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By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

The most distinguishing aspect of my grandmother's house was her huge Jasmine flower pots. In the evenings when we cleaned the yard and put carpet on the large bench there to sit and enjoy the evening air and have fresh fruit or tea, the smell of jasmine would take our breath away. So Jasmine always reminds me of my dear grandmother and happy childhood memories. I turned from alley of my friend's house in East part of Paris early in the morning, one day last month, and was confronted with these two great tall jasmine pots with thousand flowers between them, in a flower shop nearby. Suddenly I was taken back many years and I imagined my grandmother's lovely face and the necklaces which she used to make for me with jasmine flowers every time I went there , when I was older, and I just lost control and tears poured down my eyes. Yes, it was Paris and yes it was spring time, but there I was crying my heart out, but I was not sad as such lovely flowers had reminded me of her. At the time, I was going to a meet a friend I had not seen for a year who had recently moved from Berlin to Paris to do some research for a book he is writing. Later, I was to meet a writer who was one of the winners of a Literary Foundation which I work with in Tehran and I was to present him with his Image 'tandiss' and his certificate which had been signed by great present writers who are all foundations' patrons and founding members. The award was for his book which had won the prize. When I read it, I thought the writer has a very good imagination and sense of life and must have had a good taste of ups and downs of life.

When I met him I found out that he is a musician as well. We had arranged to meet at a cafe in city center, just by a Metro station. I met my researcher-friend first and we headed together to go the cafe. The writer was already there. I introduced myself and my friend. I liked his down to earthiness. There was a depth and peaceful understanding about his world that was most impressive as well. . He was very kind and warm and interesting to talk to. I found him someone worthy of respect yet neither needing it nor demanding it. We parted after a few hours as he could not join us for dinner due to prior commitments.

Everyday that I was in Paris the weather was most wonderful. Warm, pleasant and sun shined beautifully all day, and evenings were cooler but still quite pleasant. The next day I headed for Pompidou Center with my hostess, who took half a day off in order to be with me. We had an early lunch and let the queue to subside. I was delighted when I had realized that the center had a big show on one of most favorite, yet not very well known artists, the Russian born French painter Nicholas Staeel. The work on show was his works from 1944 to the year 1955 after which he sadly committed suicide. The early works of this periods used very dark colors and one can feel the tangle that the artists must have wanted to show or felt at the time. The thickness of paint on canvases to me showed the thickness in his heart as one locked in a deep cold hole. All in all they make one see them as manifestation of his inner trauma and pain which his soul must feel or see.

During this period he painted many small size paintings just like George Seurat the century before him. But in late 40's and early 50's his work lighten up a bit and we see brighter colors and thinner use of paint on canvas. In 1951 we see the first paintings which uses a dash of red. between 1952-1954 he goes overboard and we see paintings which use a lot of red, orange, stark yellow and so on.. To me he is a passionate individual and he makes you fell the warmth and cool of his work which I believe must come from the heart of the artist. It is a great show and I highly recommend it to anyone who is going to Paris for the next couple of months as it is on until June.

Pompidou Center never has just one show. There was also a show on Philip Stark the well known designer. I am sure all of us at some point living in this day and age have come across the items that he has designed. Be it a chair, a clock, a note-holder or even some kitchen utensils. His work was staged in a different form. It was a sort of installation. In a very large room there were many video screens with his vision of the figure of his head talking in French and you could read the translation on the screen above. It sort of made you think that it is just his head cut off or that his body was hidden away. On the screen, his works were shown as he talked about them. Some of these items could be purchased in the special foyer where they were displayed. I must admit it was not my cup of tea, as the English say. I did not like the show but I liked some of his design works and bought a few small gifts to take them home. I popped up to see the great permanent section which every time I have been there show some of many great works that they have in their vaults. I did not have time to see the Chagal's show as well which was in another place, as the next day I had to go back since other duties called. So after spending a lovely evening with my old friend and his friends over dinner, I left lovely Paris until the next time.

... Payvand News - 4/23/03 ... --

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