Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Pictures Of This And That

Last month, my partner and I stumbled across an extraordinary work of art. We wanted something dramatic as a new centrepiece for the sitting room, and both of us knew instantly that this would be perfect. The Last Dance trilogy is the creation of Joanna Pechmann, a Polish-born artist and photographer now living in Barcelona. The third image of the series depicts a young matador, composed and elegant, in concentrated conflict with a furious bull (Figure 16.1). The sheer dynamism of the picture, mounted in burgundy, dominates the entire room. The scarlet cape is just a blur, as is the bull itself, changing direction at full steam. It had to be shipped from Portland, Oregon, USA, but was well worth both the purchase cost and import tariff. The whole family loves it, and no one has yet entered the room and failed to be captivated. Joanna demonstrates, throughout her work, wonderful appreciation of small visual detail. Check out a link to her website at the end of this article.

Figure 16.1: ‘Last Dance 3’: A masterpiece by Joanna Pechmann

Copyright 2010 Joanna Pechmann

Two other impressive pieces entered our home in 2010. I have, for several years now, been fascinated by the works of Edward Hopper (1882-1967) (see link below), but it took until October to acquire anything bearing his name. In my view, no contemporary artist ever explored the themes of solitude and desolation as successfully as Hopper did. His most famous painting is Nighthawks (1942), which was ubiquitous throughout American university campuses in the 1950s and 60s. My own favourite, however, is Summer Interior (1909) (Figure 16.2), partly because the depicted model bears an uncanny resemblance to my other half (!). We purchased a print of it, on a neat 30’ x 20’ box canvas, but hung it in the privacy of our bedroom so as to prevent everyone scanning the semi-naked woman and asking my partner, in all seriousness: ‘Is that you?’

Figure 16.2: ‘Summer Interior’ by American enigma Edward Hopper

(Copyright expired)

Our third acquisition was a cheerful watercolour by an English artist called G B Cattermole. Viewed from the left bank of the River Dee at Chester, England, it depicts the famous Groves esplanade, which is one of my favourite places in the entire world, never mind just my birth county. Unfortunately, there is no digital image of this painting available, but this classy shot (Figure 16.3), taken by photographer Ian Price (see link below), captures the scene to perfection.

Figure 16.3: Queen’s Park Suspension Bridge spanning the River Dee at Chester – and a photograph which does the place justice

Copyright 2010 Ian Price

Reproduced by kind permission

To the far right of the picture, beyond the bridge (built in 1923) and neat avenue of trees shading the terraced seating at the water’s edge, there is a quirky little retro café called The Blue Moon (see link below). Entering this small hideaway represents an authentic step-back-in-time to the days of early rock ’n’ roll. Its walls are adorned with 50s and 60s pop memorabilia, and there is even a 1961 Ami Continental jukebox. Music of that era drifts from unobtrusive wall speakers, and there is also a single screen showing monochrome videos. Oddly, though, the sound and visual footage play independently of one another. The raucous, close-to-breaking voice of John Lennon yelling Twist And Shout might well be accompanied by images of Gene Pitney crooning Twenty-four Hours From Tulsa. One would have to be drunk not to catch on to the discrepancy; although even when sober, it still takes some getting used to.

As 2010 finally takes its bow, I thought I might also answer a few questions that have been raised since the birth of this website. Firstly, to everyone on the lookout for further acrostics: just to save you the trouble, there will (probably) be no more. There! More seriously, interest in these short pieces has exceeded both my hopes and expectations. The ‘Profile’ page alone has attracted an average of 1,400 hits per month; and, of the articles themselves, numbers 2, 10, 12 and 13 have proved the most popular to date.

What more can I say, other than Happy New Year?

Copyright 2011 Paul Spradbery

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