The gallery was packed and the generosity of our hosts,together with the animation of our fellow-guests, made it difficult to examine the paintings in any detail, so it was only subsequently, over a number of visits, that we were able to look with a measure of tranquility and to engage with the work.
The exhibition is entitled Rencontres – meetings or encounters. At first sight, and from a distance, the paintings might be decorative, abstract patterns. In this sense, as I overheard someone say, they are ‘easy to live with’.
But look more closely and you see that those motifs are in fact figures – they are real people - and that what one is witnessing here is a series of encounters, of meetings. And what fascinated me was the imaginative creation of narratives to describe, explain and clarify the hundreds of individual interactions which make up each painting.
But each figure exists only in relation to the others: to its immediate neighbours and, through the group, to those more distanced, more separate.
In other words, each painting is proving that there is such a thing a society, that we are defined by the company we keep, that we celebrate our humanity in community, in companionship, in camaraderie.
Each painting is showing us that we are never completely isolated, that ‘no man is an island’.
Each painting is portraying us, each of us, as one element in series of connections which are both general and particular. As one drills down to the specific figures, one appreciates that, if ‘to particularize is the alone distinction of merit’, then Unity has achieved this.
But she has also forced us to consider wider and more universal questions about our position and role as members of humankind.
Rencontres closes on the 19 of June. If you are anywhere near the Gard, I commend it to you.If you can't, check out Unity's website: www.unity4art.com.
Today's listening: with Jill back in the UK visiting her new grandson, I have been able to check out some of the less travelled items in my collection. Today, it's MC5.