Friday 29 March 2013

Paris Window

The airy tint of peach shines in
Leaving curlicues of grey upon the wall

Angled, the comic chimneys gaze in
Contrasted in height and size and light

Waves of shouting vehicles wafts in
Sounds of a busy world down below

The open window lets my mind out
Whilst emptily letting all envelop me.

Thursday 28 March 2013

Metaphors for embodiment; Or I'm really losing it this time

This is a work in progress taken from my latest essay but it works quite nicely as a standalone piece, I think. This series of Janice Gordon's work was on show at La Specola, Florence's Natural History Museum and I've talked about it in a previous post Hearts of Florence.

The Materia Medica/Metafisica series of portraits are described in the catalogue;
© Janice Gordon 
Gordon has constructed “portraits” using images from antique anatomical drawings, art history and nature, creating them on original 17th century materia medica manuscript pages. The beeswax that has been used contains virgin wax from the apiary at the Benedictine Monastery of Torrechiara near Parma, Italy. While “materia medica” refers to medicinal substances used to heal the body, “metafisica” refers to the aspects of spirit, mind and mystery, which transcend the body
In order to draw out some of the complex iconography, I want to concentrate on one image in the series. The most recognisable feature is the face of Leonardo da Vinci's 1477 portrait of Ginevra de Benci which sits within a profile dissected head, surrounding her face like a halo. A skeletal orange torso with arms folded is affixed to her forehead. The serious austerity of her gaze takes on a sadness due to her slightly tilted face. The lines of her neck continue downwards towards the head and arms of a sleeping foetus which lies over her upper chest, whilst figures in old fashioned diving costumes surround it. Snippets of red musculature, a curved spine, cut ribs and coloured nerves form her shoulders and truncated arms, in a parody of a stiff renaissance costume. The three quarter pose with cropped arms is familiar from other fifteenth century portraits. The beeswax marks the manuscript parchment at the top and bottom of the collage.

Monday 25 March 2013

Fishwives and Cornish Art


As a bit of light artistic relief I have blogged on Cornish art over at Contrary Towers

Sunday 17 March 2013

Poetry of Line

Poetry of line.
A house stands on a morning hillside,
Quivering through the dewy haze.
An Italian scent rising with the sun,
An intense suggestion of shapes.
He looks at the landscape
As if at his palms, seeming
Random collection of sharp marks
To craft soft foliage or
A living hand

Line of poetry.
A collection of domestic vessels
Cluster smartly,looking out oddly.
An Italian scent rising from the cloth
An intense order of natura morta.
He looks at the homely
With a half closed stare, seeming
Creating rounds, fluted and handled
To create solid with light
A living gaze

Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick.

Monday 11 March 2013

Body, mind, water

Embodiment is the hot topic right now it seems. Whether it's the retirement of the page 3 girl, the apparent increase in nudity in London's theatres and performance spaces, or 20,000 year old statuettes, bodies and art are everywhere.

The more I read about embodiment and art, whether from a clinical, philosophical or sociological point of view, it is clear that even if you're looking at a landscape or still life, the body is still present. From the gesture of the artist to the gaze of the viewer, all art is embodied. Once this is understood it would seem that there is little left to say. Which is rather an issue given that I've got 5000 words to find. Perhaps the key is to forget the theory per se and concentrate on the art?

The exhibition 'House of many windows' consists of work by contemporary figurative artists* and looks at how they present the body. Whether it is their own, others or imagined historical portraits. I was interested in  the way the artists depicted their subjects communicating with the viewer.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

An uncontroversial look at art and AIDS

In a week that has seen tentative steps towards a cure for a devastating disease, unforgivable hypocrisy in the church and the cardinals getting together to elect a new pope, rather appositely my class this week was about art and AIDS. Sometimes the connections just beg to be written about, so this is a brief one with a just a few observations on the differences between how governments, artists and commercial organisations responded to AIDS in the early 1990s. 

Monday 4 March 2013

On the Paris Version of Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks

Science of painting reflects the mind’s divinity

Monoliths marshal and stand sentient
Silhouetted against the timeless sky
Nature’s harsh light unworthy to pierce
Mary’s loving liquid tranquility:
Divinity needs no external light.

Only a glow from within illuminating,
Awakening the soul, the mind, the spirit.
A perfect circle of composed gesture
Human intellect a divine conduit
Science/art interpreting art/science

From Dec 2011 when the two Da Vinci 'Virgin of the Rocks' were in the National Gallery

Non Regretful Regrets

So much talk carefully saying so little.
Familiar lines in well known voice
Brings bitter tears to the heart and
Conscious knowledge of what I did. 

Seated comfortably to unfamiliar music.
Familiar response to homelike room;
Fripperies, elegance, nonsense and
Sharpness which is what I loved. 

A gentle hand found in the dark;
Ghosts of scent and senses respond.
Our untogetherness is senseless and
Yet this sweet lovelessness is deserved

All of night spent in careful non moving
Wakeful sleep; no rapid heart beat to
Betray uncomfortable feelings and
So to the morning and I must go.

From a million years ago. Dec 2011

Eyes of a Stranger

Strangers eyes meet
A smile exchanged
Do they see my inner glow
Rivers of pure lust
Bubbling up
Recognition of what is to come?

A fascination of feelings
Unstoppable in intensity
A curve of shapely lip
A glimmer of sparkle
Eyes drop downwards; time to run.
For him a semi regretful departure?

From Nov 2011. An exchange of tweets reminded me to put it on here.

Friday 1 March 2013

Failure is never an option

The last time I wrote a non post it was during the research stage of my first essay. And here I am again writing something before the second. It's as if I need to pause, and take a deep breath before diving in again.

As I was walking up to Mile End this morning I was mulling things over. I got that essay back yesterday and the mark both did and didn't astonish me. I was superficially pleased to get a merit because the nagging little voices had told me I'd failed. They've always told me that I'm not good enough to even pass comment on any matters of depth and complexity.

Temptation of St Anthony (1510)
Essays for me are not just sitting down and writing. Recently they have taken on an increasing malevolence and are oddly enough my new extreme sport. Essay v Clare. Like the essay is the demon to be articulated, structured and beaten into an acceptable readable form.

Deep down I know I'm capable of writing anything about anything. My choice of topic last time with a more than adequate result proves that, but the essay-devil in my head has thrown down another gauntlet from his endless poisonous supply. Despite the result and further evidence of my academic abilities, the irrational side of me suggested that this is just setting me up to fail at the next one.

This is one crazy non post with which to pause, but perhaps I need the terror of failure to keep trying. Failure is not an option, therefore, neither is giving up.