true, unsaid little virtues what common things i’ve yet to grasp mysteries, survive me what lies below a lake do you gasp from fathom of discovery while lungs fill with water, best do my breathing where the air is decidedly yours
i won’t even pretend that i have anything new to say about Pieter Bruegel. here’s a quick Wikipedia rundown for those who haven’t yet run into the works of Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel. for starters, he is the father of the Netherlandish Renaissance. like most painters he wasn’t recognized as ‘a great’ while he was alive. his son, who recreated several of his paintings, carried the style and composition of his paintings for another few years until it gained recognition and influenced the likes of Peter Paul Rubens.
so there’s a brief history.
my favorite paintings by Bruegel are unsurprisingly the ones he is best known for. what made Bruegel different from artists at the time was his interpretation of layers. in nearly every painting you’ll find a bird flying in negative space above the cluttered chaotic center. the bird is meant to provide an outward commentary. the bird represents you, the person viewing the painting or viewing what the painting depicts. it’s magnificent, honestly. artists like Warhol talk about how art is less what is painted and more a conversation between the artist and the audience. we can’t know but i assume Bruegel believed the same about art. in every one of his paintings he opens a commentary between himself and the audience.
the painting i featured in this post is titled Hunters in the Snow. i won’t say anything about it because my interpretation is my own. but i deeply encourage you to reflect on this painting and find your own meaning.
i’m 25 years old, born in June, and i’ve experienced 24 Christmases in Arizona. this year Christmas will be in Ukraine. i don’t know how to say it; i’m nervous. Arizona isn’t the place you think of when you imagine a perfect Christmas but for me it is. for me it is the only place to have Christmas.
these words might only have an affect on those who experienced Christmas in Arizona but for a moment put yourself into this place.
for the past 4 years, each year, on Christmas Eve I would go for a drive. i would drive through the desert hills where the roads rise and fall in elevation. the cold air settles in the sand of the desert to where you can feel a gasp of cold air in every dip of the road. with the windows down this is the shock of cold i came out driving for. i drive back and forth on the same road and the whole time i’m listening to this song; ‘switzerland’. the ebb and flow of the accordion gives the road a new character.
moments like this have made Christmas a time for me to meditate and soak up my mirrored love for life and art colliding.
this Christmas Eve i will miss driving, i will miss the cold desert air, and i will miss this Arizona Christmas.
here are some of my favorite photos from Italian photographer, Franco Fontana:
franco fontana turns landscape shots into something that feels more like a matte painting with vibrant oily pastels and he does this by utilizing what he calls the concept of line. basically he has posited that the relationship of geometry and color is the basis for good color photography. moreover vibrant color and strict geometrical shapes brings out the best in natural rules for beauty. like an extreme taken extremely. the colors in his photos are what you would assume are the most basic form of each color. a yellow is at it’s most yellow and it should be accompanied by it’s complimentary blue.
i like this, i especially appreciate the concept of aggressive adherence to the rules of geometry and color. in my own photo i wanted to bring out the earthiness of certain yellows and blues while also maintaining their complementary nature. a little brown in the yellow adds to a little white in the blue. the green in my photo serves as a less harsh line between them softening the line of the horizon.
i decided to call my photo pomeriggio sulle colline which means ‘afternoon on the hills’.
sometime in 2016 i dove pretty deep into studying Flemish and Netherlandish paintings. while studying, i noticed a similarity in the composition of these paintings and my method of writing. the painting in this post is by the Brunswick Monogrammist, an anonymous painter accredited to several paintings which depicted Biblical events and the scenes already portrayed by the text. the painting shows Jesus’ trial before the people where the people were to decide between Barabbas and Christ. the painting does an amazing job of showing the response of the people within the crowd and i wanted to write what i saw in the painting.
/Peering through the masses clad in flesh and wine the seeking young men forged paths among those who cursed the day. Pillars of salt perched among those who had not yet feared the wrath of temporality. He who had purged his heart of tenderness./
i start by presenting the main characters of this post, the young men, in contrast against the masses. flesh is used in the Bible to refer to worldly things and here i use it in the same manner to describe the crowd of people as those who are there not understanding the purpose of the event or who may be there for entertainment only.’pillars of salt’ is here to represent faith with doubt and it is paired with ‘the wrath of temporality’ to connect those who doubt with those who have not yet heard but don’t believe (temporality being death). ‘purging your heart of tenderness’ is to show that to live in this state of anger and confusion is to remove your child-like innocence.
/Red, deep blue, ivory, and glistening black. Blissful peace exhumed from the dust bellow of his name./
the subject of the painting is Christ however the focal point leads you through the crowd towards Christ. i wanted to use color to mirror the journey the eye takes to find Christ in the crowd with the journey an individual takes to the same person, both leading to Christ over black. his name holds the highest significance here.
/Crowds of drunkards and wives chant for the king of scorn. Wisdom-boy stood on his toes to witness the feast of humanity laid at his feet. The dutiful few who will allot his salvation at the gallows. Among them the unconcerned, the unaware, and the unamused./
at the bottom center of the painting is a boy standing on a mound watching the events unfold. due to his contrasting colors i assumed him to be the righteous one watching over a scene of grand injustice. after introducing him in my post i write the last two sentences as words from his thoughts from the scene. he, like Christ, has noticed those who recognized Christ. furthermore, and finally, he has noticed that though they look similar the righteous are among the unrighteous and the characteristics that separate them are the ones that define the unrighteous: ‘unconcerned, unaware, and unamused’.
i mean it’s just so good. there’s no lead in or gentle introduction, you are immersed in the melody from the second it starts. you really become a part of it. it’s two minutes long which means there’s no space for repetition or lingering in one part of the melody. you are on a road to a clear end. when i listen to this song it feels serious and confident. some critics say it has a feeling of a calm lullaby or a “butterfly floating” feeling. i really disagree. you can hear the robotic ticking of the keys on the track being pressed like they’re given some signal; which is exactly what’s happening. the piano itself is a Disklavier piano being fed MIDI data so there is no human touch, only the coding provided by the artist telling it what to do. this gives it such a unique character that i think the melody, when played by a human, would not be able to reproduce. it’s as electronic and measured as any other track by Aphex Twin.
Michiko Chiyoda is a force that i look to as a near perfect example of the honesty needed for pure expressionism. her most recent collection “Starting a New Journey” captures the process of grief and the introspection that comes with the loss of a loved one. Chiyoda shared the story that brought about this collection and i really encourage you to read it and see the rest by clicking the date at the top of this post.
i haven’t experienced the death of a loved one and i really don’t look forward to opportunity to do so. but this photo says it all and it does so silently. what i appreciate most is the offset angle in the photograph. most seascape shots tend to carry a feeling of ‘ there’s something in the distance’ or something to look forward to but that’s not what’s being communicated here. it’s difficult to explain through a photo the feeling waves can bring. they’re powerful, dangerous, and unwelcoming. i’ve tried many times to create through my own photography the feeling of confusion and alienation i feel when i look at this photo. i can’t speak for Chiyoda or anyone else but i feel this photo carries with it the distinct feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next. which makes it all the more powerful. in contrast to the infinite horizon this gives you no opportunity to look for what’s next. you’re in it. whether you’re swimming or drowning, it is happening. and i can’t think of a more appropriate way to convey the tumultuous feelings that come with the loss of a loved one.
“i have been asking myself whether feelings toward someone who has passed away is our own internal conflict and if mourning means to keep going forward with that conflict.” Michiko Chiyoda