Félix Fénéon was an art critic and anarchist. Here is Paul Signac’s portrait of him:
Christophe André, in Mindfulness- 25 ways to live in the moment through art says This big spiral, so noisy and beautiful, intrusive and tyrannical, is like our consumer society with its powerful shimmer. It may hypnotise and enslave us, devouring our minds, unless we turn our eyes to the flower. The flower is all [Fénéon] sees.
I wish I knew better what the fashions mean, but to me the top hat, gloves and cane are high society, but the jacket, brown, loose, comfortable-looking, contrasts. Then I look at the line of his gaze- not at the lily, symbol of purity but above it. He is holding the flower out to someone. He holds their gaze, calm and reassuring. Perhaps the someone is me: I have wondered what the painting would look like if the man was holding the flower out towards the viewer, and it might not work.
The picture is very like a vision I had during the Hoffman process, which I have mentioned here before because it still means so much to me. I was in a dark, dingy, corridor, with doors off it. If I opened the doors, I saw incomprehensible swirls of bright, overwhelming colour which I could not bear, yet as I stayed in the corridor it got darker and more cramped. I could not bear that either. And still, for me, the colour is real life, unclassifiable, uncontrollable, yet beautiful. The corridor is rejection and control.
In the flower is truth and beauty- evanescent and yet simple. Here is a human contact with a beautiful man. There is sanity in that flower and in his gaze.
Here is a high definition version of the picture.