Some Advice and a Song from Michael Butler

23, April 2012 § Leave a comment

Michael Butler, curator of the Sidney Cooper Gallery at  Canterbury Christ Church College in Canterbury, England recently visited  Greece and dropped by the Aegean Center.  Traveling with his wife, Claire, they felt the need for some sunshine and came to renew their acquaintance with the landscape which Michael had backpacked through many years ago. Michael was introduced to John Pack when the exhibit, The Greater Journey, with John’s photographs and poetry by Peter Abbs, was hosted by the Sidney Cooper Gallery in 2008.

We urged Michael to give us a short talk on whatever topic he wished.  We were treated to an abbreviated summary of his career choices (as a youth he sang with Benjamin Britten),  an inventory of suggestions for artists when approaching a gallery, and a lovely song which he adapted from Purcell’s Fairest Isle and to which he wrote new words reflecting his Paros stay. He sang this a cappella in a lovely high baritone.  We include his lyrics here:

To Paros

Fairest Isle
All dreams excelling
Source of beauties
And of love.

*
The Gods’ own blessings
Fell upon it
Crowned with glories
Wreathed in light.

*
Artemis and Apollo’s
Temples
Marbled Halls
With statues bold.

*
Speak of times where
Man’s invention
Chimed in union
With this world.

His best advice:  your CV is not a list of what you have done but an invitation to live fully and fill in the blank spaces as you go.

Thank you, Mike.

– Jane Pack

Rafael Mahdavi at the Center

20, April 2012 § Leave a comment

Rafael Mahdavi is a painter  and sculptor.  Son of an American mother and a Persian father he was born in Mexico, has lived and worked in America, France, Greece, Austria, Spain and England.  He has quadruple nationality, France, American, Mexican and Iranian.    He may be truly the man of the age:  cosmopolitan, multicultural,  an educated artist , scholar and self made man.

He gave a talk and slide lecture at the Center this month which he entitled Forty Years in Four Minutes.  This was accompanied by a musical piece written by his son.  He then talked in depth about a dozen of his seminal pieces and spoke about his process.  His painting incorporates photographic images, patterning and slashing brush marks.  His work is autobiographical, textured and sometimes includes language.  We saw several pieces based on the braille alphabet, paintings based on personal symbolism, and some large, folding metal fabricated sculptures.

“If painting is to communicate anything and be in the world of people looking at painting, it must be about something other than itself. These ideas made me take a hard look at my work since New York. In the late nineties I started to cull the beginnings of a visual and recognizable alphabet from that era: shoes as home, posts as demarcation in a landscape, the body as landscape. The broken sun- glasses represent the idea that some images are shattering, and the camera symbolizes painting’s nemesis. I continued to elaborate and implement this visual alphabet in my painting: Braille representing touch and the opposites, sight and blindness. Shells as a personal music; water as the absence of taste; the dog as fidelity and poverty. The diver/leaper represents the plunge into the unknown, the leap of faith.”  (from his website http://www.rafaelmahdavi.com)

– Jane Pack

Euphrosyne Doxiadis at the Center

16, April 2012 § 1 Comment

Euphrosyne Doxiadis, working her persuasive powers and demonstrating her intense passion, gave the students two wonderful lectures this last month.  Her first, The Mysterious Fayum Portraits, opened their eyes to the high level of artistic wizardry which created the portraits of people living in Hellenistic Egypt in the first century after Christ.  These portraits look wonderfully fresh and alive after being pulled from the sand of the desert where they had been affixed to mummies.  We wonder at their clarity, color and modern feel.  The painting students who are currently learning the four color palette, the same ancient system as was used by the Greek masters, saw the depth and variety this limited palette allows.  Euphrosyne went into some detail as to the technical procedure so that the students could realize they are participants in a long line of painting tradition spanning the ages.

Detail from Roman Charity by Peter Paul Rubens

Detail from Samson and Delilah by ?

The second lecture was equally fascinating.  Euphrosyne believes, and has convinced us all, that the Rubens painting in the National Gallery in London,  the Samson and Delilah, is a forgery.  With precision and evident distaste she pointed out the particular flaws which demonstrate that this could not be an original:  the lack of convincing brushwork, the flattened spacial elements, the poor understanding of form, the inky black background that comes against but not behind the figures.  All of these things and many more are tell-tale signs that Rubens had no hand in the piece.  Her website http://www.afterrubens.org tells the whole story.  No one left the lecture with any doubts.

– Jane Pack

13, April 2012 § 1 Comment

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