Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Travels in Italy and England

Back home and in the studio after travelling in Northern Italy with Alex and in Oxford for an Art and Anatomy course at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.  Found several examples of folded paper fragments painted in trompe l' oeil in the collection of the Castelvecchio Museum of Verona.....

.....and this wonderful fragment of trompe l' oeil fresco in the church of St. Anastasia with the classical moulding of a door case painted to scale.  The flatness of the plastered wall clearly contradicts the illusion of depth and closes the suggestion of an opening into space. Where we expect the focus to be - in the space of the opening created by the frame - there is 'nothing'. The frame is the image, a seemingly three dimensional 'form' circumscribing 'flat' space. Is this a door leading nowhere or an illusion leading to a reality ? 

 Reading Don Quixote again after many years - surely this is the ultimate literary equivalent of the visual tromp l' oeil. 

Don Quixote's madness derives from his obsessive reading of chivalric stories and his gradual dis-engagement with his illusions when confronted with reality are all fictions and conceits from the creative imagination of the author, fictions inside a fiction, an inverted or indirect mirror of reality for the author and his reader to discover the inter-dependent nature of and relationship between reality and illusion, reason and madness, art and life. 

I found this article by Peter Dunn entitled "Don Quijote through the Looking-Glass"  that seems relevant  both to the act of looking / painting and reading / writing. It comes from

"Don Quijote through the Looking-Glass"

This convergence of the metaphors of mirror and book, of image and copy, may be particularly suggestive for our reading of Don Quijote.
     What is fascinating about the images that we see in mirrors, and in books, is that they condense into a small area objects that in reality occupy a lot of space, and still manage to look life-size. Mirrors can enclose within their small surface the limitless depth of space and sky, which is mystery enough; but they may also puzzle and surprise us with the sharpness of their images, and with their curious deviations from what is expected. Mirrors thereby presume an inner authority, which disconcerts us by contradicting what we feel sure we know. They make us see ourselves as other, because they do not conceal what we usually conceal from ourselves: Velázquez's “Rokeby Venus”, in front of her glass makes the point with her peculiar reflection. But in fact there is no authority that could be identified within the mirror. And the glass as metaphor can deceive, too; the mirror of art presents images structured according to the shapes desired by the perceiving mind. Velázquez's Venus sees herself as she wants us to see her. Mirror images, therefore, leave us with two uncomfortable paradoxes. The first is that two worlds can be made to occupy one space, the world of the mirror in the world that is being mirrored. The second is that one world can double itself into two spaces. But in art, these are not paradoxes, for in art two worlds can occupy a single space. 

Peter Dunn 

From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 12.1 (1992): 5-17.

No comments:

Post a Comment