Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sketching ideas

These are a couple of images from my sketchbook of ideas for using elements of the cityscape and blending them together, much like what I did in my painting 'I love the smell of Ammonia in the Morning' (see earlier posts on painting on copper)

This image is based on several elements of Erfurt, I liked the idea of playing with continuing/mirroring the lines of one element into another one and the resulting play in scale. I was also interested in the idea of presenting quite realistic detailed areas next to the more abstract areas and how this can represent the seemingly random elements of the city.

This sketch was based on a trip I made to Leipzig. I sketched in the building and at a later point in the day added the railings. When I added the blue marks I intended this to be quite decorative as a juxtaposition to the austerity of the block of buildings and the railings.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Sketchbook Erfurt Cont.

Another page of drawings I made while in Erfurt. I worked on these using a mechanical pencil with small lead width.

This is a drawing I did directly after the last one in which I drew Roz sleeping. The odd shape of the tree intrigued me as its small branches all pointed vertically upwards towards the sun like an anemone. This was also drawn in the Ega park Erfurt.

This is a sketch of the view from the steps of the cathedral of the Domplatz. I just roughly drew in a couple of the timber framed buildings to give myself an idea of scale in comparison to the massive obelisk in the centre of the square. The oddly shaped roofs of differing sizes and heights is a good example of the older architecture of the city. The outlined building on the far left is a more modern building and marks the passage through to the Rathaus (town hall).

Sketchbook Erfurt

I have been doing some sketching in Germany, which with the photos I have taken and the various mental notes in my head will become paintings when I get back to Scotland. This is the first page of sketches I did in Erfurt in the first week we were staying there.

This image is a view from the Schlösserstraße across the Gera towards the Anger. The mixture of traditional buildings and newer ones interested me. We were told by people we befriended from Erfurt that much of the city was quite run down until recently and that when unified with the West the city had been refurbished. I also found out that it was largely because of being in East Germany that Erfurt has so much historical and ancient buildings in it. In the west they would have sold the land to developers.. surprise, surprise and they would have been knocked down.
I used pencil and watercolour for this, drawing it out in pencil first and colouring in details with the watercolour before adding more pencil in top.

This is a drawing I did of Roz sleeping in the 'Ega Park' a large botanic gardens in the city. The weather was so hot we sat out most days in the parks or drank beer in the beer gardens.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Lucas Cranach and Erfurt cathedral

From a post on a the evil atheist Socialism.. I thought I might smoothly transition to a post on a catholic cathedral. Perhaps it is part of my upbringing (a granny who constantly told me from as young as I can remember not to trust anyone religious, or men with beards) but I am scared to enter churches or cathedral. Scared is maybe too strong a word, unworthy? Being not a religious type in the slightest I often think that the folks in these churches, being nutters as my granny hath made me believe, will smell my unreligiousness like animals smell fear and send me out to the devil with the rest (Also on a another level I don't want to offend anyone). Clearly this is stupid and my interest in art usually overrides my fear of being burnt as a heretic.

In Erfurt there was a very beautiful cathedral called the Domberg St. Marien. It set a great scene, sitting on a hill in all it's gothic spikey towers. This was the cathedral where Martin Luther was ordained, so lots o' history too.

Inside was a lot of stained glass which was our reason for being there, however it was covered with scaffolding. What a disappointment, however, there was paintings there for me to look at. In particular a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Having seen a few of his paintings of weird naked women in the national gallery I quite liked his style and was interested to see such a famous 'name' in the painting world with their work in-situ (much like the last post the work makes more sense in a cathedral, rather than in a gallery)

'The Maddona and Child with SS Catherine and Barbara'
By Lucas Cranach the Elder

The painting was interesting, although impossible to see up close as there was ropes in front. It shows the typical style of his workshop and I believe is one of only a few that he is known to have definitively done himself. The figures with oddly elongated proportions reminded me of his painting 'Venus in a Landscape'. I also went to the town of Gotha, near Erfurt, home of the founding of the German Socialist party (in yet another nod to the last post) and of the British royal family. The city centre is dominated by Schloss Friedenstein a former palace which housed King Albert of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in his days as a Prince. Later changed to Windsor during the War.. Anyway the castle inside had a pretty impressive collection of paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Younger. The paintings were very beautiful and I recommend anyone interested should go and see them.

Another cool piece of art in Erfurt Cathedral was this Bronze cast made in c. 1160 of 'Wolfram'. At 850 years old it looks remarkably modern in design, when I first saw it I thought it could have been made today.

There was also a painting donated to to the cathedral by a local family I thought was quite cool. The perspective tile element I always appreciate in an old painting, I also liked the architectural elements the artist has employed. I don't know who painted it and couldn't find any info in the church.

Socialist Realism Pt.2

Here are some more images of the mural. These complete the view of the painting (from right to left).

Socialist Realism

While staying in Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany in an ex-DDR tower block I got the opportunity to see at first hand some real live Socialist art. I don't know who painted this (and if anyone knows I would very much like to know) and how big it is, I forgot my measuring tape. It is probably (at a pretty bad estimate) 10 metres long (as I measure a metre with my arms and remember the size of the painting.. accurate) and at floor to celing it is maybe 4-5 metres high.

Being a fan of this sort of painting I liked that it still survived in-situ, not thrown in the bin after reunification. Having said that it did look a little sad in places up close and needed a repairs. It was a time warp where we were living, with lots of 60/70s furniture and wallpaper. It made where we were staying like a sort of museum which added to the paintings resonance. The painting was meant to live in a working building and affect people on a daily basis. I have seen this type of art shown in large commercial galleries amusingly and be-musingly being sold for large sums of money, or occasionally stripped entirely of their original meaning and instead some sort of kitsch joke for rich folk.

The painting follows the fairly strict rules of Socialist Realism - it represents the worker and deifies him and the Socialist struggle. The figures are painted realistically, it could not be called abstract, however it does have elements of abstraction within it. This section shows a miner.

The painting also uses mechanical objects and modern inventions as a way of selling Socialism, and the progress of humanity with figures like this pilot as heroic figures of the revolution.

The painting shows influences from futurism as can be seen in particular above and below the figures with the geometric lines which intersect and come from the figures. This is a way of portraying a feeling of motion linked to the modern machinery in the painting, and perhaps as the painter intended as portraying socialism as a modern forward moving idea.