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Showing posts from February, 2012

The Sleep

* Sir John Everett Millais, Ophelia(1852)

(A painting of an obvious suicidal subject can be veiled in such uplifting beauty. At once my eyes veered toward the throngs of bushes studded with flowers above the dying Ophelia, I was thus delusively convinced that her death appeared more like martyrdom. One feature sustains my perfunctory conjecture is the facial expressions of Ophelia, which shows her grotesquely in an absorbed ecstasy. The painting alludes to the analogy between death and the return to nature, and the viewers are only too tranquilized by this beautiful scene to be informed of its subsequence.)

Our beloved Cecilia passed away just last weekend. Before her folks shrouded the body carefully and laid it finally at rest under the sweet earth, Cecilia was said to be found floating face upward on a lake. The flesh no longer persisted in stiffening itself when the water eroded and seeped into the skin; glimpses of Cecilia’s somewhat pulverized bones were grotesquely visible under …

The Chamber of Horror

* Caravaggio, Amor Vincet Omnia(1602-3)

(With horror or beauty, paintings constantly haunt us. Within the sense that what informs us is merely a limited scene fixed upon a panel, curiosity is whetted of what might become of the scene, or behind it. When curiosity becomes incurable, the all-encompassing hauntedness can only grow denser. Weird is such a mediocre word to express the feeling when the painting barely insinuates any weirdness but rather discloses some unsettling effects. Any unsettling features bring focus: amid a cluttered room our sense of evaluation is sometimes more or less deceived. In Caravaggio’s painting what seizes most of my attention is the crack of smirk of the cupid. Beholding the evidence of some rather child-play havoc he wreaks, I suspect the cupid’s smile belies a certain viciousness. After hindsight I might blame my hyperbole and declare the smile to be no less than an artless one, but I conjure up more prequels and sequels of the paintings in my vision and…

The Sick Child

* Edmund Dulac, illustrations for The Wind's Tale by Hans Anderson(1911)

(There are times when a certain image begs you to lend an attentive ear to the fairy tales and stories you once heard as a child- I found such impression the most in Edmund Dulac’s illustrations for various children’s books. To be frank I never found much extreme jollity in the fairy tales I have read, but instead a menacing viciousness seems to loom over those which bear a disguise of a patronizingly happy ending. Fairy tales, to me, rarely appear thoroughly na├»ve, I can easily spot pain that encompass the stories until the very end. Fairy tales, however, I do love to revisit often, for their haziness of comprehension that excludes everything rational, practical. In a straitlaced and sequestered garden of mine those stories might be the only thing that remains footloose.)

When I was in the apotheosis of pain, I started to see visions. The world before me turned to liquid then materialized, all in a blink of an…