Sunday, June 10, 2018

Le Chemin

Acrylic on gessoed mounted birch panel, 7 x 5"
painting #263, 2018

I've just return from a one month stay in Europe. My main goal was to return on the Camino and complete the Puy Way in France that my wife and I had started last year. In 2017, we hiked 270 km from Puy en Velay to Figeac over 10 days. My wife would suffer a knee injury and we were forced to stop here.

This year, I flew to Paris alone and did some sightseeing for three days before catching a train for Figeac. I had planned 19 days to complete the 480 km trek from Figeac to the French-Spanish border town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. By day-4, I would encounter my own problem by accumulating 12 blisters on my feet. After a week on the Camino, I decided to stop in Moissac for the weekend to give my sad feet a break. I would resume my hike for another week. The two days off and having to arrive one day ahead of schedule because of an on-going train strike, would force me to leave the Camino on day-16 since Aire-sur-L'Adour was the last town I had access to public transportation. In summary, I hiked a total of 335 km over 14 days plus 2 days of rest. I was very fortunate to have so many wonderful encounters and made many new friends during the whole trip. 

I took full advantage of my time in Europe by spending three days each in Paris, Bordeaux, London, Dublin, Ireland /Belfast, Northern Ireland. I visited in excess of 30 museums, galleries, venues and countless churches which included: 

  • The Louis Vuitton Foundation, L'Orangerie, le Musée D'Orsay, Musée Rodin, Panthéon, les Invalides all in Paris. 
  • Le Musée-des-Beaux-Arts, Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. 
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Museum, the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, the Saatchi Gallery, the Chelsea Flower Show - all in London.  
  • The National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Guinness Storehouse all in Dublin.
  • The Titanic Belfast. 

This small painting was a gift to my friend Philippe and his wife Dora (an amazing classical pianist) who graciously invited me to stay with them during my three night stay in Paris. I met Philippe nine years ago while hiking the 800 km of the Camino Francés in Spain. We've kept in touch ever since. It was great to see him and meet his family. Last year, he completed both the ultra-endurance races of the Marathon des Sables in Morrocco in the spring and the Marathon des Sables in Peru in the fall. This composition features a Tintin figuring of Cigars of the Pharaoh resting on Le Pèlerin de Compostelle (The Pilgrimage) by Paulo Coelho. The book was published in 1987, a year before his runaway best seller, The Alchemist. The image is infused with symbolism that represents Philippe very well, not only for his athletic abilities but for his humanity as well. 

Private collection - Paris, France.