I found an interesting initiative on Facebook where the works of artists are trolleyed around to display more art of all kinds. The artist I ended up displaying to everyone was Wassily Kandinsky and since I had not heard of him before today (to the best of my memory), I ended up scrolling through his works. ‘Bride. Russian Beauty’ captivated my interest for that split second I need to make that decision, and there it is. My first glance on it was interested but not that committed. By now, I think it is a very interesting work with great depth and emotion.
In many ways, this scene is very much alive. It displays the emotion mentioned above and depth of feeling. There is beauty and strength, and yet the infinite Russian sadness exists. And, I think that this is in many ways the point of the image. Beyond that, I do not want to put to words what I see in the picture, since I think that would destroy the image. But, I trust that you, the reader, can look at it as well as I can — and you can see if you sense any of what I have just described.
This here (translates as ‘Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan’) is a very famous propaganda poster from the Cultural Revolution — or, at least, that is what I learned when I read an article in the Economist on propaganda posters. As you can see, there is an image of the poster attached to the article and the first look I took at it stunned me. It looks perfect! Looking at it made me want to share it with others…
I can very well imagine why a picture like this has the reputation it does — Liu Chunhua really did make for a masterpiece here. The wind that has arrayed the clouds, the regional landscape, and the posture of Mao Zedong: it all makes for a very beautiful composition. And the feeling that I get when looking at it is one of strength and power, of longing and yet of a very determined being.
I was acquainted with Nicholas Pocock and his works when I read Sam Willis’ ‘The Glorious First of June’. I really enjoyed that book not only for the historical knowledge it gave me on that specific fleet action, but also for bringing in a lot of information on naval paintings.
For example, this painting here looks amazing. I would have said that before, and I would say that now. What I did not know to appreciate beforehand would have been that the ships here are moving with the roll of the sea. Mind you, I might have noticed this, but imagine the complexity of this action: the HMS Brunswick about to roll upwards with her French enemies in the opposite period about to move downwards with the crew hopefully ready to fire cannons at the specific moment when they can cause the most damage.
It is this complexity and level of detail that Nicholas Pocock brought into naval painting, and I think that he made the world a better place for it. Sure, maybe the roll of these ships can be rightly appreciated only by the officers onboard who won their lives by those waves, but I would think that a quest for such detail does not hurt in any of us.
As an interesting fact, I’ll add that I remember from Mr Willis’ book that the HMS Brunswick’s figurehead’s hat was blown away in this action and the Captain had to replace it with his own by demand of the crew!