I don’t know why this tidbit of news that I read from a newspaper gets stuck in my head for almost 30 years: an art teacher takes his class to the museum that is showing an all-red minimalist painting to “protest”; he asks his students to paint their own all-red painting at the museum to mock the museum curator, why he would consider such a simple single-colour painting worthy of exhibition. I knew what the teacher was thinking – the artist pushed his luck with a piece of “art” that probably didn’t take him much effort to create and he succeeded, while all the excellent artwork that took “better” artists years to create didn’t get the admiration they deserved.
I think my first reaction when I smelled Serge Luten’s L’orpheline was probably the same as that art teacher’s – “What? Uncle Serge, you think you can get away with a simple two-note perfume? (Incense and ISO E Super)” However, after wearing and smelling it for a while, I start to get it… it is quite beautiful, elegant and poignant, and there are subtleties in its simplicity. Maybe that’s why it’s called “The Orphan?” – you are born unprivileged, and you have to work very hard with the very little that you have to impress and achieve, and the admiration from others all goes to the perseverance and the struggling, not the work the orphan has accomplished?
Well, a red painting is still a red painting, I can only give the artist credit for designing a mood and an awe, but the appreciation of the artwork, to me at least, is limited, and cannot be compared to, say, The Coronation of Napoleon.
I wonder, if it was not Serge Lutens who released this perfume but a new start up perfume company, would it get the same reception?