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Showing posts from September, 2014

Andrew Wyeth

"One generation abandons the enterprise of another like stranded vessels."- Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Andrew Wyeth spoke through the voice of nature. Nature in its most pristine, the least verbose, still retaining that primitive simplicity only the pioneers would know. Wyeth preached the esoteric prophesy; he recounted the mythic tales of the wounded souls, the physically deformed. There is, in his paintings, a nostalgic value that renders his art peculiarly biblical. Modern civilisation is mostly and blissfully omitted; the main feature of the painting is often that of a vast frontier- equable, silent and sparsely peopled. The visionary power of Wyeth’s art is almost comparable to that of the religious paintings. One inexorably has his conscience tugged when seeing Wyeth’s paintings as though one were standing before an altarpiece of Jesus and Madonna.
Interestingly, as though testifying to the obsolescence of his art, Wyeth’s paintings were mostly executed in temperas. The…

Felix Vallotton

"He was there or not there: not there if I didn't see him."- Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

One sees immediately from Felix Vallotton’s paintings that he must had been a gifted raconteur. The painter was possessed of the natural aptitude of unfolding and withholding the narrative flow at the most propitious timing. Mysteriousness emerges. The viewers are bound to be tantalised. Whilst most of Vallotton’s paintings are about the quotidian, the domestic, beneath them their pent-up energy seethes and trembles, threatening to explode at any moment. It isn’t just the quotidian that he depicted, but the interior dramas. Any reader of Ibsen’s or Strindberg’s plays will know that interior drama can be the most frenetic.
A woman leans towards a man, her hand entwines his body in show of sensuousness. She whispers into his ears something that the viewers are forbidden the right to privy to. But one has the eye to deduce, from the slightly wrinkled of the man’s nose and the sligh…

Tintoretto

"Chaos, a rough and unordered mass."- Ovid, Metamorphoses

The art of Tintoretto aims to draw an unlikely equivalence between chaos and beauty. There seems always a commotion going on in his paintings. Robust bodies are confusedly tangled, insofar as one is usually convinced that the depictions are about wars, even when most of them are not. A sense of fieriness and ferocity is instantly felt, but that of airiness, which is a quality almost reserved for monumental paintings like Tintoretto’s, is glaringly absent. It is curious of how the painter had maintained, throughout his career, a predilection of conscientiously filling up every corner of the canvas, leaving barely any spaces void.
Such complexity of composition, however, does not render Tintoretto’s painting a frustrating imbroglio. There is an internal equilibrium within the constant motion. The crowdedness of the scene of The Last Supper (1592-94) is relieved somewhat by the ball of blaze above the table, and the halos …

The Three Sisters

He met the three sisters. They judged him frostily as he was welcomed to their home, which was small, incommodious and spartan. He surveyed the interior, and suddenly lighted on the windows, the traceries and elaborate craftsmanship of which he thought were truly dazzling. “Don’t look at me,” shrieked one of the sisters, abruptly interrupting his enjoyment. Astounded, he shifted focus towards the speaker, who lowered her head the moment she caught his quizzical gaze. The second sister, sitting beside the first and seemingly the most genial of the three, explained to him: “My sister disliked people who were too inquisitive.”
The third sister was always silent, but always attentive to their conversation, since a cryptic smile would be playing about her lips on cue the amusing moments of the otherwise dull, interminable talk. He gathered that the three sisters had lived together, in this house, all their lives. They had never stepped out of the house. Their knowledge of the world without …

The Angel

A series of excited ejaculations beckoned him to stop. Days of no encounter with a single soul, he was duly astounded. He raised his head and saw, staring down at him with undisguised arrogance, an angel figurine, whose body was discoloured and mottled. She spoke, in a reedy voice that gave an impression of a whimpering child: “Stop there! Who are you? Where are you going?” He told her his next destination, recounted in deliberate brevity his adventures so far, and prudently disclosed no information of his identity. “Not a very seasoned traveller, I gather,” she sneered, “mind you young man! A callow bird like you can never tell if an inveterate deceiver finally tells the truth, or he is indulging in his old habit all the same. Two roads are ahead of you, one will lead you to the next kingdom you fancy going, though no one will warrant you if that kingdom also happens to be a place of safety; the other will surely blindfold you to danger, into the depth of complete darkness, where you…