Blue Mood by Michelle Hold

Invitation to the Blues «Out to the blue and into the black» was a song
by Neil Young in 1979, in the album «Rust never sleeps». In this game of
words and layers of images, many things are hidden like Elvis Presley’s
death, the war in Vietnam, the blinding fire of Napalm and the sudden fall
into the darkness. Yet all the evocative power lies in these two colors
(the blue and the black) filled with the symbolic character of both and
the game of images. «Out to the blue», in fact is a way to say “suddenly”
like a flash that arrives out of the sky. While «Into the black» tells us
about falling into the abyss of death or melancholy. In between these 2
colors, there is a state of the soul, a movement, a dramatic action and
the idea of disappearing light. In so turning Neil Young’s words 180°, we
could say that Michelle Hold’s painting is moving «Out to the black, into
the blue». The same colors dominate. The black and the blue are the
carriers of many paintings by the Monaco artist, often creating the
surrounding frame, the most important color fields, the background, the
ideal, or the spiritual place from where other colors (yellow, red) make
their appearance, like a knife or the sound of counter tempo notes. Then
there is the same idea of movement: moving from one place to the other,
from one ideal or psychological state to the other and the splitting
between light and dark. Here again, the terms are inverted and the motion
or the searching of the soul does not disappear in the dark but on the
contrary comes out of the darkness and overflows with the light. At the
same time, it is like a way of initiation: a descent into the darkness of
the inferno to make the light shine in a brighter way. Or sinking into
forgetting in order to conquer memory. You need to die to be reborn. Like
Dante, Gilgamesh or even better Orfeo who goes into the Abyss of Hades to
fight with the force of music by enchanting with his voice and his fingers
which caress the cords of his ‘cetra’. For the music overcomes the
darkness and brings light to the soul. «Blue dream», «Catch the silence»,
«And they danced» all attest to that fact. But also «Running on fire» and
«Free your vision» express the rising of light and the subduing of
darkness. The black and the dark blue frame the painting like a border.
From the inside, light is opening up. Sometimes the light is only pure
white but other times it opens in basic colors: yellow, red, light blue.
The rhythm of the composition is based on the violent contrast between
dark and light. The tension always goes towards light and harmony. At the
end of the catalog and exhibition we find paintings like «Just an
illusion», «Soulspace», «Skyfall», where finally light seems to triumph.
Apart from the significant use of colors, which Hold is well aware (“red
for me stands for passion and vital energy, while blue stands for
tranquility and the soul “), her color scheme is like an orchestra. Every
color has a specific role in the composition. We discover that the yellows
sound like “trumpets of sunshine that blow your bones wide open” to say
it like Montale. The reds are like an eruption of the violins covering
everything and other times like the solo notes of a guitar. The black is
a tambour that beats, or a big battery box, deciding the rhythm and the
structure. And the blue is a perfect companion like the low notes in a
rock band, and together with the black, it carries the song…or in this
case, every painting of Michelle. In the end, all of her paintings are
simply songs. Rock songs or blues. Rhythm and blues to be precise. A mix
of reason and feeling, science and nature (“My inspiration is nature and
science“ are her words) the rhythmic, rational line, the sounds of a
guitar like that of Eric Clapton, slow, capturing, sensual, passionate or
improvised or like Miles Davis, mad and impossible to predict. All
Michelle’s paintings are music. So you wouldn’t be surprised that the
painter listens to music while working and many of the titles of her works
are titles of songs. Some we can play and recognize, more or less known
Pop, easy or refined like «We will find a way» by Brenda Russell «And we
danced» by Macklemore, «Somewhere» from West Side Story by Leonard
Bernstein, «One step at a time» by Jordin Sparks, «Just an illusion»
.... Even this game of titles and quotes help direct the enjoyment
suggesting an empathetic approach without rational filters as with
listening to music. And why should we have a different approach while
looking at a painting? Why shouldn’t we forget about judging, forget about
incredibility, leave out the mania vacuous to look for a significant
relation to reality? Only through a “healthy and unconscious desire”, to
say it like Sugar Fornaciari, or through the «Epochè» by Cartesio, if you
prefer we can gain an esthetic experience which goes beyond the daily
routine. And all this rides on the wave of emotion: music giving the
imprint for rhythm, respiration and law. And all this is happening by the
movement of the hands on the canvas, strokes of a brush and palate that
transforms in dance… dance on canvas. That’s why Michelle’s paintings are
immersed in music. With every brush stroke music is touched. They float
in music. And that’s how you should see them. They should be heard like a
song of Tom Waits or Dire Straits, where the music gets into you,
transports you, and makes you dance.
Maybe Michelle Hold’s painting
should be danced.
Virgilio Patarini

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