Lizards

Irina Vinnik. (2008-2009). All rights reserved.

This post is dedicated to a talented drawer from Saint Petersburg: Irina Vinnik. She is a contemporary artist who likes to work with drawing, ink and digital tools. The image of today belongs to a series called Call up old memories. All the works are related with organic elements, curves and spirals that interweave each other. They are drawn with ink and pencil over an ocher paper, just like the composition were an ancient work. There are also secondary elements as words and frames, with classic typographies or handmade ones, as the sign of the work and the date.

I have chosen particularly this image because I have found a clear reference from one of my favourite artists: M. C. Escher. Irina has taken two lizards in the same way as Escher did. The lizards are related by curves in a sort of symmetrical composition. While Escher composed the reptiles transforming the organic lines into geometrical ones in a kind of mathematical limit, Irina prefers to work only with organic elements, only with curved lines.

Another reference I found in the composition is the parallelism with Celtic knots. In those knots the curve lines interweaved just like Irina does with the curves that born from the lizard’s bodies.

Also I want to propose another reference: the Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings. They contains a main element (in this case the two lizards) and a lot of handmade writings. It’s just like Irina wanted to evoke those Renaissance treatises.

Looking at the typographical words: Notes, October, Monday, Tuesday, Wednsday, Saturday, we may think this is a page that belongs to a diary, a journal where the artist fix her work in a concrete date. It would be interesting to understand the handmade writings around the image, but they are very little to be read. Surely they give information about this work.

Finally to note that Irina signs the image in the lower left side of the drawing and includes some numbers that I really don´t know their meaning. She also writes her email, this suggests she wants to interact with the observer, to know what he thinks. I should send this post to Irina for she to know my background. You can do it as well to irina@vinnik.net.

Fryne

Jean-Léon Gérôme. "Fryne's judgement". (1861). All rights reserved.

This painting shows one of my favourite stories of the Ancient Greece and was immortalized by the French painter and Sculptor Jean-Léon Gerome, an Academicist Artist of 19th century. This classic matter is not strange in his production, usual for the Academical Art of that age all around Europe. Maybe Gérôme is one of the most wellknown artists I use to write about, but this painting is special for me.

I´m going to tell you this story about Fryne and then I´ll analyze the painting. Fryne is not a mythological being, she was human, a very beautiful woman who modeled for the Greek sculptor Praxiteles. Fryne is a nickname, her real name was Mnésareté that means commemorator of virtue. She was born in Tepsias in 328 B.C.

Fryne was judged by the crime of merciless, because she used to compare herself with Aphrodite. She was so beauty that modeled for sculpting godesses (she was probably the model for Venus of Cnido). In the judgment she was defended by a good lawyer: Hisperides, a good friend of Praxiteles, but he was unable to convince the audience. So he showed Fryne nude and asked to the judges if was right to private the world to so incredible beauty. This argument convinced the judges and Fryne was free.

How to represent this incredible story? Gérôme does it as a master. The scene is inside a complex architecture: squared in the ceiling and circular (elliptical in perspective) on the floor. Around the circle, in the right side and the center are located all the judges. In the right side, on the focus of the ellipse, Fryne being naked by Hisperides. In the extreme left a man, probably Praxiteles. The red of the dress of the judges contrastates with the brilliant nude body of Fryne that is like the sun: everyone who looks at her must cover up. Even Fryne must cover up from her light.

Gérôme composed a great painting. He was able to capture the most intense beauty a woman may posses. I hope you enjoy this beautiful painting as I do, one of my favorite female nude paintings ever.

If you are near Germany you can watch the painting in Hamburg Kunsthalle.

Oil Planet

Cristiano Siqueira. "Oil Planet". Allrights reserved.

Cristiano Siqueira is a brilliant artist from Brasil. His creative fields are illustration, graphic design and advertising. Today I’m going to analyze his work called Oil Planet. The title clearly evidences its ecologic intention, as we will see. The technique for this image is digital illustration.

The main elements of the image are two: a strong man down on his knees supporting a sphere on his shoulders that represents planet Earth -we can distinguish the continents drown on it-. The disposition of these elements quickly drives us to an archetype: the Greek God Atlas who carries the World upon his shoulders. Atlas was the chief of the Titans, who fought with the Olympic Gods. They lose and Zeus condemned Atlas to carry the weight of the skies. Though Atlas was very powerful the weight was so big that moans suffering carrying it.

All the composition is colored in black, in direct reference to the oil, mentioned in the title. The Earth is black because is fully contaminated by oil. This is a reference of our current world where oil controls everything though it provoques a high level of contamination all over the World. In the top of the sphere, where are placed North America and Europe, a black fume is emanating: the Occidental World is the guilty.

This ecologist aspect is emphasized by the figure of Atlas: he wears a gas mask, necessary to survive the contamination. This element can be connected with cyberpunk and industrial subculture, where the use of gas mask is an aesthetic and protest element.

The image by Siqueira is a brilliant allegory: to use a classical iconography -Atlas- to show a contemporary criticism -the global contamination-. An excellent combination.

If you want to see more Art from Siqueira click here.

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.

Jess Ravel Iglehart

Today I want to visit the illustrations of Jess Ravel Iglehart, born American (Denver, CO) but very influenced by the British smell. His Art talent comes from his mother, the painter Elizabeth Iglehart.

I must say he has several influences as he declares: Wiener Werkstatte, Art Nouveau, silent film, Disneyland, victorian window displays and japanese ghost stories, but I want to point that British characters and cities are also a big influence for his Art, as I´m going to try to show in this post.

There is a series of images located in cities of Great Britain, such as London or Edimbourg. He combines photos of the urban landscape and there insert his characters.

Ravel Iglehart. "Edimbourg". All rights rserved.

This image, called Edimbourg, reflects an underground girl located in a crescent. This is one of my favourite of his works. She is dressed in black, with brown t-shirt and smoking. I have found this image with another title: Punk nouveau, that could reflect the meaning of the image. The point is the girl wears his jacket showing a shoulder and her belt comes undone. She really doesn´t look just as a punk (different hair dress and hair color, no studs) but her general aspect with this so called nouveau style combined could mean the contrast between these two labels.

Ravel Iglehart. "Black Frame". All rights reserved.

I think this punk nouveau attribute can be applied to several images, as Black Frame, where an elegant girl is located in an art nouveau frame.

Ravel Iglehart. "Black hat Lady". All rights reserved.

Also nouveau is the Black hat Lady. Elegance an assymetry in a bust that really could come from 19th century mood but located in a landscape with an industrial smokestack.

Ravel Iglehart. "Siouxsie Sioux". All rights reserved.

Underground music appears also in his illustrations, and it appeares in two female portraits: Siouxsie Sioux and Alison Goldfrapp. In Siouxsie we found the Queen of British punk and Gothic Rock. And again the geometry of the portrait and the secondary elements remembers echoes of Mackintosh Art Nouveau style. She is, no doubt, one of my favourite caricatures.

Ravel Iglehart. "Goldfrapp". All rights reserved.

About Alison Goldfrapp portrait we must say that belongs to a different style, there are more surrealistic elements than nouveau ones. This seem to represent another current in his Art.

If you want to keep on enjoying the Art of Jess Ravel Iglehart click here.

Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent

Henry Fuseli. "Thor Battering the Midgard Serpent". (1790). All rights reserved.

Henry Fuseli (1741 Zúrich, 1825 London) , close to William Blake, was the precedent of the Romantic movement in Great Britain. One of the paintings who tried to look back to England past is the representation of Thor, God from the Germanic mythology, that could be related with the norse link of this country. The theme of this painting is unique in the production of Fuseli, there are no more iconography related with Norse mythology in his work.

The painting represents the fight between Thor and the sacred serpent Midgard. The story is taken from Icelandic Snorri Sturlson’s Prose Edda (13th century), chapter XLVIII. Thor, son of Odin, member to the As lineage, is one of the most powerful gods. He has to fight with Midgard serpent so, he sails a little boat with the giant Hymir. He cut the head of an ox and used I as bait in the hook to attract the magic and powerful serpent. Midgard fell into the trap and in that moment Thor and the serpent look each other eyes. In that moment Hymir cut the hook and the serpent was free and came back to the lake, but Thor threw his hammer Mjolnir and banged in the head of Midgard killing it.

If we watch carefully the painting we can identify the elements of the tale: down, drawing a spiral we see the imponent serpent Midgard, it is trapped by the hook. Over the boat there are Thor and Hymir. Thor stands catching the trap with one hand and brandishing his powerful hammer in the other to kill the serpent. The giant is frightened, but in that moment he´ll liberate the serpent but it´s later, Thor will kill Midgard with Mjolnir.

The composition is spectacular, with the almighty Thor, nude, in contraposto, just like the ancient Greek statues. Here Fuseli goes ahead to the male nudes paintings of the 19th century. The serpent is also impressive, so big and strong, but writhening in pain under the power of Thor.

The scene is located in a dark landscape: at night, in the shadows, a reminiscence of the Gothic Literature, that was born at the end of 18th century, just at the same time that Fuseli succeed as painter. There are more links between Fussli painting and Gothic Literature, one example is his most famous painting The Nightmare (1783).

I hope this post is interesting for you.

The Regal Twelve

Today I´m going to talk about Alexia Sinclair, a Digital Photographer, born in Newcastle in 1976 and formed as artist in Sidney where became Master in Fine Arts. She won Australian Fine Art Photographer award, ans since then she has exhibited in many numerous exhibitions including at the Australian Centre for Photography and the Art Gallery of NSW. She works with digital photography treating the images with digital software including many layers for each image.

In 2007 she presented her most acclaimed series of images called The Regal Twelve, where she took twelve important women of our History. Taking models for each photography she dressed each one to represent the historic women and later added several layers to contextualize the character in her location and time. There is a common element in each image, the beauty of the models, a way to sublimate the real characters she pretends to representate.

So, today I´m going to comment several images of this series. The first one, Isabel la Católica, Queen of Spain at the end of 15th century.

Alexia Sinclair. "Isabella of Spain (The Catholic)". (2007). All rights reserved.

The character is a young woman with brown hair and ponytails, her face is make up with dark shadws surrounding the eyes, and she wears a beautiful stamped dress. No doubt, these elements are inventions, cause the Queen was really a very austere person. On the contrary, Alexia Sinclair has located the queen in a more realistic place: a medieval cloister, where we can see a retablo with a Madonna and saints, which is related with the religious feeling of the queen. Other elements talks about the characteristics of Isabel: she holds a caravel that represents the conquer of America. In the other hand she holds a rosary, another sigh of her christian devotion. There are also some books close to her, that symbolizes her fond of reading. We know Isabel la Católica had a very important collection of books as the important “Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica”.

Alexia Sinclair. "Elizabeth Bathory (The Countess of Blood)". (2007). All rights reserved.

Another woman in the series is the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the blood countess. She was born in Hungary in 1560 and died in 1614. I don´t know what is the reason to choose this woman, her only attribute is to be one of the first female serial killers of the History. She used to capture young maidens, to kill them with a knife and to take all their blood to take blood baths to stand always young. In the image we can see a sexy young countess who runs followed by a wolf, in a sexy pose, showing her leg. Her hair is mid brown mid red, her dress is composed by a red bodice, a blue skirt and a stole, and brings a rosary in her hand (this last element is opposite to the criminal spirit of this woman). The countess and the wolf runs through the fields, probably looking for a victim. Beside them we can see the Castle of Csetje, where she lived, but it doesn´t looks like the real castle of Elizabeth Bathory. There is also a very big moon in the sky, that means the countess is somekind of werewolf.

Alexia Sinclair. "Cleopatra (The Seductress)". (2007). All rights reserved.

The last image I´m going to comment is Cleopatra. Cleopatra is surely one of the most sexy queens of the History and because of that the model chosen for the photography is the most congruent of the whole series. Alexia Sinclair is representing probably the death of the Queen, when she is bitten by the serpent. Her imagination let’s Cleopatra appears half naked dressing somekind of mesh that partially covers her body. More realistic is the crown Cleopatra wears on her head, I think with the feather, symbol of Maat, the Justice. Cleopatra is sat in a golden throne inside an aisle painted with Egyptian hieroglyphics.

All the images try to contrast historical elements with contemporary ones. The models, as I mentioned before, are on the contrary of the real persons represented in the series, which approximates the images more to a model photo session than a historical investigation. Anyway Alexia Sinclair uses perfectly the techniques of digital photography because she is able to integrate perfectly the different layers. She is able to present us some realistic non-realistic historical women.

You can see the whole series and other works of Alexia Sinclair here.

Fear of Elle

Gustav Adolf Mossa. "Elle". (1905). All rights reserved.

One of the sides of the Symbolism style at the end of the 19th century is to represent the femme fatale. The icon of this kind of representations is The idol of perversity by Jean Delville (1891), but Elle by Adolf Mossa (1905) is not so far from it.

As always, we should analyze the elements of the painting, including all the details to try to find an interpretation. The main figure is a female nude lied down over a mountain and with brown hair and big eyes.

Let’s start from the top. There are two crows at both sides of the head as if the hair is a nest, a bird of bad omen, that are protecting three little skulls oriented in three different directions, which could be an allegory of time: past, present and future, the same that the popular Titian painting, but there were heads and here are skulls. Is it the end of times? Probably.

Another interesting and contradictory detail is a golden aura surrounding the head of Elle. But, could be Elle a saint? Not at all, probably this is a blasphemous element.

The pale face, the earrings and the necklace indicate that the woman could belong to aristocracy, maybe Victorian, contemporary with the painter.

The nude body: proportions and gesture reveal that the technique of Mossa is not perfect, he is not painting a proportioned nude body.

We arrive to the bottom, where there is the clue of the interpretation of the painting: the peak is a mountain made by human cadavers, probably male. Respect to the human bodies, Elle is a a giant, she is no doubt the incarnation of an evil monster.

I suggest several possible interpretations: first, Elle is Babylon, the Whore city of Asyria: the maximum incarnation of lust in the Earth. Another interpretation is that Elle is the Beast of Apocalypse, again related with the Christian question. The last suggestion is that Elle is the incarnation of all the evil for men, the woman that devours all men, the Praying Mantis, the supreme femme fatale.

Just the fantasies of fin de siècle drove the artists to think that the new women, the feminist, was breaking the traditional rules and she was a menace for men. I´m fascinated by this age but I will never understand its misogyny.

Walpurgis Night

Luis Ricardo Falero. "Vision of Faust". (1878). All rights reserved.

Today post is dedicated to a masterpiece of the Spanish 19th century painter: Luis Ricardo Falero. Falero was born in Granada in 1851 and died in London in 1896. His family could send him to study in UK in Richmond University when he was nine: a prodigy boy. Later he travelled to Paris, so his formation was multilingual and cosmopolitan. No doubt, he learnt from Victorians and Academicists to form his personal style. Surely, he was close to occultists and theosophs, and because of it he preferred magic and orientalist motives for his paintings. But the main object of his painting was always the woman. Nude women are present all over his art, as we can see in this masterpiece: Vision of Faust.

Vision of Faust (1878) is inspired in the first part of Goethe’s Faust, the passage where Mephisto shows the Walpurgis Night to Faust in Blocksberg, a peak of Harz mountains in Germany. Walpurgis Night is a traditional holiday for Nordic and Celtic people that celebrates the Spring Equinox, but later was diminished and the people considered this day as a meeting of witches with Satan. This is just the way in which Mephisto shows to Faust this celebration.

Other artists from 19th century who represented Walpurgis Night or meetings between witches were sordid and dark such as Aquelarre (1819-1823) by Goya or Walpurgis Nacht (1829) by Johann Heinrich Ramberg. However Falero’s Vision of Faust is quite sexual and orgiastic, there are devils and bats, but beautiful nude witches dominate the whole painting, doing pink the main colour of the canvas.

The Falero’s witches are disposed in several positions, are foreshortened figures, floating in the air. They are nude and their bodies are voluptuous, it´s an orgy, a painting completely indecorous to be approved by the Academy.

Apart from the witches, there are devil criatures: a bat, a reptile, an old woman, a skeleton, and most of all the incarnation of Satan in a billy-goat. There is also a nude man in the right side that could be Faust involved in the orgy, though it´s only a suggestion.

To watch this painting is just to be a voyeur, Falero wants to show us how a Sabbath should be: no terrible but extremely lascivious. Watching this paint is to be invited to contemplate a satanic bacchanal.

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.