Showing posts with label sandro botticelli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sandro botticelli. Show all posts

Monday, October 21, 2013

(four seasons...) art & imagination: `blue remembered earth' by alastair reynolds

trailer for blue remembered earth by alastair reynolds

in the thread on the four seasons, i discussed the novel `the botticelli secret' in the previous post. it did not really capture me, but it rekindled my enthusiasm for botticelli's wonderful painting `primavera' (`spring').

it then struck me that the four seasons are in fact a result of our earth revolving around the sun. did you know that the seasons do not have equal length? on the northern hemisphere currently (and for a long time to come) summer and spring are longer than autumn and winter...(see this website on the length of the seasons). the landmass on the northern hemisphere being the larger by far, this is likely to contribute to global warming.

but to be honest, it provides me with a nice opportunity to discuss one of my favourite writers: alastair reynolds. here we have a science fiction author who imagines whole worlds and futures in an astonishingly visionary way. and more importantly, the science in his fiction to me is always daring yet convincing. it is clear that everything is carefully thought out and executed, just like in the `primavera', with amazing eye for detail and yet never forgetting the larger picture.

it turns out that reynolds is a scientist, who worked for ESA before turning professional writer. no wonder then that his descriptions of space and science are so rich. still, no author really captures me if the characters remain too `flat'. in this respect also i find reynolds' books fascinating. the humanity of the (human(oid)) characters is ever present, and rings true.

doesn't it tell us something though, that the word for `imagination' is ... `imagination'? in other words: creating images? a writer creates images in our minds. art and imagination are seldom far apart.

perhaps no coincidence then, that reynolds imagines art-rich africa to be so important in the scheme of things to come. in `blue remembered earth', one of the protagonists (sunday akinya) is a future artist. not only are reynolds' descriptions of her works intriguing, he also manages to capture something of the struggle that each true artist faces, in any time. simply an engrossing and wonderful novel, thank you alastair!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

(four seasons:) botticelli's primavera

primavera by botticelli
sandro botticelli, primavera (`spring', painted around 1482)

still on the topic of the four seasons...i recently read marina fiorato's novel the botticelli secret. as a novel, it didn't really touch me. but reading such `historical' works always helps me to understand a bit about long ago times. there were some strange historical mistakes in the book, but overall i could enjoy it enough nonetheless. (eg. in 1482 the protagonist refers to the statue of david by michelangelo...which was created around 1501-1504... that sort of thing).

the idea that botticelli's primavera depicts some sort of political plot strikes me as far-fetched but is actually a serious academic idea, it seems. i find the regular interpretation (that it is an elaborate allegory on the fertility of life) more convincing. it doesn't really matter to me, the novel helped me to look at the painting once more in great detail, which is a joy. the enormous diversity of plants used is amazing, for instance. and even though i remain ambiguous about any deeper meanings, the painting itself remains alluring in a to me undefinable way. i did not really learn much about botticelli from the book though, contrary to what i had hoped.

Monday, October 7, 2013

finishing/restoring old work 2 (academy days): our lady of the stars and the planets

our lady of the stars and the planets ~ frank waaldijk
our lady of the stars and the planets (own work, 1986-2014, 50 x 57 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

i started this painting somewhere in 1986, when i just started out with acrylics. i was forced to start using acrylics since i had developed a serious allergy against all oil-based paints and their associated fumes already then. this in turn was largely due to my non-stop painting which for years took part in the same room where i slept (me being a poor student).

the painting was a complete experiment, in materials as well as form, and it didn't work out satisfactorily. but the result was intriguing and hung on my wall for well over a year until i finally gave up on trying to improve it. its merits were a certain freedom of expression, but its limitations were severe and i didn't have a clue how to proceed. i always kept it, hoping to one day find inspiration for a reworking.

this reworking took place the last few weeks. once again i had to cross certain unknown lands to get here. i decided to clarify some facial structures, and to simplify the background. then, using some painted cardboard parts that i had removed from the painting earlier, i cut out some stars. used palettes i tried in many combinations, to create planets. and i added seashells to our lady's clothing. i collected those shells last year, during endless walks by the seaside between st. maartenszee and bergen. (i will come back to those shells in a future post, but let me say already here that i picked just one sort, because i thought it would work very well in paintings. the surface of these shells is simply amazing.) of course, planets, stars and seashells refer to the traditional role of maria as stella maris (star of the sea), a guiding light for seafarers.

as in almost all my works, i find a great difficulty in achieving `the' fitting expression. most often it needs to be a mixture between some (soft) sadness, some contemplation, some compassion and some (small) smile as well. [postscript 2014: changed the expression once again, and added some hair make the painting more unambiguously uplifting]

the religious connotation is largely the same as in the `notre dame des anges' series, but i wanted some surprise and childlike qualities in the painting. i'm not sure how well i have achieved these qualities, but i do have a strong sense that it is finished now, and should be taken as it is, with all its history and possible shortcomings. [and it probably has a strong `outsider art' feeling for many viewers. i have decided to not hold back this side of my art, especially when restoring/finishing older work].

madonna and child ~ filippo lippi
filippo lippi, madonna and child (mid 15th century)

filippo lippi was the teacher of sandro botticelli, his influence on his pupil is clear to see. the star on maria in the above painting refers to her role as stella maris.