Just as i finished the new painting, titled “Tribute Coin” (Render Unto Caesar), based on a biblical parable of coexistence of mundane authorities and divine power, i by accident found out a curious serendipity: 3 days ago was the yearly ancient Roman mark day called The Idles of March, namely the day of assassination of Julius Caesar who had to be stopped on a rise for tyranny. Thus from meditation on power of mundane authority, as caesar is a generic term defining a social position, it floated into thoughts on tyranny, its origins and mechanisms.
Another serendipity that often happens, is though coming up with a topic for a painting myself, in the process of making i often accidentally come across classical works rendering the same topic, as here a small obscure and not very known painting by Titian my path through National Gallery led to, or the following Odd Nerdrum self-portrait i noticed turning yesterday the pages of Kitsch book, which i am honored to post in the context. How eternal, how still relevant.
Am also including my favorite one of three preliminary drawing sketches i made with the model while thinking about composition.
Me and Botticelli
I have been awarded the annual Sandro Botticcelli Prize this March in Florence, Italy “For the original stylistic search”. Although not as valued as figurative or Art Renewal Center prizes as it highlights works in versatile artforms and styles from all over the world, i am proud that my name will always be connected to Sandro Botticcelli.
His unknown little shrine in Chiesa Ognissanti in Florence (srtictly speaking his grave) attracts artists and just people with beautiful hearts who leave him little notes with most sacred wishes. Not being officially sanctified (nominated and verified as Saint by Catholic Church) he according to unproved rumors was one of first Grand Masters of Priory of Sion, an organisation protecting the mystery tradition mainly through art as most of it’s heads were painters, writers or composers, and definitely holds magic and charisma for generations of admirers.
I have at the same time finished a self-portrait as Magdalene which is personally dedicated to Botticcelli. I tried to if not emulate but mirror his highly graphic rather than painterly style putting focus on elaborating the hands gesture.
I did not use tempera grassa as Botticelli but as usual Maimeri Puro and Mussini oils, and tried to imitate it’s effect with softest possible transitions and multiple glazes and clearest possible bright spring palette.
Here is a quote about his technique:
“In most respects Botticelli followed the methods that had been perfected in the previous century and were described by Cennino Cennini in his Libro dell’arte of the 1390s.
Botticelli’s pigments were of the finest of his time, including malachite, verdigris (copper green), ultramarine, cinnabar, red, white and yellow lead, red lake and carbon black. Generally they were applied in thin, opaque layers known as “scumbles”, but the reds and dark greens were frequently glazed.
As the painting was built up, it gradually acquired a compact density, producing an exquisite, enameled effect composed of infinite tonal gradations that create an extraordinary luminous subtlety, especially in areas representing reflected light.”
In representation of Magdalene she often is depicted holding a cup or a casket. It is known to be the anointmnet cup as Magdalene was the one having a religious ritualistic role of anointing thus giving understanding to the term “The anointed”, which also is seen by some as a Grail or as a cup Church uses for keeping communion wafers. All three in one. Red color of the cup in classical imagery is seen repeatedly, giving freedom to interpretation.