Art

What some would call laziness…

Thursday, 31 January, 2019

…I call deferred productivity. Félix Emile-Jean Vallotton called it La Paresse.

Félix Emile-Jean Vallotton - Laziness


Assiettes & Broderies

Friday, 25 January, 2019

“Marie-Claude Marquis is an artist whose practice is rather multidisciplinary. Touching both graphic design and visual arts, she is inspired by souvenirs, nostalgia, pop culture, Québec identity and her own emotions which she expresses with a feminine touch and a colorful sensitivity.” Check out MC MARQUIS. Very stimulating.

Assiettes & Broderies


The madness and eclipse of King Lear

Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Tonight, the moon will noticeably, progressively get darker as the sun, the Earth and the moon converge in an instance of perfect cosmic alignment to create a lunar eclipse. This only total lunar eclipse of 2019 will be visible in North America, South America, Western Europe and North-western Africa.

There were many superstitions in the Elizabethan period, one being that an eclipse was an omen of evil. Shakespeare may have witnessed the partial lunar eclipse of 27 September 1605 and the total solar eclipse of 12 October that year, and both may have influenced his King Lear, which was first staged on St. Stephen’s day 1606. “Nothing will come of nothing,” goes Lear’s warning. The raging monarch has endured so many indignities — doomed by his vanity, deceived by sycophants, abandoned to madness… The Bard’s tragedy is a bleak depiction of family and state breakdown.

“These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend
no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can
reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself
scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,
friendship falls off, brothers divide: in
cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in
palaces, treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son
and father. This villain of mine comes under the
prediction; there’s son against father: the king
falls from bias of nature; there’s father against
child. We have seen the best of our time:
machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all
ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our
graves. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall
lose thee nothing; do it carefully.”

William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act I, Scene 2

King Lear


Roger Scruton on religion and culture

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

“Culture, I suggest, has a religious root and a religious meaning. This does not mean you have to be religious in order to be cultivated. But it does mean that the point of being cultivated cannot, in the end, be explained without reference to the nature and value of religion.” — Roger Scruton

Saint Matthew was one of the twelve apostles and one of the four Evangelists. He was a tax collector by profession and when Jesus found him sitting with the other tax collectors he said, “Follow me,” and Matthew got up and followed him. “The Calling of St Matthew” by Caravaggio depicts this moment. Painting from life, Caravaggio developed a technique called Tenebrism, which was marked by dramatic contrasts of light and shade. This led him to create art of great emotional intensity. “The Calling of St Matthew” was a sensation when it was first displayed in San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome and it remains one of the most famous of Caravaggio’s works.

Caravaggio


Biro drawing of David Bowie

Saturday, 8 December, 2018

This Bic biro drawing of David Bowie is by the amazing Mark Powell, formerly of Yorkshire and now of Brick Lane in East London. Why a biro? “I choose a biro because it is the most simple and readily available tool to hand. I want to show how easy it is to have the chance to create. I want it to inspire people to give it a go without feeling the need to spend money on arts and crafts.”

Biro Bowie


Leda e il cigno

Wednesday, 28 November, 2018

According to the Greek myth that inspired the great W.B. Yeats poem, Zeus took the form of a swan and seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband King Tyndareus. Recently, a brilliant fresco depicting the event was unearthed in Pompeii and the artwork is best described in the original Italian:

Bellissima e sensuale, il corpo statuario solo parzialmente coperto da un drappo dorato, la regina Leda sembra incrociare languida lo sguardo di chi la avvicina. Tra le gambe di lei, in una posa che non potrebbe essere più esplicita, c’è il potente Zeus che per possederla si è trasformato in un grande cigno bianco e che secondo il mito insieme con il marito Tindaro, re di Sparta, diventerà il padre dei suoi quattro figli, i gemelli Castore e Polluce, ma anche la bella Elena, nel cui nome si scatenerà la guerra di Troia, e Clitennestra, che diventerà la moglie del re Agamennone.

Leda and the Swan

Here’s how Pliny the Younger recalled the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 that destroyed Pompeii and preserved the fresco of Leda and the Swan:

“Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.

‘Let us leave the road while we can still see,’ I said, ‘or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.’

We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.

You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”


Cecilia

Thursday, 22 November, 2018

One of the oldest musical institutions in the world is the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. It was founded at the command of Pope Sixtus V in 1585, who invoked two saints: Gregory the Great, after whom Gregorian chant is named, and Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Her feast day is celebrated in the Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches on 22 November. The story goes that Cecelia was a noble lady of Rome, who, with her husband Valerian, his brother Tiburtius and a Roman soldier named Maximus, suffered martyrdom in about 230 under the Emperor Severus Alexander. She was buried in the Catacomb of Callixtus, and her remains were later transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.

This portrait of Saint Ceclia is by Il Lucchese, Antonio Franchi (1638–1709). After training in Lucca with Domenico Ferrucci, he moved to Florence to work under Medici patronage. He also published a text on the occupation of painting titled, La Teorica della Pittura.

Saint Cecelia


The milk of life

Tuesday, 9 October, 2018

My mother milked cows by hand and emptied countless buckets of their milk into churns that were then taken by my father to the local branch creamery of the Dairy Disposal Company, which was the name the nascent Free State had given to the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland. For both my parents, milk was more than a product. It was life.

Johannes Vermeer painted The Milkmaid around 1660 and it’s one of the most brilliant of his 34 brilliant works that still exist today. As the Rijksmuseum puts it:

“A maidservant pours milk, entirely absorbed in her work. Except for the stream of milk, everything else is still. Vermeer took this simple everyday activity and made it the subject of an impressive painting — the woman stands like a statue in the brightly lit room. Vermeer also had an eye for how light by means of hundreds of colourful dots that play over the surface of objects.”

The Milkmaid


Decisions, decisions

Thursday, 2 August, 2018

What was it Harvey Cox said? “Not to decide is to decide.” Anyway, the excellent cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld grew up in Aberdeenshire in Scotland and now lives with his family in London. His work is distributed worldwide.

Tom Gauld


Shark Day

Thursday, 12 July, 2018

Kazuki Okuda is an illustrator and “2D artist” based in Kyoto. An impressive array of his work can be found on the showcase site Behance, which is owned by Adobe.

Shark


Into the Mystic

Monday, 11 June, 2018

“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
Smell the sea, and feel the sky,
Let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic.”

— Van Morrison, Into the Mystic

The team behind BBC Earth, which produced Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II, offers this 10-hour video of calming oceanscapes with swim-on roles for singing whales, swarming fish, circling sharks, vibrating jellyfish and diving rays. Ten hours!