Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Morning Sparrow!

Today the sparrow that I have known for almost a year
Wasn’t there, on that bent tree facing the lake.

I remember the day I noticed it
Sitting on the thin branch of the most arid tree
Singing its morning song,

It was last spring,
That I saw the sparrow first,
A sparrow that became regular to my mornings
Like me, being ordinary to life!

After a couple of months I decided that my sparrow is a lady
No reason at all,
Just a feeling!
She was chubbier than the others
And the brown of her head had a touch of red
Only on early hours of the day, I could spot her
Moving on a thin branch of her tree
Lecturing her daybreak song to my ears

A sparrow; the most trivial being to any landscape
Became the start of my days.

But today,
I missed my morning sparrow,
The sparrow that danced to zephyr of my mornings
Wasn’t there, on her tree.

I checked back and forth, for a couple of hours
Just to catch a glimpse of her,

The most trivial being of my landscape, was missing today,
My day did not start today!

Maybe tomorrow, my day will start again!

A Sparrow That Lived In Words, April 2008

* Happy May Day!
* Happy International Workers Day!
* And To My Parents: Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beacon Soul

Just a quick announcement: If you are in New York today, check this out: Beacon Soul book released party will be held at Open Space Gallery. My friend's, Audrey Chibbaro's, works will be featured along with 17 other artists from the Hudson Valley in the book called Beacon Soul: Beacon Soul is a book celebrating the first year of the Beacon Art Salon.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gustave Courbet’s Exhibition @ MET

A Review: Gustave Courbet, Metropolitan Museum

Considering both the number of the works (about 130 works of Gustave Courbet are displayed) and the originality of the exhibition and its catalogue, this exhibition becomes one of the greatest exhibitions of Courbet’s work in the past 30 years (Brooklyn Museum, 1988, Courbet Reconsidered). Walking through the galleries of this exhibition can be considered the most productive way to learn about Realist movement in painting, which Courbet is known as its founder. The exhibition is on view until May 18th, so you still have time to catch up with it.

My initial interest in seeing this exhibition, as I mentioned here before, was to see about twelve 1850’s photographs of nudes displaying along Courbet’s painting. These photographs are works of Julien Vallou de Villeneuve, from 1939 to 1955 and Auguste Belloc.

These small B&W photographs are exhibited parallel to Courbet’s most controversial work, L'Origine du monde (1866) in a narrow corridor out of sight created by a freestanding wall. This corridor perhaps was the most crowded spot in the 2nd floor of MET. Packed with curious pairs of eyes, overwhelmed to be face to face with the origin of their being on a 46 × 55 cm canvas. People tried to escape this moment of revelation, hiding the shock in their wide-open eyes some with a fake gravity forced to their faces and some with their teeth-showing smiles. I, among their awkward expressions, was surprised by the size of the canvas: It looked large for the wall. L’Origine du monde was commissioned for the personal erotic collection of Khalil Bey, a Turkish diplomat and former ambassador, living in Paris at the time. The work was later owned by Jacques Lacan, the famous French psychoanalyst.

Next to Courbet’s L’Origine du monde is AndrĂ© Masson’s painting, Erotic Landscape of 1955. A painting Masson made upon Lacan’s request. I think neighboring these two paintings was smart.

Although the introduction to the exhibition refers to Courbet as “The pioneering figure in the history of modernism” it is not easy to picture Courbet’s figurative compositions and landscapes as what we see as modern forms of painting today. Usually people associate the modernism with Impressionism or Picasso’s cubist paintings or even more contemporary pieces of abstract art.

It may take some time to see that Courbet is indeed the pioneer of modernism. I believe modernism started by a great change in the choice of subject matter and in the manner of portraying it, “a style that aims to break with classical and traditional forms.” my dictionary says. When one puts Courbet’s works next to samples of the most popular art movements of his time: Romanticism and Neoclassicism, it becomes inevitable to accept him as a modernist; Realism depicts subjects exactly as eyes can see them and it rejects any dramatic additions. Realists show everyday situations, objects and figures.

Among other work in this exhibition, Bonjour Monsieur Courbet (1854) has the most enchanting blue, my eyes can ever imagine. Unlike most of Courbet’s paintings, where the horizon line is high and most of the composition happens on earth, in this painting the sky and the ground meet in the middle, providing a powerful force for the bright blue of the sky in the composition. Bonjour Monsieur Courbet or Le Rencontre, was one of the works Courbet showed in an independent exhibition in 1855, when he was extremely displeased with Parisian Salon, where often academically proved and mainstream painting were exhibited. In this painting Courbet represents himself (on the right) as he is greeted by two of his patrons. The details are amazing. We can see the buttons on Courbet’s boots and the braiding on the men's coats. Courbet places himself in the middle of the painting, very unusual for that time, his head is tilted, his chin is upward and he holds his stick as if manifesting an important matter. Everyone is looking at him, the dog, the men, and us. The critics harshly criticized this painting for its forwardness and the fact that the artist is the center of the painting.

One might think that the emergence of photography would be a disaster for any realist painter. Maybe but not for Courbet, for he embraced photography; the exhibition data explains that Courbet liked to be photographed and liked to pose with different facial gestures. Courbet saw photography as an aiding device. He used it to study modes of faces and human figures.

Cezanne’s famous landscapes and Still Life paintings easily can trace back to Gustave Courbet’s works such as, still life Fruit in a Basket (1871-72) and Rocks at Mouthier (1855).

As a personal coda I like to write about Stone Breakers, one of Courbet’s most important paintings, and one of my favorite pieces of art. Stone Breakers (1850) was destroyed in 1945 in Dresden in a bombing during the Second World War. It is not just the artistic value of this painting that makes it one of my favorites; to me it brings back my childhood memories and the first lessons in art history that I got from my father. His excited voice describing this boringly earth-like painting is still with me. I remember I made fun of him by saying that “he is old for liking such a dusty and brownish color painting showing two unfortunate men, whose faces we cannot even see.” Years later, when he saw my one-minute film, also my first film, having one long plan of a gravedigger with its back to the camera composed in the frame like Courbet’s Stone Breakers, he teased me back and said, “I see you got old too.” Three years after that when I sat in professor Flam’s class taking two whole classes teaching us Courbet and his Stone Breakers, I called my father. I called him just to let him know that if appreciating Stone Breakers makes one old, he should count me in as a fossil.

If you are in the big apple just take a bite of this exhibition; you still have time.

Bonjour Monsieur Courbet, Gustave Courbet, 1854

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Golden Feathers of Simurgh!

I need your golden feathers
I need you to be here
To take me with you there

Just this once
Be real
So I can call upon you
Without fear

For the time has finally come
Here, now,
I need your golden feathers
To warm my Siberian night
To rain on my deserted sight

I need your golden feathers
To sing
The song of daylight
My sleepless night

Just this once,
So I don’t take fright
In seeing the light;

I need your golden feathers

Golden Feathers, Sanibel Island, April 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring In Princeton

I missed my train at the train station in Princeton Junction. In the 20 minutes I had to wait for the next train I inhaled these early blossoms of spring; one of many times that I was happier for having my camera with me. Do you carry yours? Read: 5 Reasons to Take Your Camera Everywhere

Tiny White & Pink Blossoms, April 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

From Pink to Blue

Back in Princeton; tired, cold and drowsy; You would feel the same coming from that beach to Princeton.*

Brooklyn Museum has a very tempting exhibition, which I will try to catch up next week: © MURAKAMI works of Takashi Murakami, the most famous of contemporary Japanese artists: he is considered a link between fine arts and media-animation.

I just finished watching Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie, The Conformist (1970) based on the novel by the same name by Alberto Moravia (1951). The movie focuses on the psychology of new bourgeoisie in fascist Italy, pretty much like most of the movies Bertolucci made in 70’s. The thing that astonished me was the scenic quality of the images, which is also apparent in the transitions between each two plans. Although this picturesque quality is visually fulfilling, sometimes the symbolism is too obvious – even for Bertolucci it is too much I think.

These days I am very much into American Film Noir and I am watching lots of movies in this genre. Soon I will write about them. Just a quick advertisement is needed here; you don’t need to be a movie lover to enjoy this genre; the good thing about them is that you don’t even need to try to follow the story, you just sit and enjoy watching a good film. If you want to start from somewhere, I suggest you start with Double Indemnity directed by Billy Wilder in 1944. I cannot stop myself from saying this: it has the most amazing dialogs one can ever imagine.

Flower Ball (3-D), Takashi Murakami, 2007

* From Pink to Blue, by RN, Sanibel Island, April 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

My Day Break!

We are in Sanibel Island, Florida for the weekend. I just got back from a long walk on the beach along the Gulf of Mexico. There is no need to say that it is humid here, my frizzy hair and sticky body scream it out loud. Last night I finally finished and sent out my article for PCCSD Peyk magazine on Qajar Royal Portraits; I will give the link as soon as this issue comes out. I had a short piece on the previous volume on Abbas Kiarostami's photographs. (English, No. 114, March & April 2008, Peyk)

In the past two weeks my New York trips were full of joyous moments and activities. I went to Courbet exhibition at MET as I had planned, and it was truly worth the time I spent there. I will write about it in another post. I think most people know, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again that Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has the pay as you wish policy, which means that you should pay something, but it can be as little as 1 cent. If you are a student I really suggest you to take advantage of this and pay as little as you wish. Of course they have a suggested fee that is written all over their website and you can see it everywhere around the museum’s information booth, and most people pay that amount without even knowing about the pay as wish policy; three years ago the suggested fee for students was $7 now it is $10.

On my other trip to New York, this week, my friend and I met with two New York based filmmakers, Hamid Rahmanian & Melissa Hibbard, (aslo his wife). They are editing their latest film, Fining Home (2008). I strongly recommend you to see their short films, Shahrbanoo (2002) and Hamid Rahmanian’s first feature film, Day Break, 2005 (Dame Sobh). It was a very pleasant meeting. After that we went for a quick lunch and then we engaged ourselves in the best thing one can do in New York city: walking and talking with a dash of gossiping.

I haven’t slept for two days now, and it is near my day break so, have a great weekend.

Study of the Nude, by Julien Vallou de Villeneuve, 1850's
This was one of the photos in Courbet Exhibition at MET

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Personal Game

A Personal Game: playing against horizon with Serra's piece,
R.N., San Francisco, 2007

Ballast, Richard Serra, 2004,
USCF San Francisco
Just to show you how Ballast looks under undisturbed light,
I took this photo in early Autumn, in the afternoon, 2007

*Just felt like playing. At first I thought the colors are soothing; not any more, They are pushing me to the edge.