Sorceress by Brett Manning

Brett Manning. "Sorceress". All rights reserved.

The first question I want to discuse inthe post is why Brett Manning has used the word “sorceress” to define his illustration instead “witch”. Both words could be exchanged each other but there is a notable differencee between them: “witch” has a negative component, the witch has a pact with the devil and from it all her power emanates; however, “sorceress” is a woman who practices sorcery, makes spells, prepares ointments, always because she knows the Nature and from it comes all her wisdom and magic. So, our character of today is a pretty woman (beauty is also an attribute of sorceresses traditionally) who is in communion with the Nature and her powers come from this relationship.

I think the word “sorceress” cannot be applied in the western civilization for centuries, under the Christianism, because the women that took the role of witch doctor were accused of heresy and devil’s pact. So, we cannot find images of sorceress in the western imaginary till the Inquisition was suprimed (so lately as Spain, it finished at the beginning of 19th century). So, the first examples of representations of sorceresses appears in one of my favourite painting movement: the Pre-Raphaelites, who turn back the look to ancient legends (the Saint Grail) or cultures (Celtic). There we have two notable examples of sorceresses: The Magic Circle by Waterhouse (1886) and Morgan le Fay by Frederick Sandys (1863-64).

But the sorcerress of this post is quite different from the Pre-Raphaelite ones, with the only similitude of the beauty of the character. Let´s examine the image to try to find the marks that help us to understand the illustration.

The image is a bust turned to the right but the head is looking front. She wears an interesting headdress from which we can understand many things: the helmet is the head of an eagle, which represents her connection with the wind, with the ability of look far and the majesty of being the queen of the air. Also, surrounding the helmet there are eagle feathers that covers her hair, that emphasize this connection. Over the eagle’s head there is a circle that represents a star: maybe the Sun or the Moon, another source of her supernatural power and link with the Nature. Her face is made up with strange symbols: an inverted triangle in the forehead and longitudinal lines with little black triangles.

All these elements let me think in two cultures: native Americans and Egyptians. The native Americans use feathers and skulls from birds of prey in their hair-dresses and paint their faces with lines and symbols. But there is an important question, the females didn´t take the role of witch doctor in this culture. Anyway, I think Brett Manning has taken inspiration from native Americans.

About Egyptians, I find two elements linked with the illustration: the eagle and the circle (the Sun), that were two very important symbols of the Egyptian religion that are connected with Horus and Ra. Anyway the look of our sorceress is aesthetically different from Egyptians.

I think Manning has created a personal illustration taking several elements from different cultures to create his own iconography. No doubt, the image of this sorceress is quite beautiful and suggestive and brings to nowadays a female icon forbidden for many time in our culture. I think it has an esoteric meaning and I enjoy a lot all the rich elements around this sorceress.

LOST: caricatures

Anthony Geoffroy. "LOST. Jack". (2004). All rights reserved.

I´m writing this post just before six chapters for the end of the TV series LOST. Just a few to the whole connection will be revealed. I´m in a culminating point that surely will stay for six weeks on.
You should question why I talk about LOST in an Art-based blog, and the answer is why I consider LOST as a masterpiece, maybe the first TV series that you could consider a whole work of Art. We apply the calification of Art to many manifestations, even more in Contemporary Art, to installations, performances, ready-mades… Why not to consider a TV series as a work of Art?

I think LOST is like a long collection of films, assembled as a puzzle, in which each piece has an important meaning, there are no chapters left, all of them are necessary. The island is the main character, but you cannot know what it really is if you don´t know each human and supranatural beings that stay there because their souls have something in common with the island. Flashbacks and flashforwards, time jumps, parallel realities, mythology, evil, love, are the main elements that help the characters to write a perfect fantastic story.

I really have not a theory about the end of LOST, even more I don´t want to think about it, I want to be surprised by the so incredible script, written to surprise you week by week when you watch each LOST chapter.

So, as my task in this blog is to talk about artifacts, this time I´m going to refer to the work of Anthony Geoffroy. He is a designer and illustrator, and he got success with caricatures of cinema and TV characters such as Batman, Frodo, Dr. House, Horatius, etc. So, It´s not strange he has chosen two of the main characters of LOST to remake them as caricatures: Jack Shepard and John Locke.

One important thing in the caricatures of Geoffroy are the backgrounds, whose color and texture put the characters into context. This time the background for Locke and Jack are the same: green with light reflects, that means they are in the jungle that is green and wet.

Geoffroy’s caricatures are focused in the characters’ face, he deforms the features with strange angles, breaking the proportions of the several parts of the head, always providing a nice gesture to the character. In the case of Jack, his face is a rhombus, the lower part is the chin, and the upper one contains all the rest of the face: hair, eyes, nose, and the mouth, partially open, is just in the middle. Geoffroy captures the essence of the character: a good man, whose task is to help the others and because of it he is one of the leaders of the island.

Anthony Geoffroy. "LOST. Locke". (2008). All rights reserved.
Anthony Geoffroy. "LOST. Locke". (2008). All rights reserved.

Concerning John Locke, the caricature was made in 2008, so Geoffroy surely didn´t know the black fume is now incarnated in the body of John Locke. So, we must think in Locke as the brave man he once was. This time the head is more proportioned but with a long mouth dividing the face in 2/3. There is a scar crossing the forehead and the right eye: this is a sign of fighting, which reflects Locke’s hard life and that he is a brave man who fights to survive in an unfair world. Locke finds in the island the right place to live his life as he deserves.

Let´s hope Geoffroy keeps on drawing this so nice caricatures, and maybe some of them from LOST too.

More about Anthony Geoffroy

Alison Goldfrapp

I have taken a ride through and I have found several images of the singer Alison Goldfrapp. It´s nice to see how there are fans of this fantastic singer that have reflected in images their personal view of the frontman of Goldfrapp. I have selected three of them that catch the three  stages of the band.
Belldandies. "Goldfrapp". (2007). All rights reserved.
The author of the first image is Belldandies. It´s a digital illustration of 2005. The mood of the illustration remembers me the stage of Felt Mountain. This album was the debut of Alison and Will Gregory in 2000 under Mute label. For me, this album is a masterpiece and the best of the whole albums of Goldfrapp. The style of this album is pure decadence with a cinematographic aura. This decadentism is very well captured in the image of Belldandies: Allison is dressed in black with a male jacket and a black hat, with a red rose, in a crossing between the female pose and a male wearing. The cinematographic look comes from an aesthetics that remembers me the black and white cinema icons as Rita Hayworth in Gilda. I mean that there is a strong component of feminity  but contrasting with the male wear. Alison is shown here as a sort of femme fatale dressing like a man.
Spaceache. "Strict Machine". (2004). All rights reserved.
The second image was made by Spaceache in 2004 and refers clearly to the second stage of the band, in the second and third releases Blak Cherry (2003) and Supernature (2005). There the band moved to a more electronic music, with some hits for dancefloor. In my opinion was a mistake to change the style of their first stage, anyway I continued enjoying their music. The title of the image is Strictmachine, the name of one of the hits taken from Black Cherry. The image is a photocomposition that draws a half of a female face, with the hair as a kind of metal. There are also scissors opened that are going to cut the eye. This element is an evident similitude with the famous image taken from Buñuel’s Un chien andalou, where a knife cuts the eye of a woman. This reference to surrealism could connect with the essence of the music, but I think the similitude is very far. Only the metalic elements could refer to the strict machine of the song. Anyway the composition is interesting but pretentious.
Trevw82. "Goldfrapp". (2008). All rights reserved.
The last image is again an illustration made by Trevw82 and is taken from a large series of illustrations that reflects the passion that Trev feel for Goldfrapp. There are two kinds of images, some of them draws Alison in the nature, in idyllic poses, and some others represents Alison on stage under the colour lights. I have selected one of the first that reflects the style of Seventh Tree (2008), where the musical style turns to folk. In that way I think these images reflect perfectly the third stage of the band. The image is a traditional illustration with influences from Manga and from Art Nouveau. In the image Alison is represented sat on the grass with a circus dress and the hat laying on the green, she looks like a fairy. It´s a very romantic interpretation corresponding with the smell of Seventh Tree.

This year the last Goldfrapp CD has been released, Head First, that moves again to their electronic way. I haven´t heard the album yet, so I cannot talk more about this new step of the band. It´s possible that I find soon some new images of Alison that reflect this new stage. If so, you will have news in heresy and beauty.