Snow took hold of the skeletal structures of the garden, coating seed heads and stalks. Soon the alliums and globe artichoke were extravagantly plumed in winter's coat. Life slowed into strange calm as disarray and decay was covered over, thickly smothered, hour by hour.
From The Lantern
Winters can often be harsh in Provence, for all the luminous skies. When the snows come they can be heavy. In our village they still talk of a winter in the 1930s when the paths up to the village from the outlying hamlets were impassable for several weeks. The school was half-empty and so cold that the violet ink froze solid in the wells set in the wooden desks.
The isolating effect of snow in these hilltop villages is captured by artist Rahim Najfar in this painting, Bonnieux sous la Neige. The beautiful desolation of the winter sky holds pale reflections of spring colours. The exposed trees at the summit are clogged full of snow and wind. And you can almost feel the frozen stillness of the orchard trees lower down, the quiet closing down of life.
Rahim Najfar is an Iranian-born artist works in the picturesque village of Bonnieux, above. I’ve already blogged (here) about the masterly way understands the sizzling colours of summer in Provence. His studio and exhibition space in Place Carnot burst with big powerful landscapes, some completely abstract and always engaging of the senses. Some have Persian-influenced borders which seem to tell his journey here, from his birthplace in Teheran, an academic career as professor of art and drawing at the universities of Farabi and Teheran, to teaching at Aix-Marseille, and becoming an artist who has lived for many years in Provence and exhibited widely abroad.
But this painting is the exception: the winter scene that tells a more subtle story of life year-round in Provence, the contrasts and the cold.
For Rahim Najfar’s website, click here.