The Politician
By Pierre H. Matisse

What I cherish most is my freedom.  Some artists try to make a direct political statement with their art.  I find this difficult.  When the Nazis saw Guernica from Pablo Picasso they asked him if he did that? (degenerated art they thought) Pablo answered:

“No! You did.”

Absolutely extraordinary!  What courage artistic and otherwise, as well. 

    My politics are based on uncompromising freedom.  I would like every human being living on planet Earth to be free of tyrants.  My art is based on freedom and love.  Freedom first.  Without freedom I could not create art.  Freedom is not something one gets in degrees.  Either one is free, or he or she is a slave.  There is no ‘in between’ in freedom, you are either free or you are not.  No gray area in freedom period.  That is why I immigrated to America, to be free, and why I am a naturalized American, and very proud of it.  My four children are Americans.  I wanted my children and my grandchildren to be free.  

    Victor Hugo used to say, “If you are not involved in politics, politics will be involved with you.”  How true.  I saw it first hand in Europe when I was a kid from 1939 to 1945.  In those days I got a bitter historical lesson right there on the field, complete with sound and smell, stereophonic and all, a very realistic history lesson, believe me.  From time to time I had the unpleasant opportunity to be on the front row.  Trapped like a rat, in an air shelter, the sound of bombs terrorized me.  The brutal occupation of my country by the Nazi, the starvation, the fear.  One day we were free, the next we were slaves under the Nazi’s boots.  I cherish my freedom because I have experienced oppression. 

    My father didn’t produce much art during the Nazi occupation, he was too busy fighting for our freedom.  I used to go with him at night to rendezvous with British submarines coming through Gibraltar to deliver allied spies to us.  They would spend a few days in our home, until it was safe for them to go on to their secret missions.  Hidden in our house we had explosives, sub-machine guns, pistols, a small Morse radio in a discrete suitcase.  All very exciting for a teenager.  The great adventure in three  dimensions.  There was a bad side to all this.  If caught we would have been tortured first, then shot.  We all knew that...  It didn’t stop us.  Sometimes my bones were shaking like hell.  It was only my nerves.  Me?  I was not afraid.  Who said, “Give me liberty or give me Death?”  Patrick Henry, an American, I like that.  

    I have a knack to find myself in interesting places at the most interesting moments.  In WWII I found myself on the battlefield in Normandy.  There, I saw first hand the price of liberty.  The currency of freedom was being paid by the Allied soldiers, cash blood- right there, under my eyes, on the spot.  Cash on the table, right on the line.  No credit.  Freedom is certainly not cheap but it is essential to the meaning of and quality of life.  Today as I write this it is being preserved and protected by our troops around the world.  I love freedom. 

    Art is freedom.  Freedom and love are essential to my work.  My country gives me my freedom; my sweet wife gives me her love.  Without these two primary entities I could not create anything of value, and my life would be meaningless.  Then I would have nothing to give.  I would love to see my audience experience freedom and love through my work.

This is what I want to share with the world, if only I can truly be able to achieve that, wouldn’t it be wonderful?