January Offerings – Part XXIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Alex Gnidziejko

In the words of one writer, “In the style of heightened realism, Alex Gnidziejko’s paintings are reminiscent of the Dutch masters of the 16th and 17th centuries. Gnidziejko’s painstaking technique of egg tempera emulsion and oil give his paintings a stunning depth and three-dimensional quality. The process he uses starts with a precise under painting with white egg tempera. Using small brush strokes that follow the contour of the subject, Gnidziejko brings definition to the form and accentuates its highlights. Transparent oil glazes of complementary colors are then applied to the painting. By building up many layers of these glazes over luminescent egg tempera, Gnidziejko is able to achieve the life-like quality that characterizes his paintings.”

Dutch painter Mathisse Arendsen (born 1948) studied at the Academy for Visual Arts in Arnhem.

“There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness.”
– Marie-Henri Beyle, known by his pen name Stendhal, French writer and author of “The Red and the Black,” who was born 23 January 1783.

Some quotes from the work of Stendhal:

“All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.”
“Our true passions are selfish.”
“Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it.”
“Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness.”
“One can acquire everything in solitude except character.”
“After moral poisoning, one requires physical remedies and a bottle of champagne.”
“Love born in the brain is more spirited, doubtless, than true love, but it has only flashes of enthusiasm; it knows itself too well, it criticizes itself incessantly; so far from banishing thought, it is itself reared only upon a structure of thought.”
“A melancholy air can never be the right thing; what you want is a bored air. If you are melancholy, it must be because you want something, there is something in which you have not succeeded.
It is shewing your inferiority. If you are bored, on the other hand, it is the person who has tried in vain to please you who is inferior.”
“A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.”
“Faith, I am no such fool; everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”
“Nothing is so hideous as an obsolete fashion.”
“Ah, Sir, a novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.”
“The idea which tyrants find most useful is the idea of God.”

“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.” – Edouard Manet, French painter and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, who was born 23 January 1831.

Below (left to right) – “The Luncheon on the Grass”; “Music in the Tullerias”; “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere”; “Olympia”; “The Café Concert”; “Young Flautist.”

“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” – Salvador Dali, Spanish surrealist painter, who died 23 January 1989.

Below (left to right) – “The Persistence of Memory”; “Metamorphosis of Narcissus”; “Leda Atomica”; “Basket of Bread“; “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus”; “Fiesta in Figueres.”

“Because I see the world poisoned
by cant and brutal self-seeking,
must I be silent about
the useless waterlily, the dunnock’s nest
in the hedgeback?” – From “Balances,” by Norman MacCaig, Scottish poet and teacher, who died 23 January 1996.

“Ineducable Me”

I don’t learn much, I’m a man
of no improvements. My nose snuffs the air
in an amateurish way. My profound ideas
were once toys on the floor, I love them, I’ve licked
most of the paint off. A whisky glass
is a rattle I don’t shake. When I love
a person, a place, an object, I don’t see
what there is to argue about.

I learned words, I learned words: but half of them
died for lack of exercise. And the ones I use
often look at me with a look that whispers, Liar.

How I admire the elder duck that dives
with a neat loop and no splash and the gannet that suddenly
harpoons the sea – I’m a guillemot
that still dives
in the first way it thought of: poke your head under
and fly down.

Here is Ukrainian painter Anton Yakutovych (born 1975) discussing his artistry:
“I have been doing etching, lithography and painting since my earliest childhood. These disciplines complement each other, since the graphic arts bring rigour to one’s work and painting a sense of freedom.
I come from a country in the former USSR where classical techniques are still taught in schools and I grew up in a family of artists. I studied in circles where I was kept informed about the social and cultural changes in the world. I have a very pronounced taste for films, rock music and literature. I am naturally part of this post-modern age we live in where popular art, drawing nourishment from high art, has become exceedingly sophisticated.
For each new painting, my point of departure is a series of questions that were left unresolved when I completed the previous one. This first state is one of confusion, a strange impression of having lost the thread. Several pages covered in sketches that contain no real leads and are generally of no use.
Then finally the right rough sketch, the right idea emerges and the thread is restored. Then comes the work on the canvas, followed by a sort of frenzy. Tones, technique and information intermingle.
Eagerness gives way to reason, to restraint, to a long series of coming and goings between doing and looking, until a balance is reached. Once all the elements are in place, an accent, a distinctive characteristic still needs to be found, a surprise that will render the work unique and complete.
My characters exist less for their human properties than for their sculptural quality. The attitudes they adopt in my works are at the service of the composition and the rhythm. The foreground of sculptures in action creates a break in the accumulation of information. Constructing a completely realistic or fantastic scene is of less importance to me than revealing a subtle arrangement of the zones and the planes.
I take the mechanisms of reality as my inspiration and, although I do not reproduce all their workings, they form the basis of my imaginary world. At first sight, what strikes the eye is a series of objects set in a subtle fantasy scene, but if one looks more closely at the work, for example by isolating one particular detail from the rest of the painting, one’s eye will be guided from these familiar objects through a variety of plastic experiences.
The small story the painting tells, the viewer’s identification with it, the role-play, all of these fade into variations on the theme, a sweet obsession of mine. This theme unfolds throughout the exhibition like a collection of scenes in which fragmented harmony, controlled disorder and childhood memories blend and blur into each other to create a multitude of references and interpretations.”

American Art – Part II of III: Carol Carter

Here is the Artist Statement of painter Carol Carter: “Having grown up in Florida, my strongest visual impression of an environment for human activity is water. In much of my work, water provides the setting for anonymous figures. Watercolors of nudes, as well as black and white nudes are in my portfolio. The nude swimmer- evocative and sensual watercolour painting is a signature theme.
 The paintings contain duality: clarity and ambiguity; sanctuary and threat; pleasure and pain. The use of vibrant, saturated-color contributes to the tension between these extremes.”

From the American History Archives: The Baker Massacre

23 January 1870 – The United States Cavalry, under the command of Major Eugene Baker, attacks a Blackfoot Indian camp in Montana, resulting in the deaths of 173 Native Americans, most of them women and children. Here is the description of the massacre given by Bear Head, who survived it: “(A)t once all of the seizers began shooting into the lodges. Chief Heavy Runner ran from his lodge toward the seizers on the (river) bank. He was shouting to them and waving a paper … a writing saying that he was a good and peaceful man, a friend of the whites. He had run but a few steps when he fell, his body pierced with bullets.
Inside the lodges men were yelling, terribly frightened women and children screaming, screaming from wounds, from pain as they died. I saw a few men and women escaping from the lodges, shot down as they ran. … I sat before the ruin of my lodge and felt sick. I wished the seizers had killed me, too.”

Above – Major Eugene Baker, center, ninth from left leaning on railing, poses with Army officers at Fort Ellis in this 1870 photograph.
Below – The Crazy Dog Society singing at the Baker Massacre Memorial.

American Art – Part III of III: Louise Peabody

Artist Statement: “My paintings and drawings are emotional narratives that explore the unseen — a subtle world of psychic energy. A reality lies below the surface and is revealed through visual clues. In creating a likeness of my subjects, I transcend their physical presence, capturing the who versus the what in the person before me.”

A Poem for Today

“The Changing Light,”
By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The changing light
at San Francisco
is none of your East Coast light
none of your
pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
after the fog burns off
and the sun paints white houses
with the sea light of Greece
with sharp clean shadows
making the town look like
it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o’clock
sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
when the new night fog
floats in
And in that vale of light
the city drifts
anchorless upon the ocean


According to one critic, the art of Canadian painter Christopher Walker “is best described as perceptual realism. This complex method of analysis of form and composition can only be derived from the actual experience of the subject. The artist attempts to convey a unique interpretation of the subject based on personal associations and intellectual perspectives. The concept then progresses to multiple juxtaposition of various elements to achieve an infinite range of distinctive metaphoric combinations.
Walker’s various artistic influences range from the Renaissance Flemish masters to contemporary realists, impressionists and abstract expressionists. Having experimented in these particular styles, the artist has refined his technique and composition to blending the traditional method with a unique contemporary flair.”

The Words and Art of Emily Carr – Part I of III

“Trees love to toss and sway; they make such happy noises.”

Below – “Wind in the Tree Tops.”

The Words and Art of Emily Carr – Part II of III

“I sat staring, staring, staring – half lost, learning a new language or rather the same language in a different dialect. So still were the big woods where I sat, sound might not yet have been born.”

Below – “A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth.”

The Words and Art of Emily Carr – Part III of III

“There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness.”

Below – “Above the Trees.”

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