact to prove my inadequacies…the spiral goes on. 

This is why I wanted to focus on self-compassion this week. I know that I am very self-critical, however, I believe I need this to push myself forward and be “successful”, “effective” and “high achieving”. I have days where I believe that things are going right and feel awesome but these are plagued by many more days when I look and the mirror all that is staring back at me are my faults and flaws.

Self Esteem

Through my research on this topic, it seemed to be important to distinguish the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion, they are very different and I have been too focused on the wrong thing.

Self-esteem is defined as your feelings about yourself (positive or negative), as well as how you think other people value you and feel towards you.

When we become concerned about our self-esteem, it is necessary to compare yourselves to others. This is how you judge whether you are “better” or have “progressed” further than your peers. My constant comparisons are: Am I earning enough? Am I as successful as them in my career? Do I have the same comforts/lifestyle as them? They have already bought their dream home, when will I ever afford mine? They are getting married, will I ever be married? Do I look as beautiful as her? How do I get myself as slim as her?   You are probably thinking, girl, get a grip! Why are you comparing yourself to others? Though it is clear that I am overly concerned with my self-esteem and what I think of others and what others think of me.

It is clear that my thoughts are negative and for someone who stresses out really easily, it is a double whammy of emotions (Something else to work on…). In such instances, the body’s primitive response kicks in – the fight or flight response. In order to motivate yourself, do you judge yourself harshly and yourself a mental kick to push harder (fight)? Or do you run away and avoid the situation altogether and just “shut down” (flight)? I certainly can recall situations where I have selected the fight or flight response, or flip-flopped between the two.  High achievers consider themselves with more at stake because it is necessary to maintain an image of competence or success. The faster you are sprinting any little bump along the road will trip you up and the harder you will fall and any trip is seen as a failure. 

Being over concerned about your self-esteem does not help to build resilience. Self-esteem is fragile and forces us to becomes dependent on the acceptance and praise of others. In the era of Instagram and a constant online presence; the search for instant gratification and recognition by others through “likes” or “followers” has had a negative impact on our mental health, particularly mine. I recognise the irony that I write a blog and have a presence on Instagram as well. I could just turn away from it all but social connectivity is also fundamentally a human trait. For me, I wanted to tackle the issue more head-on than to remove my online presence but noting that this is not for everyone. There are more and more books coming out on digital detoxes etc.

If self-esteem shouldn’t be the focus, then what is self-compassion and why is this a better model?

Self Compassion

Self-compassion involves applying a sense of warm, positive regard towards yourself. It does not differ from the compassion you give to others. It is when you can empathise and appreciate that things don’t always go according to plan and it is okay to make mistakes. Self-compassion is just when you do it to yourself.

Without it, you are faced with feelings of negative self-esteem. The feeling you are unworthy and in its extreme form could develop into addictions, unhealthy relationships, hollow success, or material possessions. I am sure my boyfriend would say I have fallen into the material possessions category! This can potentially go on to negatively impact your mental wellbeing and develop into mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

From my readings, I understand that it is necessary to work on my inner struggles and learn to love myself. Do not be mistaken that self-compassion is not self-pity. It is not an “excuse” card nor a lazy way out. It is not a sign of weakness. Self-compassion requires vulnerability and the courage to face our insecurities as this is the way to learn self-compassion and acceptance.

“The first step we need to take on the path toward self-compassion is to embrace the most simple and basic fact that when our emotional immune systems are weak we should do everything in our power to strengthen them, not devastate them even further,” – psychologist Guy Winch.

When talking about self-compassion, it is nearly impossible to ignore the research by Dr Kirsten Neff who has also published a book on this topic. I have not yet had a chance to read it, but if I ever get a chance I will give a review when I do! She defines that self-compassion has three components

  1. Self-kindness vs. self-judgment – it is being understanding towards ourselves and recognising that it is okay to be imperfect and that life will throw things at us, but that is okay. If we accept this as inevitable then we can be kinder and sympathetic to ourselves
  2. Common humanity vs. isolation – it is to understand that you are not the only one suffering and that all humans suffer. You are not alone.
  3. Mindfulness vs. over-identification – self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to negative feelings. You have to be mindful of those who are suffering around you and putting your own situation into a larger perspective and try not to get caught up in your own negativity. It means you have to be open to your own emotions and not be judgemental.

If you are interested in learning more, there is a test to check how self-compassionate you areI got a score of 2.23, which unsurprisingly is considered low in self-compassion. A score of 2.5-3.5 indicates you are moderate, and 3.5-5.0 means you are high. It is all well and good knowing a score but the key question is how do we develop more self-compassion? 

Cultivating Self Compassion

  • Practice Mindfulness/Meditation: This is linked to the three elements of self-compassion above; if you find yourself listening to your inner critic and telling yourself stories about your own inadequacies, this is known as over-identification. Be mindful and aware of these thoughts. Acknowledge them and just push them away. The below video is a little exercise you can try for yourself and for those who would like to learn more about standing up to your inner critic, please see this article here
  • Give yourself permission to be imperfect: Stop punishing yourself for your mistakes. It is totally acceptable to fail. You need to accept this feeling, giving yourself the permission might make it easier to accept how you are feeling
  • Express gratitude: I think this is also a topic that is big enough on its own, but feeling a sense of gratitude is very powerful. There is a lot of strength in appreciating what we have right now and who we are right now. Embrace that and you may notice you will develop a gentler voice and move the focus away from our shortcomings.
  • Work with a supportive therapist or coach: Remember my tips are from my own research if you feel that you need extra help, always go to a professional! They are trained to see through all the negative beliefs and can help you find your way back to the amazing person you are and always have been.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. As always I would love to hear from you, so leave a message below or on other social media channels. Remember you are awesome and worthy, so be kind to yourself and others.

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Pierre Bonnard – The Colour of Memory

Pierre Bonnard
The Mantelpiece (1916)

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory is the first exhibition at the Tate since its previous exhibition twenty years ago. It will be available until the 6th May, so for all those who wish to go, I do recommend to do it soon! Tickets are priced at £18 per adult. 

Monet and Matisse are household names, but Bonnard is not an artist I am familiar with. This is why I am so glad there are so many wonderful institutions and curators in London organising exhibitions. There is always an opportunity to build up knowledge in art history. On a side note, have any of you completed short courses in art history? I would be really like to attend one but I don’t know which ones are worthwhile!

My review below has been inspired by Tate’s own blog post on the Eight Essentials to Know About Pierre Bonnard.  

History of Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard was born in 1867 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, Hauts-de-Seine. He was the son of a prominent official of the French Ministry of War, and upon the insistence of his father, Bonnard studied law at the Sorbonne from 1885 to 1888. Whilst working in a government office, Bonnard attended art classes at École des Beaux-Arts and later transferred to Académie Julian. He became an artist in 1890 sharing a studio in Montmartre with Maurice Denis and Édouard Vuillard. 

Les Nabis & Colours

During the 1890s, Bonnard was a prominent member of Les Nabis, who were a group of artists that saw themselves as prophets of modern art (talk about bigheaded much?!). They favoured a bold yet simplified style of painting. Bonnard was particularly famous for his use of colour, and throughout the exhibition, you will notice the intensity of colours ranging from the very light to the deep and vibrant. A great example of this intensity and one of my favourites is Bathers at the End of the Day (1945). It has been said that he was inspired by the Impressionists, including painters Paul Gaugin, Jean Renoir and Toulouse Lautrec which is definitely evident throughout the exhibition.

IMG_20190407_104624
Bathers at the End of the Day (1945)

Nudes & Bathtubs

Personally, I think one of the greatest influences on Bonnard’s work was his wife Marthe de Méligny. It is nearly impossible to imagine the paintings without Marthe de Méligny, I didn’t count how many paintings or photos were of her, but a majority of the exhibition had her presence. 

She was often the inspiration for his paintings of nude women and the many baths. The baths were partly medicinal as Marthe had a tubercular condition and obtained relief from the water. These simple yet intimate moments were some of my favourite paintings by him.

He met Méligny in 1893 and she remained an ever-present subject of his paintings. Defying convention at the time, Bonnard did not marry Marthe until 32 years after they had met. However, this was only after his numerous affairs with younger women, in particular, Renee Monchaty, who tragically took her own life the year Bonnard and Méligny married. 

 

Still Life & Memory

Many of Bonnard’s paintings were of simple everyday life. He was an Intimist and often painted still life and other domestic scenes. He rarely painted from life, most of his paintings would start out as sketches from memory and then he would paint in his studio. This allowed Bonnard to add details and complexity to all his paintings. He was freed from the constraints of the “moment” and could transform his sketches with his imagination. One of my favourite paintings is Coffee (1915), where there is a weird looking dog (he really can’t draw dogs) in the corner of the table perched on this vivid red checkered table cloth. It is so simple yet captivating. I also seem to like paintings of food in general, because The Table (1925) is also one I really liked.

Picasso vs. Matisse

It turns out that Picasso really disliked Bonnard yet Matisse was a fan. When visiting the exhibition, you can understand why there are such divided opinions regarding his work. Upon reviewing my pictures of the paintings for this blog, they were obviously a record of the ones I liked the most, I can really understand the allure of Bonnard. I was drawn to his use of colours and perspective in his paintings. Many of my favourites were of his wife such as the nudes and the bathtubs. 

However, Bonnard seemed to lack consistency, which is where I side with Picasso. There were definitely other paintings where the proportions of the people or faces were very distorted that I had to question whether it was purposeful or was it just sloppy? I mean just look at the mother and child, or the woman in the foreground in Piazza del Popolo, Rome (1922). 

IMG_20190407_102215
Piazza del Popolo, Rome (1922)

Who do you agree with the most – Picasso or Matisse? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, so please drop me a note below!

Overall, I would give the exhibition a 3.5 out of 5 pineapples. It was well thought out and thorough exhibition of the artist’s work. At least by the end of it, I felt like I knew him a bit better and could draw my own conclusion as to whether I liked him or not. 

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

For those who would like a little more detail, the Tate has a wonderful introduction to the exhibition.

P.S. these other reviews just made me laugh so I thought I would share.

Thoughts of the Day: Confidence

Confidence
Welcome back to another Sunday Read on the Pineapple Chicken Blog, this week’s key theme will be on confidence. This is a topic that is close to my heart because it is something I struggle with which meant that this post was particularly difficult to write. Given that I am no expert on the topic, clearly, it is necessary to research and delve deeper into the subject. I believe it is something I have to tackle head-on and make the effort to understand. The internet seriously has an abundance of information. Today, we will just scratch the surface but I hope to keep on discussing it in future posts. Ultimately, the question I want to answer is: will increasing my self-confidence bring positivity to my life?

Firstly, I wanted to thank all my readers for commenting on my blog post “Finding Your Passion”. This completely made my day! I love interacting with you so please do keep sending your feedback/comments through all the various channels. The reason I mention this was because some readers commented on how it can be extremely difficult to find support for their passion or they raised concerns about whether they will succeed; whilst others were extremely positive and believed that “you can do anything when you put your mind to it”. To me, what differs between the two, was the level of confidence in themselves.

What is confidence?

Confidence is about the faith you have in your abilities, the person you are, and how you view your most important relationship — the one with yourself.

Confidence is attained when we’re prepared and self-aware enough to appreciate who we are, faults and all. Being able to appreciate yourself means that confidence can only develop with true belief i.e. you got to believe yourself with conviction. You are not fooling anyone when you are not being true to yourself as we all know that this is not sustainable. Self-belief or confidence has to be authentic, you just can’t fake it.
Confidence is the belief in your own capabilities to succeed, by being confident in your own abilities today, it will reflect the level of performance and mastery you can develop in the future. Basically, it is the key ingredient to drive you forward.

Self Doubt

Confidence touches your past, present and future. It is key to success and requires inner reflection and appreciation of your own self. Honestly, it is no wonder that I do not have much it! Just thinking about my own capabilities and how it will shape my future just makes me hyperventilate. The little voice in my head reminds me that I am not good enough.

Self-doubt is a feeling that is more familiar to me. I understand it stems from fear and negative thinking because I feel it. I have realised that I have consistently stopped myself from trying harder or pursuing things I am passionate about because of the fear of the unknown.

Fear and self-doubt lead us to believe the risk associated with trying something new is greater than the risk of remaining in our current situation.

I have an overactive imagination where I would think of worse case scenarios rather than focus on positive and constructive thoughts. These thoughts are constant spectres in my mind: What if I tried and did not succeed? What if that person doesn’t think I am intelligent enough? What if what I do is just a waste of money and time wasted that I would never get back? What if I am not a good enough girlfriend? What if they don’t think I am good looking/cool/funny enough? The list can go on…

Lack of self-confidence stems from the negative stories we tell ourselves. It is our own imagination and often this is disjointed and distorted from reality. It is unlikely that the people around you are scrutinising your every move and looking out for your mistakes. We need to spend more time listening to our strong inner voice – the voice that says you got this!

Why is confidence important?

Understanding that self-doubt is negative to my mental wellbeing, it would be logical to assume that confidence is important and positive for my wellbeing. Confidence makes all the difference to your hustle, according to this article confidence is how successful people overcome daily obstacles. Confidence is a self-administered magical cure!

Without self-assurance, we are more likely to move towards having negative “perfectionist” traits, such as extreme procrastination or avoidance. You can imagine that without confidence, we would avoid trying something new, we wouldn’t want to push ourselves and, we would become stagnant by avoiding any situation which might cause stress or embarrassment. When we hold ourselves back; it takes away our freedom to be ourselves.

Confidence is critical. It’s an essential ingredient of happiness, an unequivocal component of success and the one thing that stands between us and the person we wish to become.

Cast your mind back, can you recall the last time you felt confident? When you looked in the mirror and thought – looking good? Or after giving that presentation and you couldn’t stop smiling because you knew you kicked ass? Confidence is a positive emotion; it makes you feel good; it makes you glow. It’s an emotion that yields greater self-worth, more happiness and enjoyment, greater strength and capabilities, freedom from social anxiety, and of course — more beneficial and enjoyable interactions with others. Like I said – this magical cure!

Though in all seriousness, confidence seems vital for my path to positivity; so the key question is, how do I build more confidence?

How to build confidence?

Note that the list below is not exhaustive. From my recent searches, everyone has tips and tricks to build more confidence. My list below is just a selection of tips I have read and think are important. If you would like to see more, just let me know in the comment box below!

  • Self Compassion – This is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself. This is why I have put this on the top of the list. I have said this many times before but the message never gets old because I find this difficult myself. You need to have a good relationship with yourself; stop giving yourself a hard time because you don’t deserve it. Stop letting the self-doubt overpower you. You are great and strong; totally embrace it and believe it.
  • Self Reflection – Complimentary to self-compassion is to also be honest with yourself. Self Reflection is necessary, we are not perfect and there is room for improvement. If you want to take that step forward then you have to self reflect. This is not your opportunity to be negative. Start noticing when you’re telling yourself stories. It’s those stories that dictate the way you act, and when they’re negative, your ability to be true to yourself is compromised. Self-reflection is a constructive and positive process. With self-compassion, liberate yourself from your negative thoughts and with self-reflection embrace the courage to improve.
  • Take ActionIt seems obvious that confidence is part of success but one cannot be successful if we don’t turn our thoughts into action. Sometimes it is necessary to think less and take action. As discussed in the topic of passion, you just need to do something. Confidence is the same process. You can keep listening to the negative thoughts in your head – that little voice that beats you down. If you just become deaf to it (even only partially) and just take that first step forward, you are already on your journey to building confidence.
  • Avoid Perfectionism – I have discussed this topic in depth before, but it is really interesting how it is tied to confidence. As mentioned above, we have to notice “perfectionist” traits because it really stop us from having the freedom to be ourselves. Allow yourself to fail because you learn from mistakes, not successes.
  • Comparison to others – not much to say about this as it is self-explanatory. Don’t get me wrong, it is necessary to calibrate where you are from time to time. Comparison to others should be used to check whether you are heading in the right direction. It is not a destination. If you are using it to build on your negative thoughts about yourself. Stop it – it is a waste of time and energy. Nobody has time for that!

I would like to be a person of my word, thus, I will be trying these techniques for myself and will let you know if any of them help me more than others to build my own confidence. I recognise that this is a long and difficult journey, so will keep you posted.

As always, I really would love to hear your stories. Are you a confident individual?

  • If yes, AWESOME, do you have any other tips for me?
  • If no, you are amongst friends and I encourage you to take a step forward and join me on this journey. Be brave – you got this!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x