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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Room and Us

* Jan van Eyck, Suckling Madonna Enthroned(1436)

Jan van Eyck might be notable for his great details to the landscape and the infusion of that to the almost sculptural, grotesque figures of men, but this acclaimed painter never paid much-needed attention to the accurate proportion. Just look at the volumnousness of Madonna’s robe clashing with the unpractically slight forms of her throne and the baby. The narrowness of the cell, on the other hand, provides a rare intimate fixation on Madonna and her baby, but an underlying anxiety of claustrophobia might lurk stealthily somewhere. The suckling baby looks upon at once warily at his mother- Madonna’s maternal gentleness hardly overcomes the baby but the world, in which he was fortunately born, escapes his youngish vision and its wonders are yet witnessed by this pure soul.

Him and I are appointed to sit a person’s house until that person comes back. Clock is ticking away, inflicting that person on a crime of being unpunctual and going bac…

The Tree

* Van Gogh, Road with Cypress and Star(1890)

Cypresses have featured in numerous paintings of Van Gogh. The leaves and branches stretch and pitch to the zenith, yet such vision of the cypress bears more unnervedness than hopefulness. With the painter’s characteristic speckled treatment of brushstrokes, series of overlaying swirls are dimly created, with the cypress seemingly to mingle gradually into them. The tree cut the painting roughly into two parts, with a sun and a moon occupy each firmament. It is doubtlessly grotesque to have a sun and a moon in concurrence, but if this painting could be interpreted as one’s blurred and gradually faded memory, then the swirls and the anomaly should be duly explained. While the shape of one’s retrospection is at risk of distorting itself and dissipating into the ever-increasing swirls, the colour of it swells and fight tenaciously on the verge of being vanished for good.

People have dreaded and warmed their young not to approach that tree. The tr…

The Masquerade

* Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge(1892, 1895) Lautrec’s love for caricature is apparent in the figure’s rough and sketchy lines and unprimed background. Balls and cafĂ© scenes have been adopted by numerous French painters, extending back to the Impressionism period when they became the dominant subject matter. Rarely one fellow French painter, however, presented a wholly endearing scene of people in their indulgence. Manet’s luminous figures belie their unbounded sexuality; Degas’ marvelous performers can hardly hide their exhaustion when off-stage; the revelers in Lautrec’s paintings, as recklessly as they can be, unreservedly trumpet their decadent lifestyle. A phlegmatic insouciance or coolly restrained emotion is not a sentiment that best sums up Lautrec’s works. The light that shines ruthlessly on the woman’s face in At the Moulin Rouge, everything within or without her is exposed, including unnervedness and fear.

A masquerade was taken place in the grand mansion of …

The Building of Dream

* (Gentile Bellini, St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria(1504-7) With his posthumous ubiquity paled comparing to that of his baby brother, Giovanni, Gentile Bellini nonetheless managed to achieve an optical accuracy through his relatively less prolific oeuvre. Providing a monumental painting like St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria, the canvas has ample capacity to enclose an almost panoramic view of the religious ceremony- people uniformly thronging around here and there, blocked only by the encompassing buildings. Every subtle detail is attended to with great finesse. Just by looking at those adorned pillars and the ruffles on the monks’ robes one might be illusioned of seeing some work of photography. A compelling sense of solemnity surges from the painting and swirls around the pillars, the rooftops, until it finally reaches the zenith.)

I toss and turn yet the somnolence is ever one-step behind the descending darkness. I feel the pulsating heart of weariness, my eyes glance involuntarily…

The Harsh Winter

* Robert Doisneau, Musician in the Rain
(Contrary to the prevalence of artists yearning for the things of the past and gloating over people’s wounds, Robert Doisneau had his eyes on the present and envisioned as best as he could an idealized world, hence explains the often seemingly staged performance his photography works appear to be. Not too much an idealization to be elevated to divinity, however much Doisneau’s photos strive to present the world in its most endearing fashion, realism is an element that the photographer failed to leach away. It is by no means a wonder that some certain rawness should crop up in a supposedly uplifting humour. A man cherishes his cello so that he shields it with umbrella when the rain pours. Whoever witnesses and appreciates the man’s love for his musical instrument is nonetheless a moot question. The only other person in the photo has his eyes fixed on the canvas. Situated in a same scene and under the same overcast weather, the two characters howev…