Maria's Description: selfportrait
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This is a lovely little painting that I've been looking at for a couple of years now. I've often wondered what is the attraction, is it the sitter herself, for some time I thought it was. Having met you Maria I'm not even sure that it's a great likeness, of course I know it's you and there is a likeness but that's not it. Lovely sculptural modeling, essentially monochromatic. Why is there no colour? Yet the grays are very evocative and there is colour the four small orbs of the earings. So I've pondered this thing, what is it that draws me to this image whenever it crosses my path? Finally I think it's the wrongness of it that is the hook, the ear too high up, I realize the head is tilted downward, a very difficult pose to hold in front a mirror so the nose is too long. The mouth strangely crooked and one eye higher than the other. One more defined than the other. But it was honestly painted by an artist trying to paint as best she can the image before her.Looking through a monograph of Freud's work, an artist I very much admire I realized long ago that it's his mistakes that are the thing of interest. Hands too large, a head too small, all kinds of distortions but not done for effect or purposefully. The artist tries as best he can to attain a flat, accurate, image of what he sees before him and it takes time and his vision changes day after day as does the scene before him and in the end, in order to make the whole enterprise of converting the three dimensional to two, compromises are tolerated. What we attempt to do is impossible like the flattened versions of the world depicted on maps. Yet if we work diligently and honestly and do the best we can, once in a while we make art, it's truly a mystery.
Yes, wrongness is indeed the hook. I am very fond of this little painting myself and I enjoy resting my eyes upon it as it stands quietly against my ling room wall. Sculptural modeling. This metaphor made me think of Rodin. Of his Balzac sculptures and his Burghers of Calais. One of the most essential elements of the transfiguration of raw clay into art is his fingerprints and his gestures that are forever evident and eternally, unceasingly modeling the clay. Especially his Balzacs are flowing. The clay - now bronze - flows and the figure flows and it is all full of eternal life and movement and the movement is so slow, almost as slow as the growing trees, and it allows you to extract the mood out of the material, as you extract the mood out of a weeping willow in the breeze, only more universally meaningful. And of course the anatomy is all wrong.Some of this eternal slow motion lies in your wrestlers.Painting is not so different from sculpture as far as its process is concerned. A painter models his raw material with the initial aim to represent something. But what is it that he wants to represent?What he sees.And what does he see?Let’s say a face.But what is it that he sees in that face? Certainly not just its form. The face’s form contains emotion and mood and it may even contain other things, even if only evident to the painter. In the process of attaining a flat image of all this, the painter can’t help but watch his “raw clay” model and at that point, as each brushstroke gets closer to or further away from likeness, other aspects of the work materialize. So he decides which of these other aspects to keep – some of them are new to him, as they appear regardless his initial intentions – in the expense of anatomical or representational accuracy. I think that Freud’s “mistakes” are far from unpurposeful. And yes, they are much of what makes his work art. I admire him very much too, even though whether one shares his view of the human condition as it emerges from his work is another story.
Non è la luce a colpire questo volto , è il volto a diffondere la luce , come un sogno segreto .Canonico
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