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A RED FLOWER
Some time ago I met a friend from high school.
His name is Marco. He made me a gift, a book of poems written by his uncle Franco
whose title is \"Come passa il vento fra i rami\" [\"The way wind blows through the branches\"].
He also asked me to make a painting on one or more of his uncle's poems and told me I was completely free to decide among them.
And yes, I forgot to say that he also convinced me to make a video on the making of the painting.
A painting about a poem...
As a student at the Academy of fine arts I studied art and painting and I also focused on the subject of \"poetry\" and \"prose\",
on what is our concept of poetry and prose and how can painting speak about them.
Octavio Paz, a great poet, used to say that poetry is such when each word keeps more meanings,
all the meanings that such word can have.
A poet is actually able to free all the evocative strength of words,
whereas in prose or in narrative each word has to keep a univocal meaning,
the exact meaning that an author needs to go on with his story.
In prose all words have to obey to one meaning,
while in poetry words are free and such freedom of meaning is the heart of poetry.
The same thing applies to painting: colours and shapes can be used like words are used.
I don't want to keep more on this subject, so I come to my conclusions: as a painter, I definetly consider myself a prosaic painter.
Just to give you an idea: if I was a writer, I would write novels, and not poems,
where words can merrily flutter here and there and say one thing and then another one.
I would use words like slaves who have to carry a stone and to place it in the right place to build the great pyramid of narration.
So I didn't know how to behave in front of my friend's request: I wanted to connect the painting to the world of poetry, where words are free,
but as I said I don't like to give such freedom to shapes and colours, that are the words in painting.
I rather like to give them a precise descriptive rationality, to describe things as they are,
no flutterings, just plain reality.
Well...then I started reading the book looking for a poem that might be source of inspiration for a painting
\"first love\"
a sparkle in your eyes / like wood dew under / the first sun
\"rose thief\"
you tell me who I am? / what I am doing?
I live / but this is not the life / I want to live
\"outskirts\"
and buildings are cubes / and streetlights are candles / people's coffins
\"black and white\"
a white point in a black background / It may seem a small thing / but it's the whole world
And then, I came across a drawing among those that go with the poems.
This drawing refers to the poem \"Loosen your hair\"
and it cought my attention while I was still thinking about the relationship between poetry and prose.
In this drawing, made by the author Franco Rossi, a line traces a girl's face
while other lines move all around and trace her hair forming a wild mass.
I believe that this drawing unifies in a single image what I intend for prose and poetry,
The line of the face is precise, has a road to trace and cannot vary, if not a little bit, otherwise it would lose its meaning:
this line is prose.
Can you see it is a slave? It is subdued in any single curve to its inevitable course. Nose, mouth, chin...
On the other hand, the lines of the hair are poetry, free words...
They also have a meaning, each line is a hair, but they can be drawn so freely!
They can go anywhere, bend and curve as they like, any single hair cannot be more hair than the other.
Differently from the girl's profile, the beauty of the hair is not in the precision of the shape,
but in the richness of signs, in... in the joy of the drawing itself,
that encloses the author's emotions and refers to the poem that was source of its inspiration: \"Loosen your hair\".
The great french poet Paul Valery used to say that prose marches, and poetry dances
And then, can you see? The lines of the hair are so free that some of them start like hair
and then go on into the background losing their small precise meaning
until they become completely abstract lines and pure drawing, almost decoration.
To distinguish them from the hair is almost impossible.
Within such crazy freedom of the hair lines, we need one single prosaic line to give meaning to the whole drawing:
if we deleted such line that traces the profile and gives meaning to the drawing, what would remain?
Who would tell us that those entangled lines are hair?
We feel enchanted but also puzzled by such whirl of signs.
Therefore that single line is like the meaning's sheet anchor in the sea of craziness.
Yes, I like the idea of relationship between poetry and prose that the drawing suggests to me,
and the subject of hair will be my support and my anchor when I lean out of the world of prose and rationality
to step on the world of poetry and craziness.
I would say that for a prosaic painter hair can be like a Sunday journey, an exception to the rule, the Carnival,
when nature in her own realism abandons her strictness and relax for a while.
During the days I was considering such ideas, I discovered that they were not totally original.
At the end of the 19th century the German historian and art critic Aby Warburg wrote an essay on Botticelli's masterpiece The Birth of Venus.
He believed that even during Renaissance, a period in which the rationality of closed and precise shape, \"the Apollonian figure\",
and I could say the \"prosaic figure\" dominated the field of painting and figurative arts,
it was often through objects moved by the wind, usually hair or draping,
that the artist set himself free from the stylistic yoke and dedicated himself to images free from rationality.
Thanks to their movement the artist could be closer to emotions, feelings, and also mystery and anxiety,
to what Warburg calls -- referring to the painting -- intensified life or feeling formula, the Dionysiac moment of images,
that I could also call the \"moment of poetry\".
The shapes of the goddess of beauty are closed in dark and very marked lines, typical of Botticelli,
and outline the body with surgical precision.
It's in the goddess' hair that such formal rules start to break, and even if in some parts hair are tied up with ribbons,
they are too many to be tamed. The wind blows and free them from any constraint.
So hair can be painted like loosen and free lines that do not obey to strict rules
and in these movements the painter's brush finally finds its moment of anarchy.
So, to resume:
I will base my work on the drawing that goes with the poem \"Loosen your hair\" and I will make a personal version,
where the hair will be the centre of the painting since they are the place where poetry ca be painted within a context that will inevitably be prosaic,
and I say inevitably because - if it is still not clear-- I like reality and I like painting it as it is,
and I cannot do anything about it.
And yet the poem \"Loosen your hair\" does not totally convince me.
I can't see a definite painting image in it...
I can see it instead in the following poem, called \"A red flower\".
So I decide to use the poem \"A red flower\" as my base for the image by insisting on the element of loosen hair,
since this poem talks about hair, too.
Those few verses describe a person, recalled from far memories, who has a red flower in her dark hair,
a smiling face, in the bloom of youth, with an avid mouth, a life like music of sea waves...
Now, the image I want to paint is clear: a whole figure, walking on the surface of the water and coming towards myself,
she is smiling, she has long loose hair decorated by a red flower.
Mmh...not too bad,
but maybe I'd better give up the self-portrait this time.
I could ask to a friend,
yes, it's better...
Now I need to chose and eventually elaborate the image that will be painted...
I took a lot of pictures of Giulia, my friend that kindly accepted to be my model,
and all the pictures show her whole figure -- as I had decided -- walking by the sea with a red flower in her loose hair, of course...
I make a first skimming by evaluating the background, the pose, the expression, the hair movement,
looking for the closest picture to the image that the poet may have had in his mind when he wrote \" a red flower\".
But those images do not convince me. More than risking to make a painting that could be perfect for a Harmony novel cover
-- a risk that I have been fearing since the beginning --
it suddenly seems to me that a life-size painting of a girl walking by the sea is an image too rich,
with too many things told for too long if compared to a short poem of a few verses that was the source of my inspiration.
Eugenio Montale used to say that poetry is an emotion and emotions cannot last more than 45 minutes...
Now, that image seemed to last 45 minutes...too much stuff.
So to be more faithful to the characteristics of the poem I decide to focus only on the fundamental elements,
especially on the red flower on one side and on the loose hair on the other side.
Both the elements will develop around the focal point: Giulia's face, her portrait.
I start evaluating all the images by considering only the face, not the pose or the background, and then I chose a picture.
Now there's the question of the backgrounds to be solved.
First of all, I want the background to be reduced at its minimum and I leave only a clean sky, a great blue background, like in the pictures.
It is a minimalist choice to enhance the isolation and the synthetic strength that an image needs to have.
Initially, I thought to paint the line of the sea or a cloud but then I decided to leave the colour pure
in order to move it away as much as possible from the acknowledgment of its natural meaning of sky
and to move it towards the purity of colour itself.
If I painted the sea or a cloud, the background would be immediately recognizable as sky.
Instead, I would like the colour to be enjoyed at least for a second without giving it a precise meaning,
so that one can question about it and wonder if any other colour existed before it,
before understanding that it is nothing else than a clear blue sky.
And I want a lot of background, a lot of blue, all around the girl so that she remains isolated and unreachable.
Given that this subject risks, as I said, the Harmony cover effect,
I believe that this composition with a lot of empty background overcomes the risk by making the portrait less banal and by increasing its poetical strength.
And, be aware, the poetical strength is not poetry... but this is another story.
I start with a preparatory drawing.
It helps to get familiar with the image... As if it was your first meeting,
you familiarize yourself with the shapes of the drawing and the values of chiaroscuro
and you consider the final dimensions of the painting and the elements that will form it.
Even if it is often undervalued, the dimension of a painting is actually one of the more important aspects.
In this case it is even fundamental to understand the relationship between figure and background.
And now the painting: canvas placement.
On a well outstretched canvas you spread several layers of a glue and plaster mix.
In this way, the cotton canvas can receive, absorb and keep the oil colour in the right manner.
As poems trace rapid and fleeting sketches, and do not go into details
since precision means prose and it's their enemy,
I also paint a layer of rapid, light and little defined sketches. Especially in the hair,
I just sketch the image so that it gets closer to the poem from which it comes from.
You had a red flower/ in your silky black hair/
you had a red flower/ on your young and warm heart/
and life was beautiful and fresh and alive/
like the song of the foam of the sea/
and life was beautiful and eternal/
like the vermilion flower of your avid mouth/ of youth/
you had a red flower/
a red flower/
you had.
From an idea of MARCO ROSSI
Subtitles by FRANCESCA GRASSIA
Musics by A. PONCHIELLI, G. DONIZETTI, G. PUCCINI, G. ROSSINI
\"a red flower\" and all the other poems taken from \"The way wind blows through the branches\" are read by the author FRANCO ROSSI
model: GIULIA DALL'ARA
video, texts, images, and voice by ELVIS SPADONI
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Un fiore rosso - A Red Flower

52 タグ追加 保存
silongyang080 2019 年 5 月 15 日 に公開
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