‘It is only after years of preparation that the young artist should touch color – not color used descriptively, that is, but as a means of personal expression’
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Henri Matisse’ words hint at the spectacle of colour. In the boat repair yard at Tangier harbour, colour can be found everywhere; in the general chaos and disorder, in the grease and dirt of a working environment, in the coiled collections of nets and ropes, in the scarred and beaten hulls of boats, from the rusting abandoned machinery dotting the periphery and on the concrete walls where experiments with paint palettes are tried before committing to the wood of boats. The colour is embellished and intensified by exposure to salt, to sun, to clean and fresh Atlantic air and winds which funnel into the narrow channel between Europe and Africa, an ancient trade and migration route now essentially closed down. The colours, and the addictive melange from the collision of culture and continents, are what attract artists to Tangier. Matisse himself came for 2 winters in 1912 and 1913.
The colours in the photographs are not quite as I found them, but not too far off. Whether they are a ‘means of personal expression’, as Matisse states above is open to interpretation and imagination. They are as I remember them and as I saw them, and as strong and relevant as the other memories above. By seeing and looking and expressing we are living.