Besides having an incredible urge to paint “Songs of the Earth”, I had absolutely no idea how to do it! For 2 or 3 months, I was literally cursed… I read and reread the poetry, listened and re-listened Mahler’s music – nothing! This music and the Chinese poetry, on which it was based, contained something imperceptible, some kind of mystery, which I just couldn’t grasp. I was ready to forget about the whole thing 100’s of times – yet I couldn’t, the “Songs of the Earth” were haunting me.

And then, one day something clicked! I just knew that I could do it, though the mystery was still there. I guess that it was precisely this imperceptible something, which attracted me so much! Considering the history of the transformation of the “Songs of the Earth “, from 8 century China to the beginning of 20 century Vienna, from Chinese to French ,from French to German and knowing that Mahler himself reworked it considerably and even added his own text ; and finally considering the Chinese philosophy where nothing is just right and nothing is just wrong ,one is part of the other – I felt a certain liberty to interpret “The Songs of the Earth” in my own way.

I would say that the poems guided me in the general composition of these paintings while Mahler’s music influenced the mood and the colors. Poetry, and especially music, has the power of being vague. It doesn’t provide us with all the answers, and therefore we are forced to use part of ourselves in order to translate this vagueness into something more precise. It can work both on the conscious and subconscious level. As a result, each interpretation is different from the other. And like in Chinese philosophy – where are no right or wrong interpretations. Though figurative art is much more concrete than music I hope I was able to keep at least a little bit of vagueness in my “Songs of the Earth” paintings!

“Song of the Earth” cycle was created for the 2001 I Musici de Montreal performance of Mahler’s Cycle.