I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest last Friday to see the Ferdinand Hodler exhibition and here are my brief thoughts.
Just like Hundertwasser, Hodler is a painter whose works seem great in pictures but once someone sees them in real life, it is significantly more impressive due to the vibran colours (of course, every painting is best in real life...). But somehow I can't adore Hodler that much. Though I love him for his visions and colours, the problem is that no matter how emotional his paintings are, I always find the very same feeling in almost all of them. While with many other painters I admire I find something different in all of their works, with Hodler it is different. Even if his paintings depict different things, I always feel the same. Of course this feeling is positive but I can't find that plus in his paintings. But it is also true that his works show out-of-world figures, therefore it causes a supernatural yet sad emotion in the viewer. The way he depicts suffering is particularly remarkable in the drawings of his dying lover Valentine who died of cancer.
The Dead Valentine
My other problem with Hodler is that he painted a large amount of landscapes. I admit they are well-painted but I simply can't like ladscapes, no matter if the artist's signature says Cézanne or anyone else (Caspar David Friedrich is an exception because he managed to make ladnscapes express empotions other express with figures). But here are the works I did like very much and these are the reasons why when I hear Hodler's name I think of a visionary genious instead of a painter I dislike.
Day I - probably the most famous. It is so vibrant I quite simply find it impossible to hate it.
The Night - terrifyingly and bizarrely beautiful and awakens dark and fearful emotions.
Truth II - the woman who reigns the world; someone who is so powerful and tempting men don't even dare look at her. Someone who sees the lies behind every word, someone who will punish all the sinners. If Hodler were a woman, I would say it's his (her...) most feminist painting. But since he was a man, I can only say: brilliant.
The Chosen One - Hodler loved worshipping figures and especially loved to paint many similar figures with one different in the centre. Maybe this is why I find him great yet homogenic.