Category Archives: Art

Francis Bacon: The Optimist

“Great art is always a way of concentrating, reinventing what is called fact, what we know of our existence – a reconcentration… tearing away the veils that fact acquires through time.”

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was born like today, 28th October, in 1909 and died in 1992. He is probably the only ‘shock’ artist I like. Here is a link to an 1985 documentary about him, his work and his views. I think in this just short of an hour film you can see the man, who claims to be “an optimist for nothing” and to have no thoughts on the meaning of his individual works.

http://www.ubu.com/film/bacon.html

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Octavio Paz Quote

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“Beyond happiness or unhappiness, though it is both things, love is intensity; it does not give us eternity but life, that second in which the doors of time and space open just a crack: here is there and now is always.”

Octavio Paz

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Thinking of beauty, thinking of Florentine Art

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    Lorenzo Ghilberti, Creation of Adam and Eve, ca. 1435, panel part of the ‘Gates of Paradise’, East Doors, Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence

“The great Florentine art, from Giotto through the quattrocento, has the faculty of amazing with its unexpected and absolute truthfulness. This faculty was once called beauty.”

Mary McCarthy, the Stones of Florence

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Leda and the Swan

The story of ‘Leda and the Swan’ is a Greek myth which is told in many variations.

According to one of them, Leda – a mortal queen, wife of the king of Sparta Tyndareus – was in the forest when Zeus spotted her and wanted to make love to her (or rape her). He transformed himself into a swan and landed next to her. They started playing and he seduced her. On the same night she also lay with her husband.

As a result, Leda ‘hatched’ two eggs, from one egg she bore the twins Castor and Pollux (Polydeuces), the fomer being the son of Tyndareus and mortal, and the other being the son of Zeus and therefore immortal. They are known as the Gemini (‘Twins’), the famous constellation, star sign. Through their love for each other, they both eventually became the immortal-mortals.
From the other egg she bore Clytemnestra, famous for becoming the wife of king Agamemnon, and Helen of Troy. No more is needed to say about the importance of these two women in the narrative of the dawn of the western civilization.

All these mythological- archetypical figures and life circumstances have fuelled the human imagination in the millenia and given such great material for the arts…. Here, I think, are two beautiful examples of this:


‘Leda with the Swan’ by Bartolomeo Ammaneti
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

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Leda and the Swan
by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

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“The poet’s mind toils between substance and the void.
Every detail in high and low relief he seeks to perfect, so
that the form, although it may transcend the dictates of
compasses and ruler, shall be the paragon of resemblance to all
shapes and features imitated.”

Lu Chi’s Wen Fu
The Art of Writing

Quote from The Art of Writing

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The Rock is out of its temple

In an earlier post back in April, titled ‘Talking about Art and Devotion’, I was talking about a photograph I was working on, the Rock. At the time of that post I wasn’t happy with my test print. It took me a couple more months of working on it, leaving it aside, looking back at it, making test prints, using different printing methods, etc, to get it to where I felt I liked it. So here it is:

This image was taken using my iphone 4S (!) on a early spring afternoon at the Paros Park in Paros. I processed it in CS5 and my final print was made on a Sommerset Velvet Fine Art A4 paper in Piezo, using a carbon selenium split toning.

I have to say that if you compare the two variations of the same image on a computer screen, I mean the one I have uploaded on the April post and this one here, you might not see much of a difference. The adjustments I made are subtle so the illuminated highly contrasty computer screen might not reveal them, but there is a huge difference in the tonal values between these two versions and, therefore, in the overall feeling of the image on the print(s). I wish I could show you that too.

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