When she sees her portrait

Il y a un an, j'ai eu la grande chance d'être invitée à un mariage helvetico-indien dans le sud de l'Inde. Ceux qui ont déjà assisté à un événement similaire sauront de quoi je parle : ce fut un tourbillon de couleurs, de senteurs et de musique. Trois jours de frénésie pour célébrer un amour sans frontière.


Cet événement hors du commun s'est prolongé à travers mon travail et, il y a quelques mois, j'ai réalisé un portrait des jeunes mariés. Ce n'était pas une commande, simplement une envie de revivre cet instant et de m'attarder calmement sur tous ces détails que l'on oublie de voir durant la fête : les nuances colorées des fleurs, la multitude de pierres ornant les bijoux, la sérénité du couple…


Le résultat est le fruit d'une perception et d'une interprétation toute personnelle et je savais qu'il risquait de surprendre les principaux concernés. Il n'est pas toujours évident de se voir en peinture, qu'allaient en penser les mariés ?

#394, 50x60cm, acrylique sur toile, 2014

#394, 50x60cm, acrylique sur toile, 2014

La suite de l'histoire me prouve que j'avais tort de douter. Sam, notre héroïne, n'est pas seulement une magnifique mariée aux petits soins pour son entourage et ses invités, c'est également une écrivain qui publie régulièrement des textes intimistes, poétiques et drôles sur son blog. Si vous lisez l'anglais, je vous conseille d'y faire un tour. J'ai eu la surprise d'y découvrir hier une émouvante description de sa rencontre avec son portrait.


"Laura Zimmermann is a talented Parisian artist whom I know because of good fortune: One of my husband’s best friend had the good sense to date her or we would have never known this outwardly shy but inwardly bold and resolute young woman. She also has the distinction of being the only vegetarian French person I know. She’s more than an acquaintance. She attended my wedding in India in 2013. But sadly, due to logistics and lifestyles we have been just Facebook friends in reality. But all that changed quite suddenly.


I realised that she had painted me from a photograph, which she took at the wedding in India. I happened by it as I was scrolling aimlessly though my Facebook feed and it took me by surprise. This event by itself has mitigated most of my general disdain for sharing in social media. I told my husband about the painting and we decided to contact Laura through her man and ask if we could purchase it.


We have had two weddings, Mr. Pink and I; one in India and one in Switzerland. The wedding in India was with a heavy purpose, and not at all legally binding (hence we had the Swiss wedding). It was a religious ceremony and I wanted it done so as to introduce him to my culture and people in the most hectic, time-consuming and fun way possible. What else is India if not hectic, time-consuming and fun? Though we have thousands of beautiful photographs from both the weddings we didn’t have even one picture of us blown up and framed. In fact I have printed out just one photo on a normal A4 hi-bond paper in postcard format to put in a frame that could accommodate a picture much larger. Contrary to Beyoncé and Jay-Z we are lazy in love.


Now that the opportunity to put up a memory worth adorning our naked walls presented itself – in acrylic on canvas, no less – we couldn’t just let it pass. I found it rather poignant that it also happened to be the first original painting we decided to invest in. Not to mention it made us feel extra good to show support for an independent budding artist.


They came by one Sunday afternoon for an Indian lunch and to give us our painting. From when Laura unveiled the canvas from its bubble wrap cocoon to now, this very instant, I haven’t been able to get away with just a momentary glance  at it. It draws me in and each time at first I look at it as though it wasn’t me in it. This wasn’t a moment from my life. There’s something calm and content about that woman. Something angelic and reassuring. That’s not how I remember feeling at the time. All I seem to remember is the stress and the need to satisfy everyone else’s needs; to make sure none of the Europeans fell sick from all the Indian food and that none of the Indians felt abandoned because of all the Europeans at the wedding. That’s what I remember…at first.


Memory is a tricky thing isn’t it? It’s interesting how I forget that actually during the three days that the wedding celebrations lasted, on the inside, I was content and happy. I was satisfied with my life decision; happy about the fact that I was allowed to marry my true love despite him being of another race/religion/nationality; reassured by the presence of hundreds of well-wishers; calmed by the knowledge that I didn’t have to hide my relationship status anymore from anyone and finally I did feel united with the universe. All the elements that we were exchanging with our immediate surroundings, all of which came from the inception of the universe – cycled through planets, asteroids, plants, animals, people, dead relatives – were with me that day as I vowed to be married to my man not because a legal authority demanded it but because I needed my people to know, acknowledge and respect him as my chosen one. Everything was with me and within me as I made that decision known and I was radiating with everything.


I look at the painting again.


Memory is a tricky thing indeed.


Yes, the woman she has painted – THAT woman – is me.


Thank you Laura for helping me remember."


Merci Sam de m'avoir permis de voir cet instant à travers tes yeux !