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My Inspiration for June 2020

30 Jun

The thing that gave me the most excitement this June were the books that I’ve read and am still reading; “Stepford Wives” by Ira Levin; simple manner in which the novel was written hides the deeper, haunting themes and it left me thinking and pondering, then Stephen King’s “Carrie” which was as amazing as I had expected and I found that I could relate to Carrie as an outsider and a weirdo in high school, and I am still reading a novel which seduced me from page one; John Fowles’s “The Collector” published in 1963, about a socially awkward guy who collects butterflies and one day kidnaps a girl he’d spent time admiring from afar, wildly enthusiastically hoping that she would then see his good side and fall in love with him, which you can imagine doesn’t quite happen. I’ve read a few interviews with Bret Easton Ellis which sparked my interest in his work again. Visually speaking, the landscape of my imagination was haunted by outdoor scenes of flowers and leisure, Frieseke’s magical garden scenes, paintings of rosy cheeked girls by Robert Henri, Charles Burchfield’s poetic decay, Prendergast’s delightful watercolours of ladies in parks, with elegant parasols and hats.

“Feelings aren’t facts and opinions aren’t crimes and aesthetics still count—and the reason I’m a writer is to present an aesthetic, things that are true without always having to be factual or immutable.”

(Bret Easton Ellis)

“Remember June’s long days, and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.

(Adam Zagajewski, from “Try to Praise the Mutilated World”)

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Catherine Deneuve in UK filming 1965 British psychological horror Repulsion, London, Friday 2nd October 1964. Photo by Wilson.

Model and actress Ingrid Boulting, London, UK, February 1968, Photo by Hilaria McCarthy/Daily Express.

chrysanthemum by keika hasegawa

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Dreamy Autochromes – A Girl in Red On the Beach

4 Jun
“And from then on I bathed in the Poem
Of the Sea, infused with stars and lactescent,
Devouring the azure verses; where, like a pale elated
Piece of flotsam, a pensive drowned figure sometimes sinks;
 
Where, suddenly dyeing the blueness, delirium
And slow rhythms under the streaking of daylight,
Stronger than alcohol, vaster than our lyres,
The bitter redness of love ferments!
(Rimbaud, Drunken Boat)

These wonderful dreamy autochrome photographs of a girl in a red bathing suit at a rocky beach were taken by Mervyn O’Gorman (1871-1958). Similar to the Belgian artist Alfonse van Besten whose autochrome photographs I wrote about before, O’Gorman wasn’t a professional photographer, but rather an engineer with an interest in photography. Alongside knowing the autochrome technique, he clearly had a knack for aesthetic and beauty as well and that is what makes these photographs so timeless and captivating. The thin, pale and pretty strawberry-haired girl was O’Gorman’s daughter Christina and these photographs were taken on a rocky beach in Dorset in 1913. The pictures have a dreamy, nostalgic air which makes them belong to a world of the past, but they also seem modern in some way, maybe it’s because Christina’s poses, setting and even clothes seem modern. Naturally, the kind of bathing suit she is seen wearing is nothing like those she would be wearing today, but when we think of the Edwardian times, an image of a girl on the beach, with bare knees and barefoot certainly isn’t the first thing which comes to mind. There’s a dreamy veil over these photographs, and a tinge of sweet sensuality as well; Christina in her red bathing suit is like a shy poppy flower which starts blooming and, raising its head toward the blue sky, starts being aware of its own beauty and charm. Every time I see the boat in the background of the autochrome above, it makes me think of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Drunken Boat”:

“But, in truth, I have wept too much! Dawns are heartbreaking.

Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter.

Acrid love has swollen me with intoxicating torpor

O let my keel burst! O let me go into the sea!

 

If I want a water of Europe, it is the black

Cold puddle where in the sweet-smelling twilight

A squatting child full of sadness releases

A boat as fragile as a May butterfly.”

Autochromes from the beach are certainly the most striking, but O’Gorman took many more pictures of his daughter Christina and she is always seen in this lovely, vibrant red which instantly captivates the viewer and brings the attention to Christina. In the last picture you can also see O’Gorman’s wife and other daughter, also on the beach.

Percy Bysshe Shelley: Poor captive bird who from thy narrow cage pourest such music

30 May

Bitter-sweet verses from my favourite Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Epipsychidion”:

Jacob Maris, The Girl feeding her Bird in a Cage, oil on mahagony, 1867

“Poor captive bird! who, from thy narrow cage,
Pourest such music, that it might assuage
The rugged hearts of those who prisoned thee,
Were they not deaf to all sweet melody;
This song shall be thy rose: its petals pale
Are dead, indeed, my adored Nightingale!
But soft and fragrant is the faded blossom,
And it has no thorn left to wound thy bosom.”

Best Posts of 2019

7 Jan

I really hate the fact that when a post is published, it usually gets attention for a few days and then it is forgotten in the misty hazy depths of the internet. So, let me take a moment today and remind you of some of the favourite posts that I have written in 2019!

Egon Schiele’s Heroin Chic Look – Lipgloss and Cigarettes

The distinctive trashy glamour of Egon Schiele’s nudes is unsettling and alluring at the same time, provocative and eye-catching. His drawings and watercolours of skinny, fragile, starved nymphets who look like they live on lipgloss and cigarettes, made from 1910 to about 1914/15, before the war and before his marriage, encapsulate the heroin chic aesthetic decades before was defined and popularised by models such as Kate Moss. Things that connect these drawings and watercolours are the same mood and aesthetic and the same reaction from the public. Schiele’s portrayal of female form was shocking to the early twentieth century Vienna, and photographs of Kate Moss’s skinny body received the same reaction.

Book Review: Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki

Secrets, erotic obsessions, love triangles; those are some themes that linger throughout Junichiro Tanizaki’s novels such as “The Key”, “Quicksand” and my favourite “Naomi”. Things always starts so normally, the characters and their lives are seemingly perfect and uneventful, but then things take a darker turn…

Georgia O’Keeffe – Love, Flowers and Solitude: Part I

Georgia O’Keeffe is a woman I deeply admire these days. She decided she wanted to become a painter at the age of twelve, and she not only became an accomplished painter but spent nearly her entire life developing her art, constantly learning, experimenting and changing, striving to paint in a way that was completely her own, and not mimic the art that others were making around her. Hardworking and dedicated when it came to her art, O’Keeffe worked continuously every day, never waited for the perfect moment of inspiration, and rarely allowed her negative moods or emotions to rule her day or her life. She was very patient and able to gaze at something in nature, be it a flower, a cloud, a brook, then meditate over it, soak in its every last detail and then distill the essence of her experience into her artwork. This way she created abstract paintings and drawings that were inspired by what she had seen in the natural world around her, and her own visions at the same time.

Ode to Manic Street Preachers: 21 Years of Living and Nothing Means Anything To Me

Today is a very important day for me, almost like a second birthday to me. On this day, 22nd February, five years ago I discovered my favourite band: Manic Street Preachers. It was a life changing moment for me. I remember it well, and I don’t remember the moment I discovered every single band; on that grey late winter morning I first listened to their song Little Baby Nothing. I found it catchy but nothing more. The video featured only the singer, and the mystery of the band was yet to unravel. I ended up listening to it many times that morning and that same afternoon I was already listening to their first album obsessively over and over again, and then the second and the third….

Ghostly Pastel Portraits by John Corbet

These ghostly pastels by a contemporary artist John Corbet recently caught my attention. I was speechless at first and captivated by these eerie and mysterious portraits which kept haunting me until I felt compelled to write about them. Their faces seem mute and haunting, but if you look at them more closely, you will know that each has a story to tell. (…) The idea of “ghost pictures” immediately struck me and long after I had finished reading the novel it lingered on my mind. Since that moment, I have been searching for art that has the same ghostly quality and mood. I found it in the elongated melancholic faces of Modigliani’s women, George Seurat’s conté crayon shadowy figures, and now again in these pastel portraits by John Corbet. (…) The thing that connects the “ghost pictures” discussed in the book with these pastels is the deep and profound way in which both artists see and feel the world around them and their willingness to see beyond the borders of this visible, material world, and the ability to transcend it with the help of their imagination and come back with art that is woven with mystique and secrets. A ghost picture needn’t always be a portrayal of someone departed, it is more about the ghostly quality in a portrait; a face which appears ethereal and slightly eerie to our human eyes, a face which brings inside us the feeling of transience and the fragility of life, a face which fills us with an inexplicable melancholy and reminds us of the mysteries of the spiritual world, and ultimately, a face which haunts us, shakes us and stirs something inside us which we cannot rationally explain.

Picture by Laura Makabresku

Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment – Renewed by Love

Dostoevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment”, first published in 1866, is one of my all time favourite novels and I had such a blast reading it in grammar school. It’s a very long and complex novel that deals with many topics, and love isn’t even the main one but it serves to transform the characters and turn them into better individuals. The love story between the main character Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, the intelligent and poor but failed student and a later a murderer, and Sonia Marmeladova, a shy, innocent and self-scarifying eighteen year old girl driven to prostitution by poverty, is one one of my favourites in literature. I had a crush on Raskolnikov because he was as cool as a rock star; dark eyed and handsome, nihilistic and emotionally unavailable, and I had a tremendous admiration for Sonia, the most selfless creature, gentle and fragile in appearance but strong within, guided by a higher law that helps her transcend the misery of her surroundings…. “The candle-end had long been burning out in the bent candlestick, casting a dim light in this destitute room upon the murderer and the harlot strangely come together over the reading of the eternal book.“

Book Review: The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson

Some time ago I watched the film “The Rum Diary”(2011) starring Johnny Depp as the main character Paul Kemp and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was just totally captivated by Kemp’s exciting lifestyle set against the vibrant backdrop of the Caribbean. The ocean, the sunsets, the rum…. ahhh. A few weeks ago, in these warm and yellow days of July, I decided to read the novel “The Rum Diary” written by Hunter S. Thompson. In took not three full pages for me to fall in love with it. I was especially intrigued by the fact that it wasn’t a work of pure fiction. Thompson actually lived and worked as a journalist in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s. He worked for the magazine El Sportivo which folded soon after his arrival but Thompson found another job as a journalist and managed to stay on the island long enough to gather inspiration for the novel which would spend almost forty years sitting in his drawer; it wasn’t published until 1998. The novel is based on Thompson’s adventures on the island, but is part-truth and part-fiction, written in the first person and told by a journalist Paul Kemp who comes to San Juan to work for the newspapers called San Juan Daily News.

Lizzie Siddal – A Mysterious Muse

Elizabeth Siddal, a famous and doomed Pre-Raphaelite muse and a lover of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was born on 25th July 1829 in London. She died in February 1862 at the age of 32, but had she been a vampire, which I suspect she might as well be, she would have been 190 years old today, a fairly young age for a vampire. I am thinking about her these days; about her beauty, her poems and paintings, and also about the exhumation of her body led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti who wanted to get back the poems he had buried with her. An image of her coffin being opened, and her long red hair revealed by the moonlight, silence of the graveyard, the eeriness…. It is easy to imagine why this event inspired young Bram Stoker for his character Lucy in “Dracula”.

Arthur Hughes – April Love

On 19th May 1855, Edward Burne-Jones, English painter associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, took his beloved girl Georgiana “Georgie” MacDonald to the Royal Academy Exhibition and proposed marriage to her in front of the painting “April Love” by Arthur Hughes. What a romantical gesture!? I have always been fond of this painting because of its dreamy and romantic mood and the gorgeous indigo-purple dress that the girl is wearing. Purple dresses are somewhat rare in art history, and interestingly Arthur Hughes’s canvases are full of them. Sweet and wistful coppery-haired maidens in purple gowns, against a background of lush green nature. Very romantic and very Pre-Raphaelite. Hughes is famous for making paintings of lovers, influenced by a painting that he himself admired, “The Huguenot” by John Everett Millais….

The Love Witch (2016): Psychedelia Meets Victoriana

Two autumns ago I watched this delicious eye-candy film called “The Love Witch” (2016) directed by Anna Biller and I loved it! Now, in these late October’s crimson leafy witchy days I find myself thinking about that film again and now I must tell you all to watch it too because it is just “wow”! It is fun, strange, sensual, vibrant, over the top and very aesthetically pleasing to watch.

Andrea Kowch – I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

October is nearing its end. One more beautiful October leaving us slowly, leaf by leaf, sunset by sunset, until November replaces it in the calendar. November will turn the dazzling October’s glowing leaf carpets of orange and gold in parks and woods into a gloomy mass of rotting brown leaves, and even the pink sunsets will turn an ominous shade. But while the wonderful October – a time of witches, ghosts, pumpkins, ravens, haunted castles is still here, I will be so self-indulgent and take a moment to celebrate it with a few beautiful magic realism paintings by a contemporary artist Andrea Kowch.

Rainer Maria Rilke: Living is only a part … what of?

On 20 November 1900, in a letter from his future wife Clara Westhoff (he married her in March 1901), Rilke received news of the death of Clara’s friend Gretel Kottmeyer, the “poor girl who has died in the South”. Touched by Clara’s words and compassionate with her sorrow, Rilke at once started composing in his head what will be his first great Requiem, published in his poetry collection “The Book of Images”. The Requiem was dedicated to Clara and Rilke also imagined her to be the one narrating the poem, she is the voice to tell the tale. The verses I have shared here truly make me tremble, both my body and soul, and I love that Rilke views death as something greater, better than life, not something we should dread but something to look forward to as returning to our true selves. This life is an illusion, a dream, it isn’t something to be taken as seriously as we generally do.

Story Aesthetic – Nocturne, Mist, Faded Pier

4 Aug

On a distant shore, miles from land
stands the ebony totem in ebony sand
a dream in a mist of gray…
on a far distant shore…

The pebble that stood alone
and driftwood lies half buried
warm shallow waters sweep shells……
I’m trying
I’m trying to find you!
To find you…
(Syd Barrett – Opel)

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Photo by Molly Dean.

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Sea, found here.

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My Inspiration for October 2018

31 Oct

This October must have been one of the most beautiful in my life; never have the falling leaves looked so mesmerising and golden, the acorns and chestnuts so adorable, the clouds so smiling and the sky so soothingly blue! I’ve discovered a few gorgeous ethereal paintings by Henri Le Sidaner of dancing girls dressed in white, and many other paintings caught my eye this month. I’ve been inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s story Morella, poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, one elegy in particular and his early poems, film Mary Shelley (2017) with Elle Fanning as Mary, Gothic cathedrals, Depeche Mode, The Cure and Smashing Pumpkins…

It’s so exhilarating to breathe in the sweet-scented autumnal air filled with the mellifluous melody of the falling leaves, to see the ground covered in a golden rug and the melancholy of lonely forest paths, foggy morning which give birth to sunny, mellow days, to feel the calming rain purifying all the muddy thoughts that have tormented me in the desolate summer months. One must really be happy to be alive and enjoy a succession of such sweet carefree days!

“I changed this October into dream.”

(Louis Aragon from “The Unoccupied Zone“, c. 1931)

Photo by Natalia Drepina

photo by elisacasciteli, found here.

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Photo by Laura Makabresku

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My Inspiration for April 2018

30 Apr

This April was an explosion of beauty with a touch of sadness; a perfect combination. The most beautiful things that I read were James Joyce collection of poems “Chamber Music” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The House of the Seven Gables”. Amongst other things, I read Milan Kundera’s “The Joke” which I didn’t enjoy that much. My thoughts wandered to the cliffs of San Francisco (Kerouac took me to that adventure), white blossoms, warm shining Caribbean sunsets, paintings of Egon Schiele, Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, lyrical and dreamy words of Botticelli and Giorgione, Winslow Homer’s watercolours of turbulent blue seas. I had a mini Renaissance regarding the Manic Street Preachers. Pink and red and lilac. Smell of lilac trees in the air, softness of spring sunshine and flower petals flying in the air. Birds on the window. Silver dandelions so alluring in the grass. Sunsets ever so beautiful, in colours of amber, candy floss and lavender. Nature is dreaming and I with her.

“Bewildered, burning with love, mad with sadness.” (Arthur Rimbaud)

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Caribbean sunset, photo found here.

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Photo by Denny Bitte, found here.

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Two Years on The Blog

20 Oct

Today is the anniversary of my second year on this blog and I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the posts that I’ve really enjoyed writing, and which I think you’d be interested to read if you haven’t yet. I’ve chosen eleven posts which, to me, bring nothing but the fondest memories upon reading them, and also these seem to be some themes that I’m the most passionate about. Check it out and enjoy!

wir kinder vom bahnhof zoo 6David Bowie, Alienation and Avant Garde in 1970s Berlin

wir kinder vom bahnhof zoo 22Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo – ‘It’s Too Late’

1818. Wanderer above the Sea of Fog - Casper David FriedrichRomanticism – Age of Sentimentality, Melancholy, Love, Death and Fallen Heroes

1916. Jeanne Hebuterne at 19 Years, photoJeanne Hébuterne – Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice

the madcap laughs 5The Madcap Laughs

1822. Moonrise over the Sea - Caspar David FriedrichCaspar David Friedrich – A Vision of Eternity

hippie romantics 4 textBohemian Life: Romantics, Pre-Raphaelites, Hippies

1914. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Potsdamer PlatzErnst Ludwig Kirchner – The Berlin Years

pete 1Pete Doherty – Musician, Poet, Artist, Babyshamble & Libertine

1960s brian jones 6Brian Jones – A Rock ‘n’ Roll Dandy

1883. Pierre Auguste Renoir - UmbrellasRenoir – The Umbrellas

Fabulous Jewellery for February

15 Feb

‘The February-born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they an amethyst will wear.’

Birthstones were very popular during the Victorian era and each month was given a specific gem. Birthstone for February is amethyst – one of my favourite gems. I find that amethyst looks so opulent, mysterious, powerful yet elegant and fragile. I am not a ‘February child’ but to all of you who are, I wish a happy birthday and I wish that you’ll enjoy beautiful amethyst jewellery I’m going to show you here.

1800s A gold and amethyst necklace, comprising a graduated rivière of oval-cut amethysts in beaded pinched claw settings1800s A gold and amethyst necklace.

1820. Georgian Yellow Gold Amethyst Cannetille Pendant Earrings, EnglishGeorgian Yellow Gold Amethyst Cannetille Pendant Earrings, English.

1820. Gold and amethyst demi-parure1820. Gold and amethyst demi-parure.

1820s This necklace has eighteen octagonal amethysts set in silver alternated with four diamonds.1820s This necklace has eighteen octagonal amethysts set in silver alternated with four diamonds.

1825. amethyst comb1825. comb made of amethyst.

1870. Marquess of Tavistock Amethyst Tiara in the form of vine leaves1870. Marquess of Tavistock Amethyst Tiara in the form of vine leaves.

1880. Austro-Hungarian amethyst, pearl earings1880. Earrings made of amethyst and pearl, Austro-Hungaria.

1880s brooch1880s Amethyst brooch.

1880s broch1880s yet another Amethyst brooch.

1900. Amethyst Brooch1900. Amethyst Brooch

1900s Edwardian cushion-shaped amethyst and diamond stylised lozenge cluster pendant1900s Edwardian cushion-shaped amethyst and diamond stylised lozenge cluster pendant.

1905. Edwardian Bailey, Banks & Biddle Amethyst & Diamond Heart Pendant1905. Edwardian Bailey, Banks & Biddle Amethyst & Diamond Heart Pendant.

Fashion Plate Friday – 1855.

14 Feb

For this Fashion Plate Friday I choose a dress that caught my attention a few days ago. Beautiful pink tone and long elegantly decorated train have filled my imagination and I couldn’t stop thinking about this amazing dress even for a minute.

1855. evening or court dress, Le Moniteur de la Mode, Winter

This fashion plate dates from 1855. and it was published in magazine Le Moniteur de la Mode. Because of the long train I’d assume this could be a court dress as well. Anyways, this dress enchanted me on a first sight. Really, just look at this gorgeous shade of pink, white lace and long train decorated with leaves and flowers.

Pointed bodice has a wide neckline decorated with lace and little puffed sleeves are fastened into a bow. The skirt has three lace flounces; each longer than the previous and above each one is a row of matching flowers. Train is quite long (unusual for normal evening dresses of the era, but typical for court dresses) and lavishly decorated with white lace and pink flowers.

1860. Enamel Necklace1860. Enamel necklace – this is the kind of necklace a lady could have worn with this dress

Accessorize includes two matching bracelets, skin toned wrist-length gloves and a simple necklace. Hairstyle is quite lovely; hair is centrally parted, sides are puffed and decorated with white feathers and veil made of white lace.