Milano Triennale - Michèle Vasarely
At the time we met, our idols were The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Victor Vasarely.
Their posters covered our bedroom walls. From his first wink on the instant I arrived in his home to our last conversation on the eve of his passing away, I have felt nothing but the deepest respect and devotion for him; even more when, aged and abandoned by glory’s spotlight, the man had suddenly eclipsed the artist...
Those who have met Victor Vasarely can never forget him...
Vasarely was entirely dedicated to his art, the only real center of interest in his life. He had exceptional energy, determination, capacity for concentration; he worked day and night to create and spread his work around the world. Impregnated by a visionary perception of the future ever present in his writings, he foreshadowed the dramatic technological upheaval leading to the 21st century, only emphasizing on its advantages. Fascinated by nature’s mystery and complexity, as his reading lists would attest to, he was deeply concerned with science in all of its aspects, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large.
Sociable but solitary, rigorous but unkempt, he had a keen, flirtatious look, a subtly seductive touch, an ever so charming voice with an irresistible foreign accent... an artist above anything else... a man as well, captivated by feminine beauty, attentive and a good listener. It was impossible to remain unmoved by his slightly snobbish elegance that characterized the men of a generation now gone!
Armed with a rare integrity and an acute intelligence, he had talent, sensibility, and intellectual depth, as well as a sense of humor that embraced the unspoken and the implied, not to mention the detachment of the aristocratic he truly was. His presence radiated a force that charged his words and gests with an overpowering magnetism.
He was one of those beings that have been created to make us believe in Man. His generosity was legendary, and if all of these qualities were not enough, he was graced by a charm that he displayed until the end.
Galaxies, cosmos, atoms, molecules these were the subjects of many our conversations. He was conscious and frequently complained of having been born a century too early. A man convicted of an abstract and codified future, who nevertheless led a rather traditional life, interned in his studio and his thoughts.
Victor Vasarely never truly had access to new technology, despite being one of the rare artists to fully integrate its concept in his artistic research. Already at the twilight of his life, he was overjoyed and perplexed the first time he saw a fax machine. Even then he demonstrated an amazing acuteness regarding his work. I remember the day I brought to him my first exhibition’s catalogue, of which I was so proud. He examined it in detail, and jokingly asked me “who was this great artist”...followed by an exhausted critique of all the mistakes...paintings reproduced upside-down, syntax errors and misspelled titles: nothing escaped his sight and wit...what a lecture!
Our last conversation was not very different from our usual exchange of jokes mixed in with his life consuming preoccupation about the future of his work: will it survive? Leaving the room, I softly closed the door behind me.
He called me back and said, “I count on you.” By the next morning, he withdrew to the other dimension. He taught me the meaning of perseverance and determination, this super-human force we must invest in everything we do, the courage to not allow the superficiality of everyday life dominate our existence. His example hammers on my spirit, his words come back to me, they obsess me at times, everything he invested in me, everything he asked of me has turned my life upside-down and given my life true sense.
The artist himself wrote in 1936, “Art must be the subtle intersection between reason and feelings.” He was the perfect mix of both.
Beside his work, he left behind him the image of a conqueror, of a being with a different consistency, magical and superior, contemporary extension of the infinite enlightenment.