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Monday, March 28, 2011

Paintings of the Nude in the Garden

 Some small oil paintings I have been working on with the subject of the nude in the garden. Sometimes with the addition of  fragments from the oil pastel sketches I have been doing.






Thursday, March 10, 2011

More sketches in oil pastel

These are more sketches in oil pastel I have been doing over the past weeks. Anyone wishing to see the technique and materials I am using can consult an earlier post "Sketching in Oil Pastels" by going back through the blog until they reach the post.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Venus of Willendorf-An Analysis

Believed to have been carved by an early European hunter-gatherer and standing only 11 cms high the Venus of Willendorf is perhaps one of the most compelling sculptures ever made.
Its aesthetic appeal for us perhaps resides in the fine feeling of balance and "rightness" in the handling of the volumes of the head ,torso and lower limbs and fine carving of hair and anatomical detail. Add the mystery of its motives and we have an object that both pleases and perplexes us.
It is thought the figure is a representation of female fertility. Those areas associated with fertility,breasts,buttocks.stomach and labia (suggesting pregnancy) are treated almost to the exclusion of everything else. The figure has no face (it is not a portrayal of an individual) and no feet. The arms are rendered as mere sticks.
Significantly, perhaps, what appears to be braided hair is included. Why leave hair in? Once we reach maturity (that is, our fertile period) the only parts of our bodies that continue to grow are our hair and fingernails. (Hair and fingernail clippings have a long history in sympathetic magic as needing extreme care in handling. Often being destroyed to prevent their use in sorcery). The mystery of hair growth in a pre-scientific age can perhaps easily be seen as an aspect of fertility. (as its loss is a part of loss of fertility). It has also been speculated that the small "pecked out" area (seen best in a back view) is a representation of a braided hair belt circling the stomach area perhaps allying this mysterious power of growth with the significant area of female fertility.
These speculations are perhaps confirmed by another of the venus figurines. Carved into a small piece of limestone and showing a similar treatment of the female figure (but without the aesthetic appeal of the Venus of Willendorf). This figure holds an animal horn that would also exhibit this same mysterious power of growth after maturity

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Lascaux Caves,Chardin and Campbell's Soup

The Caves of Lascaux in France have prompted many pages of speculation on their meaning or significance. One of the most popular is their supposed significance in ritual or sympathetic magic. A kind of sacred site for the hunter-gatherers of pre-historic Europe. The speculations may well be right.  As interesting as these speculations are if we start with one thing we can be sure of about these depictions and compare them with other art-works perhaps we can also make some interesting points.
The one thing we know about the animals depicted in the caves is that they were eaten as food by the artists who painted them.
If we compare the paintings of the cave to "The White Tablecloth" by Chardin we can see that the food depicted here has undergone a process. Where the food of the Lascaux caves is still "on the hoof" so to speak, the food of Chardin's painting has been processed from it's raw form of meat, grain and fruit into sausage, baked bread and fermented wine. (How differently we may "read" Chardin's painting had only bread and wine been depicted).
Again when we look at Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Can" we only know this is food by reading the label on the can. In fact if the label read something like "Monkey Embryos" we perhaps wouldn't see food at all whether the can contained tomato soup or not.