23 April 2022

Charmaine Watkiss: Tenacity Serves the Warrior Well

"I learned to make my mind large, as the world is large, so that there is room for paradoxes."  -  Maxine Hong Kingston

Charmaine Watkiss iis a British artist whose parents emigrated from Jamaica.  She finds inspiration in the culture of the African Caribbean diaspora.

Watkiss works primarily with pencil and paper to create life-sized figures.  She uses material from history in ways that demonstrate the relevance of the past to the present. Tenacity Serves the Warrior Well is a self-portrait; the woman warrior wears a ceremonial floral collar and she radiates the power of the sun. Her hands are clasped calmly as she gazes into a distance we can't see.  The greenery behind her looks like Chinese brush painting so' looks like bamboo. to me!


Image: Charmaine Watkisss - Tenacity Serves the Warrior Well, 2022, watercolor and pencil on paper, courtesy of the artist, London.

17 April 2022

Odilon Redon: A Green And Pleasant Woodland Floor


"What is it that makes April and May the most pleasant months of the year? It is the verdure of the fields, which prompts the small birds to sing  and to praise Spoung and its delightful gay green livery." - J. de Courtois, Le blason de toutes de toutes armes et escutz, 1495, translation by Michel Pastoureau

Like spring leeks and onions whose .saturation goes from nearly white bulbs to emerald green, this scene is a bosky dell indeed. 

Odilon Redon (1840-1916) His artworks fall into two very different aims...prints haunted by macabre and fantastic creatures  or situations.     His oil paintings and  pastels showed such adroit use of color that even the great Matisse was an admirer.  Sous-bois au printemps is so delicately done that it appears it could be a pastel.

Image: Odilon Redon - Sous-bois au printemps, no date given, oil on paper, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

11 April 2022

Jean-Baptiste Leroux: A Green Thought In A Green Shade

To those of us who love spring best of all the  seasons, we cherish it for the reemergence of the sensual world. Le jardin (French for ornamental garden)  and le potager (French for vegetable garden) compete for our ministrations. 

In "The Garden,"  British poet Andrew Marvell (1621-1878) imagined it as a place for  place for contemplating the beauty of nature, albeit  a highly  cultivated version.  As anyone who has ever donned a pair of gardening gloves knows there is a world of work that goes into cultivating that serenity.

Jean-Baptiste Leroux was born in Touraine, France. The Loire River meanders through the region and this  geographical  happenstance, made it a favorite of  Renaissance French kings. During the Hundred Years' War, Torraine became the seat of king, safely away from Paris. For its many elegant chateaus, the region was nicknamed "the Garden of France/" 

The young photographer Leroux made that journey in reverse.. In Paris he became the director of the Nikon Gallery in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. After meeting the owner of the nearby Chateau de Courance, Leroux began to exhibit his garden photographs. His favorite subjectss are gardens and architecture. His eponymous  Collection Jean-Baptiste Leroux is part of the Reunion of French National Museums.

Image: Jena-Baptiste Leroux - Potager, undated, color positive photography, Collection Jean-Baptiste Leroux, Paris.