'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

NGV Pinkish Painting

In the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) in Melbourne, there is a pinkish painting - medium sized (106 cm x 137 cm / 3'6" x  4'6").
It seems to be sunset (or sunrise) in an area of spiky scrubby trees, bushes and dead branches.
Also there are a number of odd dark birds with long pointed beaks, standing around as if they are watching or waiting for something.
And there's a blue face, and a red uniform, a white face and white dress with a veil... a delicate white ankle and some bare blue toes in a little stream.

What do you think about all this?  Does it make you feel anything?  What?








8 comments:

  1. I am kind of drawn to it and repulsed by it in equal measures
    I do like those two odd birds though

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  2. Hi Katherine
    I have taken some time in studying each painting from a number of perspectives and find it very hard to understand what the author is saying or trying to say. Each painting is only two dimensional theres no third dimension effect that I could see. The subject matter for me is strange and bordering on being weird almost supernatural.

    Would like to know what the author called each painting.

    Truthfully I found them to be a little disturbing and somewhat irritating and ended with a discomfortable feeling.

    Sorry Katherine but you did ask. Can I say as a photographer I see everything in its true pictorial form and anything border on being in anyway abstractive find hard to understand and see the point of it. - Mick

    PS I suppose they are valued at mega bucks.

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  3. At first I couldn't discern the blue face and it looked like the toes were the bride's...she got cold feet? But now I see the blue face and toes are connected; a dead soldier? Or maybe he's just cold and withdrawn. The distraught bride, still in pristine white clothes even thought she had to trudge through a wet area, has shot herself in the head and fallen upon his body. The birds are quite misshapen, their legs don't bend properly and their feathers aren't "featherly." They appear to be waiting until the outcome is certain before they gather and tear into the couple. The big blue bird in the foreground actually looks like a deacon, the two in the trees might be gossipy old crows.

    Or, here is a simpler version: Brides, if you marry a cold man, you might as well shoot yourself in the head.

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  4. The birds are like carrion crows - harbingers of doom - the overall feel of the picture- where a bride embraces her dead lover for the first and last time. The whole canvas has the feel of a Wuthering Heights melodrama.

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  5. War, death, grief, lost love, lost innocence... The blue bird is what I find most interesting and ambiguous in this picture... Bluebird of Happiness/Paradise?
    lyrics
    According to Wiki the bluebird in Native American folkore has mythological significance "The Navajo identify the Mountain Bluebird as a spirit in animal form, associated with the rising sun." The red sky in the background could also have an ambiguity to it (sunrise, sunset, fire caused by war) Anyway to me it seems the painting speaks of the meaninglessness of war more than anything else.
    Crossing the river is a classic symbol of death (river Styx in Greek mythology) and the way the bride's veil is lifted makes it remind of an angel's wing.

    It's definitely not a painting I'd like to have on the wall (seeing it hanging in a private home I would find it morbid!) but in an exhibition or as illustration I find it worth pondering over for a while. (Obviously - since I just did!)

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  6. It makes me feel a little sad. The day seems to be dying and the odd humanoid being is deathly white - looking downwards. There's something about this picture that reminds me of "Ophelia" by Milais. The way the birds are spectating is disconcerting and there's a watery, insubstantial quality to the landscape - like a first world war battleground seen through mist.

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  7. That is a painting which I would never try to analyse: it would be a milllion times worse than a cryptic crossword because I suspect there is no answer and many interpretations including, possibly, one by the artist. I'm not sure I even want to know. To me it is an emotion: the emotion which it generates in me when I look at it. I could look at it for hours and if it were on my wall at home I would do just that. The colours are enthralling.

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  8. I've now gone back and looked at the other comments. Very interesting how we all look at it with different eyes and minds. As a lover of the Pre-Raphaelites I have to say that I didn't find that it reminded me of Millais' Ophelia. I cannot recall The Brotherhood using the grotesque to portray women (nor, indeed at all).

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