LOST: Tarot Cards by Alex Griendling

This morning (6.30 AM in Madrid) I woke up to watch the final chapter of LOST, and since it has definitely finished I cannot stop of thinking about it. I have just the chance of comment the wonderful LOST Tarot Cards created by Alex Griendling as a tribute to the best TV series of 21th century.

Alex Griendling. "The Enigma". All rights reserved.

The fact of design Tarot Cards connect directly with the mystic and magic world that is the island, true protagonist of the series. Though the scriptwriters tried to give it an explanation through electromagnetism, this is not enough to understand the black fume, the statue of Taweret, the eternal youth of Ricardus, the numbers, the unpregnancy, etc. So, the island is the Mistery itself and this affects directly to all characters. So, the title for this card is The Enigma, and is represented very fortunately by a compass rose.

Alex Griendling. "The Doctor". All rights reserved.

The Doctor is the title for the card dedicated to Jack Shepard. His symbol is a cross made by pills and medicines. Maybe this cross could represent the main attribute of Jack: the faith. Because of it he returned to the island, he knew he had a mission to solve in his return.

Alex Griendling. "The Believer". All rights reserved.

John Locke is The Believer, and his symbol is an Egyptian cross and a knife inside of it. Faith and fight, this could be the slogan for this main character. The monster chooses his shape because he was a leader when he was alive, and he wanted a powerful man to reincarnate.

Alex Griendling. "The Grifter". All rights reserved.

I think James Ford is much more than The Grifter. The card represents a case plenty of dollards, but the island reveals that James is a very good person, quite individualistic, but finally he fights to save all his friends. He is also an example of good fighter.

Alex Griendling. "The Fugitive". All rights reserved.

Kate Austen is again represented by  her past, The Fugitive. He killed her father by his cruelty to her mother, it was a vengeance. The island again shows her good qualities. I’ve been impressed when, at the end of the last chapter she declares her love to Jack. A very emotive scene that we all wanted to happen before, not when Jack is going to separate from her definitely. We cannot forget another question: she finally killed the monster, it makes she to be a heroine.

Alex Griendling. "The Millionaire". All rights reserved.

4 8 15 16 23 42. The numbers to pulse in Dharma station to stop the electromagnetism every 108 minutes. These numbers made Hugo to be The Millonaire playing the lottery. But all this money didn´t give happiness to Hugo. The big Hugo is, no doubt, the kindhearted person in the island, he never fights or kills to anybody. He deserves to be the number one in the island after Jacob and Jack. He broke the ancient rules of the island and the future of his friends changed.

Alex Griendling. "The Devoted". All rights reserved.

Sun and Jin, they compose one of the dramas of the series. They are The Devoted. They are married but suffer incomprehension and doubts along the series. They are going to be separated in time and space. They finally meet again but their happiness is ephemeral. They die sunk in the submarine. They are represented as two hands that cannot touch each other, with the compromise rings in the middle of the palms. It reflects their fate of living fall apart.

Alex Griendling. "The Soldier". All rights reserved.

To finish  this post, another great character, Sayid Jarrah, The Soldier. He comes from Iraq and was a member of the Royal Guard. He was obligued to do tortures to the prisoners.  He wants to forget his past but it´s impossible, he has to be cruel and practice the torture sometimes along the series. This is sad because his soul is kind but his circumstances are always terrific. He is represented by pliers and a tooth, maybe a very cruel way to represent a brave man that never doubts to help his companions.

It’s sad to say the saga has finished, because a lot of questions are still alive. What happened with the survivors when they leave the island in the plane? In what time and space all the characters meet in a church? Maybe these sequences that look flashforwards are showing the protagonist living in the Limbo waiting to go to Heaven close to their beloved? There will be no answer, we just to imagine our own end. Anyway to enjoy LOST it´s enough price for us.

I appreciate so much the work of Alex Griendling in LOST Tarot Cards, maybe we should play with them to find our own answers. If you want to see the complete Tarot Card Set of LOST, just click here.

Solomon’s Eve

Simeon Solomon. "Eve". All rights reserved.

Eve is one of the most important female icons in 19th century Art. Her role is one of the supports of the misogyny and identification of woman with evil. Eve and the serpent are the satanic couple which deserved the expulsion of mankind from Paradise. This stigma drives parallel to the increasing of the woman power in society, and is identified with the femme fatale. The woman could be the angel of home or the femme fatale, these were the two options for women in 19th century society.

Eve and the serpent didn´t appear only in the Bible or Paradise Lost, they appear transformed in Lilith (first wife of Adam), Salambó (Flaubert’s novel), Baudelaire’s poem The serpent who dances or mythological tales such as Cadmus and Harmonia, Lamia or Dripoe and Apollo.

The example we found in Solomon’s Eve is totally different of those examples that I have quoted before.
Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) is a late Pre-Raphaelist devoted to historic, Judaic and Biblical themes, just like the painters of this pictorial movement. Furthermore he painted homosexual and androgynous themes as Sad Love or Erinna, because he was homosexual. He was jailed accused of sodomy like his friend Oscar Wilde.

This sexual connotation could explain the strange way of representing Eve in this post. Usually, this theme represents the moment in which Eve tastes the apple and seals the pact with the Devil. If we look this painting we find several differences with the traditional way of representation. Eve is rising up with the help of two “angels” while Adam stays asleep or fallen. Eve is completely nude and she has no shame. The beauty of Eve is elevated, and with her, the role of women, while men are decaying.

Maybe Solomon thought that mankind leave ignorance thanks to Eve, and the fact of tasting the apple saved all human beings. The paint is the triumph of beauty and knowledge.

In a second stage, we can compare this painting with a Virgin’s Ascension or, even more blasphemous, with a female crucifixion: Eve is raised by the angels that hang their arms and the position is just like a crucifixion. I think the body position is not ingenuous, I think is deliberate to suggest a transgression. Anyway, this kind of apparent crucifixion is not so obvious like fin de siècle images just like The temptation of Saint Anthony by Félicien Rops.

This is only an interpretation of a not wellknown painting by Solomon that is not a famous Pre-Raphaelite. However this painting is very interesting and not very considered in Art. This oil on canvas has been recently sold by £713,250, not so much for this interesting work of Art.

Lisbeth Salander must live

Fernando de Vicente. “Lisbeth Salander debe vivir”. (2009). All rights reserved.

This time we travel to the world of newspapers illustration. This post is about an image from the Spanish illustrator Fernando de Vicente for El País diary, in September 6th 2009 close to the article “Lisbeth Salander must live” by Mario Vargas Llosa.

The article talks about exalting one of the main characters of the Swedish literary trilogy “Millennium” from Stieg Larsson. I must admit I haven´t read the trilogy, I have only watched the first film of the trilogy: “The men that didn´t love the women”, the best of the three films of the series. I think this is enough to know who is Lisbeth Salander and what about her look, just the message that Fernando de Vicente wants to transmit in this illustration.

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist are the two heroes of the saga, and contrary to the tradition, Lisbeth has the strength role while Mikael is the weak, a female with male attributes, a mulier fortis. In the film we can see how she is raped in first instance but has the strength and power to punish her rapist by tattooing an offensive message in his skin. Later she always fights and plays the active role.

Her profession: to be a hacker, her duty: to help to reveal a mystery. Everything under a look that is a mix of goth and punk style. I must say that in this point I feel close to Lisbeth cause I was a goth for a long time and I liked computers. It´s just this point that should be watched in this illustration.

I think Fernando de Vicente offers a light look of the brave Lisbeth Salander, maybe due to the image appeared in a big newspaper. Her aggressive connotations appear mellowed, there is no mohawk haircut nor tack necklace, Lisbeth looks a beautyful goth girl (black lips and eyelines) with only a piercing and a big tattoo of a dragon in her back that seems to mean her strength. These two elements refer to the practice of “modern primitivism”, one of the aspects of the goth culture. This look is quite different to the actress Noomi Rapace, protagonist of the European series, but is maybe closer to the look of Nathalie Portman who possibly will be the main character in the American series (we must think about her appearance in “V for Vendetta”).

Anyway, the work of Fernando de Vicente is quite excellent, as all his Art. He is mainly illustrator for newspapers, magazines, music covers, but he is also a painter. You must find many of his works at:

http://www.fernandovicente.es/

http://fernandovicenteblog.blogspot.com/

Hypatia

Hypatia of Alexandria is in the mood in Spain because of the movie “Agora” by Alejandro Amenabar. So, I want to write about the artistic representations of this kind of heroine of the Hellenistic period. She was one of the few women in Antiquity who studies Mathemtics, Physics and Astronomy and died stoned for not practising any kind of Religion, maybe she was one of the first Atheist of our Age.

I want to start reflecting about how was her face. This drives us to one of my favourite themes of Egyptian Arts: El Fayum portraits. These portraits are maybe the first representations of real people  in Antiquity. They were done for two reasons: to have a real portrait of a person when he was far from home and later, when he dies, to put in the sarcophagus for the eternal life, as usual in the funeral rites of the Egyptian people. These portraits were done by an special technique: encaustic, that employed honey to fix the colours of the painting. The result was an extremely vivid coloured image. We are fortunate cause numerous of these portraits survive nowadays. Here I show one  the most realistic female El Fayum portraits which may reflect how a female looked at that age in Egypt.

Maiden in yellow (4th century) Paris, Museé du Louvre. All rights reserved.

The next image I want to comment comes from the 19th century. The author is Charles William Mitchell and we can related it with Victorian painting but with a component of Romanticism. It represents Hypatia in the moment before she is going to be killed. She is inside a christian temple, just close to the altar. There are a cross and a chalice over a table and we can see the christian symbol at that age (the greek letters X and P) stablished by Emperor Constantine.

Charles William Mitchell "Hypatia" (1885) Oil on canvas, 244.5 x 152.5 cm, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne. All rights reserved.

Hypatia is nude, but covering the body with her long red hair. Nudity was a previous punishment before torture in Roman Empire, just to dishonour people, to be ashamed inside the community she belongs. But there are strange elements in this painting if we consider the historical period and geography. As we have seen before Hypatia comes from Egypt, so her skin shouldn´t be pale and the hair shouldn´t be red. These components approach to the Romantic way of this painting. Mitchell is taking a Pre-Raphaelite woman to represent an Egyptian one from the fourth century.

Anyway, we must compare this victorian representation of Hypatia to others related with later Pre-Raphaelites as John William Waterhouse when he paints other punished female as “Mariamne Leaving the Judgement Seat of Herod” (1887) or John Everett Millais that painted “The Knight Errant” (1870) about a chained woman.

To finish this post about Hypatia I talk a few about the film “Agora”. The star of the film is Rachel Weisz. Her look and dressing in the film have more similarities with the real Hypatia than the painting of Mitchell. If you watch the film “Agora” you realise the documentation work there is behind the film: the buildings, the costumes, the behaviours, everything drives us to that great age of the Alexandria Library just before its decadence. Rachel Weisz does a good character, you must surprise if compares this film with others like “The Mummy”, Rachel, no doubt, looks another person. This is a very interesting film, because it is didactic. You can find some little lessons of Astronomy, Physics and Mathemathics in a very nice way. Also you found the fanaticism of that Age, and how some christian groups of the beginings could be as intolerant as the pagans a few years before. Hypatia died killed stoned by radical christians that doesn´t understand the attitude of a scientific female that don´t want to participate in religious questions. The film softens the death of Hypatia: one of her disciples breaks her neck just for her not to suffer the stone punishment.

Promotional photo of Alejandro Amenabar's "Agora" (2009). All rights reserved.

“Agora” is, no doubt, one of the best historical spanish films and it´s very original in the point of view, with a component of feminism and heretics. Maybe just beacause of this I like too much this film.

Just three visions of Hypatia from the artistic perspective. Another point of view of this great female of Antiquity.

Fashion and chic

Arturo Elena "Romantique & Chic", 2006. El Lujo cover. All rights reserved.
A few weeks ago I visited the exhibition of the fashion illustrator Arturo Elena in Madrid’s Costume Museum. I was surprised with these illustrations because they are really works of Art.

Arturo Elena’s images have a very clear personality. First of all, as he is fashion illustrator, the main point are the costumes. The clues are the colour and the texture. He uses special felt-tip pens to define perfectly the different kind of fabrics: leather, mohair, damask, satin, velvet… It´s great how Elena manages to represent them. Another interesting point is the female figure. He draws the models extremely tall and thin, just like El Greco canon, and maybe this quality is a tribute to him. Elena draws also men but are not pre-eminent in his production.

He is a successful artist, their dawings appears in important fashion magazines and draws for important firms as Roberto Verino, Chanel, Loewe or Citroën.

Just today I want to talk about one of his drawings called “Fashion and chic” (2006) cover of “El lujo” magazine. It represents a luxury dinner of a singular couple: a woman and a cheetah. The black dressed woman looks like Audrey Hepburn and wears a black hat. Her fur coat is abandoned with indolence over the chair, no matter it´s partially on the floor. The table is ready for a couple soirée: roses, candle, champagne and wine. There are also a magazine and the black gloves of her. However the male partner is a cheetah. There is a kind of sorcery. It´s like the woman has transformen the man in animal, she is like Circe but this time she transforms man in a very elegant animal, the fastest feline.

Woman and animal are looking at each other’s eyes. It’s a kind of hypnotism, and at the same time means seduction. It´s the triumph of the female over the male, she needs no longer a man, she prefers a romantic dinner with a cheetah, the most elegant animal.

The composition of the illustration is also great. The woman draws a diagonal: the legs far from the table and the body, arms and head over, locating all her attention to her partner. The cheetah stands vertical showing its back, the head is turned right and its tail draws a curve towards the table.

I’m very fascinated with this illustration, no conventional at all, to represent the kind of independent women whose main interests are fashion and chic. Enjoy it.

More images:
http://www.arturoelena.com

A different Bilal’s female

© Enki Bilal. All rights reserved

Enki Bilal is, no doubt, my favourite comic designer. This is the first, but not the only, time I´ll talk about him.

This image of the dancer and singer Nawal Kamil belongs to a series of pseudo-news under the name “El Cairo” happned supossedly in the 80’s. Christin wrote the texts and Billal created the photo-drawing collages. This series were publicated in Spain in Cimoc magazine in 1981.

Nawal, the protagonist of this new appears in a decadent place, an obscure hall of the Granada Casino, just downstairs. She appears half-nude, with the rimmel drawing her face because of tears of powerlessness. It seems that she has been raped. But there is an element that reveals that something more happened. She has a dagger in her right hand. Maybe she has killed her hounder. Nobody talks about it. I f he killed him, nobody knows.

This is an evidently powerful image and reflects the decadence of Orient. In 19th century Europe looked to Orient as a Paradise Lost but nowadays we know that close exotism there exists also decadence. El Cairo, one of the most populous cities of the world, capital of that country that millenniums ago was the most important Empire of Antiquity, is different today. The Granada Casino seems to reflect this situation: the stairs and the ocher-colored walls are ramshackle, not in ruins, but enough stable to continue opened.

This environment is a parallelism to the situation of our protagonist. She has been attacked and nobody helped her. She had to defend herself with a dagger. This fact remind me and heroine of the Old Testament, Judith, who beheaded Holofernes to save her fatherland. So, our Nawal could be a modern Judith, not in the sense of Klimt’s Judiths of Art Nouveau, just an anonymous Judith in the end of 20th century. She is not a heroine in the strict sense of the word, she only tries to survive in the dangerous world she lives.

This woman is quite different to the females that Bilal uses to draw. Here the nudity does appear harsh, she shows her sex explicitly revealing the sexual attack she has suffered, while she still wears the sexy top, that evidences the sexual component of her show as dancer and singer. I mean that Bilal always draws females in a fantastic sphere, extremely pale, with non real colours (blue hair and lips, red, green in the atmosphere). However, in this context, simulating a real fact, Bilal draws a woman that suffers, she`s crying, and shows his recently tainted body.

Just because this is not an usual Bilal female, taken from a different context, I want to emphasize the importance of this image. The Bilal fans surely enjoy this facet of his production.

“Europa”, a photography by Michael Kamp

Michael Kamp, "Europa" (2000). All rights reserved
All rights reserved

I want to start my blog with a photography very special for me, not only for its personal vinculation but its quality as Work of Art.

This photo belongs to the series of photography to promote the Arcana Europa meeting, an event directed by Alberto Monreal and me in 2000. This event was granted by European Union through the Youth for Europe Program and it was the first multirateral project of this program, with collaboration from eight associations all over Europe. It took place in Tarancón and the Roman Theatre of Segobriga in Spain in 2000.

The idea behind the project was our idea of Europe, a continent that must watch its past, its traditions, its cultures to recognize who are their members. This is necessary if we want to create a common future. I think it´s a very romantic idea, close to the national Romanticism of 19th Century, but this time shared for all the countries that conform Europe.

This idea is completely captured by the promotional image of the Arcana Europa meeting took by Michael Kamp. The protagonist is a mature and beautiful woman with classical dressing, blue dress and black cloak, She is Europa personified. She looks at the sky, it´s like She is looking to the future, though She is an image from the past. The past is enhanced by the environment: around her there are columns and one statue, parts of the ancient Roman Theatre of Segóbriga.

But this is not a revival photo, it’s a modern one. It was taken with a Hasselblad camera in 6mm format with fish-eye filter and with crossing to emphasize the colors. Te filter distorts the surrondings creating a kind of bubble, where we can see the past or the future. The image is like a crystall ball read by a witch.

The crossing is a development technique who emphasizes the saturation of the colors of the photography. In this case it creates a deep an intense blue composition where plays the dress and the sky with pale color of the archeological figures and the face of Europe.

This Europa is far from the Mythological legend of Ovidio, and far also from Herodoto’s tale. As I mentioned before it’s a modern Europe, but an Europe that looks to the past to build a future.

I think this Europa it´s a very powerful image, plenty of meaning and really really beauty.