Monday, April 18, 2011

imperfections led to perfection.

Caravaggio. One of the rebellious artists of Baroque art in Rome who created some of the most breathtaking masterpieces of the time is often hidden in the shadows of more famous geniuses like Michelangelo. An aggresive character, it's quite easy to see how Caravaggio chose to portray a more naturalistic perspective in his paintings. While the patrons of his commissions were not always pleased with his realistic depictions of holy figures, claiming them to be disrespectful, his mastery of technique could not be denied. This can be seen in those who chose to buy his rejected paintings despite the controversy.
The following pictures are the result of a commission for the Contrarelli chapel of St. Luigi del Francesi in Rome. A three-piece project, Caravaggio was to depict the life of St.Matthew; from his calling to martyrdom. While the entire altar was unbelievably beautiful, my favorite was the centerpiece which was unfortunately rejected by the church. There were two versions of the piece which was to show the illiterate St.Matthew receiving the aid of an angel to write the gospel.
 Original version rejected by the church in 1600. (above)

Revised Version by Caravaggio (1600)

The first version shows an elderly saint in tattered robes whose hand is being directly guided by the angel in order to write. His feet are noticeably dirty, rough and it can even be said that he takes the full appearance of a farmer. Yet, there can be an unmistakable feeling of tenderness and delicate patience found in the bond formed between the martyr and the angel. St Matthew appears to the viewer, as a saint trusted wit the task of the gospel, but first and foremost as an ordinary man who has been called upon by the Lord himself. Perhaps it is this realistic nature that makes the entire piece so beautiful in its entirety...suddenly the viewer believes that such a saint could exist and that his capabilities were trusted for a powerful reason, or several at that.
The revised version shows the saint in vividly clored robes, well pressed and royally draped. The angel approaches him from above as to illuminate his better judgement, but does not come close to the saint's hand; St.Matthew writes the gospel by himself. He looks stronger and placed in a more dignified stance, looking more "presentable", following the expected image of a saint according to the church.

While the revised version that hangs in the Contrarelli chapel is still a grand mark of Caravaggio's trayectory, the imperfect version which is now lost is one of the most amazing paintings I have ever studied.
It inspires faith within me. A rare thing.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

como poder olvidarlas?

Today I paid a visit to the California Museum of Photography (CMP) in downtown Riverside, not too far away from campus. I was looking to take notes for my photography class assignment, yet I found much more in the main exhibit on the first floor.

The above are all photographs by Mexican artist Maya Goded, part of a larger project by the title of "Las Olvidadas"or The Forgotten. A theme exploring the invisibility of Mexican women in all areas of life; the kind of transparency that many experience in their homes and through the eyes of others. The exhibition is split in three categories: the women affected by the disappearences of the Juarez murders, the prostitues of Mexico City's La Merced, and those involved in the mystical healing powers that "witchcraft" has to offer.

Every face seemed to be haunted by a different ghost; every woman wanted to be taken by darkness in some way. There was so much pain in the exhibition as a whole; intense does not even begin to describe it. An immense sense of appreciation is gained by observing the suffering and harships these women have had to endure; all ages and sizes have had to go through some kind of emotional or physical beating. For such an aching to be caught on film was prayers go to every one of those women.
Goded: though I am sure your intent was not to receive praise, I applaud you.