Monday, August 17, 2009

Radha Inviting Rubens to Her Pavillion

This weekend I finally got a chunk of time to prep canvases and paint.

This weekend's painting builds on my idea about combining Rubens with Indian miniatures.

I am totally taken with with the colors I am finding in the book I got on Indian miniatures. I love the graphic compositions and I'm looking at these to get inspiration for my "quiet" spaces. And I love the theatre of the Rubens. I'm looking at "The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus". I've also realized that the bible my mom had when I was growing up was illustrated with Rubens paintings. I swear that "The Lion Hunt" (1621) was in there--though it doesn't appear to be very biblical, just violent -- as I think was "The Raising of the Cross". So, my mom's bible probably had some role in the early development of my "taste".

I'm intrigued with the gesture of the arm and the hand of Rahda inviting Krishna into her tent and the gesture of the daughter being swept up by the horseman. The strong, poise, powerful gesture and the desperate, theatrical reaching into the empty air.

Yet I'm finding surprising compositional similarities. The wave of blue fabric in the left corner of the Rahda; the wave of the red cape and horses mane in the upper left of the Rubens. The reds and the blues.

I want to look at Artemisia Gentileschi. Not only as a comparison, but how the theme of rape (since it seems to appear quite frequently in Baroque painting) is portrayed, as well as the painting of powerful women (Judith). In this link is mentioned a book "Artemisia Gentileschi - The Image of The Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art," by Mary D. Garrard.

Added 8/18/09: In particular, I am re-reading the Crit Theory I articles by Mary Garrard, Linda Nochlin, and Griselda Pollock. (I should already have a first draft of the second paper, but I'm just getting started). I'm thinking about how gender and social context works in how the same themes are presented in a painting. For example, Gentileschi's painting of Susanna and the Elders as compared to Tintoretto's treatment of the same subject. In Tintoretto's painting, Susanna is painted in a way that allows the (male) viewer to indulge in voyeuristic pleasure. Susanna is vainly (perhaps coyly) consuming her own image as the Elders peek at her. In Gentileschi's painting, Susanna is cowering, vulnerable, defensive and you can read her discomfort and the Elders' power over her. I think this is what I am seeing in contrasting the hand gestures of the Rubens' female characters with the hand gesture of Rahda. The way the Rubens' female's hand limply lays on her attacker's arm... not a realistic portrayal, so what does it say about the attitudes of the painter and the viewers who would visually consume the work. As Linda Nochlin says in "The Imaginary Orient", the Near East "existed as...a fastasy space or screen onto which strong desires--erotic, sadistic, or both--could be projected with impunity." Why is the Indian miniature not so "loaded" for me? Also, after reading Garrard's "The MoMa's Hot Mamas", I'm wondering about how I relate to Abstract Expressionism as a woman painting in 2009. I have been influenced in particular by De Kooning's work and style and first explored abstraction and gesture through the figure... My thoughts on this are undeveloped at this point... How do women artists like Cecily Brown and Joan Snyder take abstract expressionism and other historical styles and somehow turn them on their heads (not sure I believe that yet, but I've read statements suggesting that they do).

From Radha Inviting Rubens to her Pavillion

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