Sunday, January 20, 2013

Magdalene

Magdalene. 36"×24", Oil on canvas, December 2012
I've got to come up with a response to +Shauntelle Hamlett's interview question about inspiration, its sources and strategies, and I am a bit stuck. So, using my beloved strategy of structured procrastination  and also as a bit of warm-up, I've finally got around to editing the final photo of this recent painting, "Magdalene".

Where are the sources of this work? All over the place, to tell the truth. To begin with, my painting work is always anchored in visual impressions, in what I see; even if I paint a poem, I don't pull imagery out of nowhere. In this case, the original visual impression happens to have been recorded properly.


Reclining nude. 24"x26". Oil on canvas. 2009
This is the initial study of a nude model, from life, in Larry Robinson's figure painting class; focusing on composition, shapes and flesh tones. This last autumn, I decided to use it as a foundation for a Chagall study, as a part of my autumn spent with Marc Chagall, +In Studio with Masters. That's where the idea of turning the canvas, and combining two figures on different scale, comes from. 

Once the canvas was turned, both the imagery and the (slightly new) composition invoked, in my mind, a poem by Boris Pasternak, written in the voice of Mary Magdalene. When a poem enters my painting, it does so not only with its meaning, but, even more so, with its rhythms. Unfortunately, the rough draft of my translation of the poem's openings I was able to come up with so far, doesn't convey its enchanting rhythm adequately, but still, here it is:

Each night, my demon's here again,

My reckoning for the past,
Remembrances of harlotry
Come and suck my heart,
When, a slave to men's whims,
I was a raving fool,
And the street was my shelter.

A few minutes left,
before the deathly silence.
But, before they pass away,
Having come to the edge,
As an alabaster vessel,
I break my life before thee.

So this, or rather its Russian original, is another source of this painting. But that's not all: this painting is also a part of my explorations of Kandinsky's take on inner meanings of colours (in his book, "Concerning the Spiritual in Art"), with the reds for passions, the blues for spirituality, the yellows for soil and flesh. 

All in all, the story of this work seems to illustrate rather nicely these words attributed to Pablo Picasso, that Inspiration does come, but it must find you working. All the sources of inspiration listed here were called forth by the painting itself, while it was finding its long way to materialization, not before. 
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