A visit to the chambers of Bedfordshire -based Mistress Paris provided the spark for the theme of this portrait. She told me of her love for the painting and sculpture of Michelangelo and so I developed her portrait from that.
Her chambers are called “The Oubliette” – a word used in castle architecture to denote a secret dungeon with an opening only at the top. So I showed a hand reaching up from this oubliette and Mistress Paris’s right hand reaching down to touch it, like God’s finger touching Adam in the Creation scene of the Sistine Chapel.
Her left hand holds a flayed skin as the artist depicted himself in the Last Judgement. Above hover two angels. The benevolent Angel of the Ecstasy holds a lamp to guide the reaching hand from the oubliette, while the Angel of the Agony smiles down malevolently with whip in hand.
Together they remind us of the “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, the biographical novel written 1961 by American author Irving Stone, and subsequently made into a film.
Headmistress Shahrazad of the Ritual Chamber in Toronto requested a commission inspired by “The Magician” , a Tarot card of the Major Arcana.
I tried to keep the same pose, as closely as possible, but it had to be adapted to show her dominance and relationship to her slaves so instead of a plain wooden board in front, a naked male forms a human table carrying chalice, collar and whips.
So the traditional roses and lilies were taken from below and run along the sides.
In the background a night-time Toronto skyline in storm, and lightning conducted through her purple “rod” through her body to her left hand.
For this second portrait of Mistress T –see previous here– I was requested by the lady herself to give free rein to my imagination, which I of course enjoy. Though it is not quite as free as it sounds, as the subject matter still needs to please her, and so it can’t go totally out to the furthest reaches of my imagination.
I came up with the idea of a “Circe”, an enchantress who would transform her slaves into beasts with a tap of her luminescent cane.
It is night and the setting is a Mediterranean island.
To her feet one slave is half way to becoming a dog, worshipping and licking her long thigh-boots.
In a huge glass case, her “bull” slave – strong and well endowed – kneels obediently awaiting her needs. To the left the remnants of past slaves, hanging from branches or encased in glass jars.
Maybe one day she might release them, maybe not…Odysseus is far away.
For a change I’m writing a little about something other than Sardax art, and an experience practically all of you art-lovers will have done at one time or other- visiting an art gallery.
If you have been to the Louvre in Paris you may well have witnessed this scene – the great crush to view THAT painting. Are you one of those who have felt a sense of dread at a plan to visit a famous art gallery? You are not alone!
You’ll find it a bit odd but I actually dislike art galleries; some modern ones I won’t even enter but that’s another post. I’ve tried to work out why this is as I’ll happily read books on art or watch a TV documentary but the experience of being in a gallery just overwhelms me. Thankfully a book will only show you a page at a time and leave it for you to decide when you have finished one painting and wish to move on. Similarly a documentary on an artist will at least pause for a while on one work of art before progressing to others.
But a gallery will throw any number of artworks at you at once and your attention is drawn from one to another no matter how long you wish to stay on one that has caught your interest. Moreover there is the certain feeling that unless you have seen every work you will be missing out.
So I now stick to a rule. You might like to try it next time you are taken to a gallery, but be prepared for anyone accompanying you to storm off in protest.
Decide to look at only three paintings on your visit and concentrate on them. At least 10 minutes on each. Take in the work as the artist who made it concentrated on it, and try not to be drawn to others around it. Never mind the crowds that move in front of you – they will pass soon enough. It doesn’t matter that you will be missing out on many others – there will always be art you did not see anyhow.
Flitting from one painting to another for a glance of a second or two will not make any impression other than a sense of bleary-eyed visual indigestion, irritability and a determination never to go there again. But this will leave you with a sense of great satisfaction, and each of those three paintings will be memorable to you. You will be able to comment on them intelligently over coffee with your irritable partner. Try not to sound too smug about it though.
By the way for obvious reasons this strategy will not work with the Mona Lisa.. just take a selfie and forget it!