Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How to write a Fugue (the bullshit subject Britney Spears Edition)

Fugue is a type of contrapuntal composition or compositional technique, for a specific number of parts or voices (referred to as "voices" regardless of whether the work is vocal or instrumental). The form evolved during the 17th century from several earlier types of contrapuntal compositions (imitative ricercars, capriccios, canzonas, fantasias, etc.).

One main theme (the "subject") sounds in successive imitation in each voice; when each voice has entered, the exposition is complete. This is usually followed by a connecting passage, (usually termed an episode) often developed from the opening material and further "entries" of the subject (in related keys). Episodes and entries will alternate until the "final entry" of the subject, in the same key as the opening (the tonic), followed by a coda. In this sense, fugue is a style, rather than fixed structure, of composition, and though there are certain established practices, in writing the exposition for example, composers approach the style with varying degrees of freedom and individuality.

The English term fugue originates in the 16th century and is derived from either the French or Italian fuga, which in turn comes from Latin, also fuga, which is itself related to both fugere (‘to flee’) and fugare, (‘to chase’). The adjectival form is fugal. Variants include fughetta (literally, 'a small fugue') and fugato (a passage in fugal style within another work that is not a fugue).

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The nude in art (and it`s censorship)

It has been a consistent theme and subject throughout the history of fine art. Be it religious art or portraiture, the naked human form has always fascinated mankind, and been one of the enduring subjects of art. Many of the masterpieces of fine art have featured the nude – and many were facing numerous attempts of censorship.

Consider Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel – The Last judgement, the Christian history of the world. Pushed by the pope in his young age he created a most controversial work to date and was as much condemned (for its nudity) as it was praised (for its artistry). After the death of Michelangelo, the fresco was nearly destroyed, but the Church authorities settled for Daniele da Volterra painting draperies over the offending nudity.

Another case is Gustave Courbet. On January 1864 he embarked on a large-scale figure painting destined for the upcoming Salon. Writing to the dealer J. Luquet, he described the work as „two nude woman, life size, and painted in a manner that you have never seen me do.“ In later letters he suggested that he might call it Venus in Jealous Pursuit of Psyche. But in April, when he submitted it to the Salon, he gave it the neutral title Etude de femmes, or study of Women, which allowed for a maximum freedom of interpretation. The painting, which has since disappeared, was after some apparent disagreement between the jury and the Count de Nieuwerkerke, superintendent of the Fine Arts Administration, barren from the Salon for reasons of immorality.

Today we witness quite the same attitude towards works of art featuring nudity as before. A few days ago a midnight marauder had censored the sculptures scattered through Oslo's Vigeland Sculpture Park. With the exception of one lone figure, every scrap of nipple, crotch or posterior was covered with black strips of paper, no matter the size nor position of the statue.

The unknown assailant left an explanatory note behind: "There is too much nudity in newspapers and magazines, so here on the bridge the limit has been reached!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Young blood

Do you like it? Are you attracted by it`s colour or smell? In that case it is flowing just for you – so enjoy it. Place of the feast: Bratislava, Palffy palace, Panska Street. It`s oveflowing in big streams there.

Juraj Puchovský, Michaela Nociarová-Rázusová, Petra Ševčíková, Ildikó Pálová, Igor Ondruš, Jozef Srna, Rastislav Podoba, Katarína Balážová, Ivona Žirková, Monika Hrachovinová, Ján Vasilko and others.

Miscellaneous blood group, blood young but not always fresh. The paintings of the young Slovak generation, sometimes just applying the colour on the suraface only. However, the last of the Mohicans acknowledging any value of painting today. I like the painting. As a vampire and not only during the nights.

I really like the blood of Jozef Srna (please, take notice, that here is the end of any objective coverage and begins the personal opinion), his clouds and skies in variety of forms, portrait or excelently executed figure. Jozef is cool guy and I am his fan. Maybe once I will bring you an interview with him (if he is willing to talk).

I spent a longer time by figural paintings of J. Puchovsky, I cought resonation of the courage to present a man, who quite often keeps his mouth open.

K. Balazova is exhibiting an interiors, they remind me of my recent workshop I inhabited. Doors by doors, the walls by side and some windows there. I like these forms.

The painting with good point – The eye of a prophet from R. Podoba. Great space to interpret, the mirror to the future or past. Rooted nowadays.

There was as well quite an interesting portrait Behind glass-glazing. I. Žirková.

And than The way to hell by I. Ondrus. Sometimes I think of similair paintings as of cliché. Kind of moralistic approach. I really keep distance from such a works of art, but maybe Ondrus is a different case. Come, see it yourself and make your judgement.

What the staff of the gallery thinks about the exhibition? A young man in basement definitely recognizes as a best painting the Highway to hell. He hopes it does not reflect the reality. „Some of the paintings are more interesting and some of them less. Some of them would attract children. But I think, everybody can find his cup of tea here."

Conclusion: there is a quotation on the painting of Vasilko: „Once the art will be as a hockey“. I have a feeling it already is. Most important is the tension, violence and „the young blood“.

PS: Please, leave the message of being here and reading this article. The exhibition „Young blood“ is open untill 6. may 2007.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Van Leyden

It happens sometimes. Quite unexpectedly. At an unexpected place. You anticipate an ordinary day. Then it comes. A revelation. A blow directly amid of your forehead. It hapened to me last time, when I visited National Gallery in Bratislava. The show “Flying Dutchmen” knocked me down on my knees, namely the energy shock represented by the etching of Lucas Van Leyden, which he created when he was only 14.

Just try to imagine – you are amidst of quantum etchings and woodcuts, 15 – 17 century, by itself you expect balanced works of old masters, aged and experienced men. You are ready to see Rembrandts, (eventhough they do not present the best ones), you can bear the shivering caused by the splendid harmony of the black and white kingdom of beauty.

And then suddenly – a big bang! In front of you there is a finest etching you ever saw, sensitive array of lines, a unique harmony of composition and relationship of light and obscure parts. Something really outstanding among the number of other sheets of paper:

Saint Paul Led Away to Damascus, 1509

Yes, 14 years old. This child really brought me down. With the innocent smile of confident yobbo he brought down as well all other etchings and engravings exhibited there, or which I ever saw (except of the Rembrandts and Dürers, whom he is boldly breathing on neck).

He was the pupil of his father, from whose hand no works are known. Where he learnt engraving is unknown, but he was highly skilled in that art at a very early age: the earliest known print by him (Mohammed and the Murdered Monk) dates from 1508, when he was perhaps only 14, yet reveals no trace of immaturity in inspiration or technique.

Milkmaid, 1510

Untill today I cannot completely cope with the fact, that in so early age that extremly skilled guy created works of art, which cannot be compared with any other for the next 500 (and more) years, and you can find better pieces only among Rembrandts or Dürers. Would you like to see it? Try New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Poet Virgil Suspended in a Basket, 1525

Friday, April 6, 2007

Leonardo the recordman

I used to spend a lot of time in bookstores. I like to touch the books, smell and heft them, browse through the pages. Once I found a large book about Leonardo da Vinci, I could n`t raise it up so easily. It is a half-meter long and the weight is a few kilogramms. Complete set of the Leonardo`s works, including drawings and notebooks. Here I discovered his unbeaten historical record.

Well, the book was nice, the chapters were sorted perfectly, and while looking through the part with oilpaintings, I realised that. Just take a book with complete list of Leonardo`s oilpaintings and you will see it too. Count them. All together, the 500 years of history knows only twenty Leonardo`s oilpaintings. Two of them are unfinished, just in the state of a sketch, as an underpainting.

Twenty oilpaintings. Only that preserved, but probably he did not paint much more. Here I realised it. I am not fond of that kind of conclusions, because to tell that Leonardo is better than Rembrandt is not serious. Actually, you cannot compare the masters on that level. Nevertheless, generally Leonardo is refered to as a greatest painter of the history, not a physician or scientist. We cannot deny the fact that most people consider him the best one. We cannot explain enough, why Mona Lisa is so famous, while there are many great portraits from Titian, Vélazquéz or Ingres, not to mention Picasso.

It is difficult to understand that phenomenon. After 500 years, Leonardo is still No1. Moreover, he made it with twenty oilpaintings. Comparing the number of paintings, Vermeer is close with about 40 ones. No drawings are known, unlike Leonardo. However, his fame cannot be compared. Regarding the fame, Raphael could compete, but the number of his paintings is much larger. Picasso, who in 500 years might be as famous as Leonardo, left several thousends of paintings.

Simply said, nobody can compete with Leonardo the recordman. If you wish to beat him, you have to be equally famous for at least next 500 years with less than twenty paintings. Good luck.