Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More Art in Melbourne

Feb. 6, 2013

We've had a relaxing couple of days interspersed with taking care of the medical issues - we've enjoyed reading in the sun, hanging out at caf├ęs, people watching, and just being in an urban setting.  Well, we're in an artsy and trendy neighborhood, but Melbourne is a huge spread-out city of some 4 million people (all of Australia is about 22 million people) - and it's been a while since we were in a place this big.  Kind of nice, especially since there are also parks, the beach, and other outdoorsy places mixed in with the city-ness of it all.

Today dawned warm and sunny, like summer (finally).  We took the tram in to the city itself - the tram is basically a cable car or trolley (think San Francisco or New Orleans) - these trams criss-cross Melbourne and all the surrounding neighborhoods.  We went in to the city and walked up to the NGV, the National Gallery Victoria, a lovely modern building with one of those water-on-glass fountains that creates the front wall of the place. 

I went to the "Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists" exhibit - and the photos here are some examples of what was included in the show.  (No, I did not take photos in the exhibit, that is generally prohibited due to both copyright/ownership laws as well as the fact that camera flashes are distracting and not good for the paintings nor the viewers - the photos are all from the internet.)  But it was a wonderful exhibit. 

The Neo-Impressionists are basically the late Impressionists who experimented with pointilism - or, in the words of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, divisionism - they experimented with dividing color of objects into the "pure" colors, and painted dots in either color ranges or complimentary colors in order to achieve a unified color from a distance that shimmers and dances and looks alive.  Kind of trying to combine new scientific information (color theory) with art.  (They also were anarchists and Communists, and were trying to promote a new world order, but that's another story.)     

Anyway, the art was wonderful - Seurat died young, but he and Signac really were the originators of this style of art, and influenced our friend Camille Pissarro (born on St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, now the US Virgin Islands) who is considered by many to be the father of French Impressionism - his pointilist paintings included in the exhibit really outshone Seurat and Signac, I'm sorry to say, he truly was a master painter and his style goes beyond theirs to show how amazing an artist he was.  Just another note - this gallery labelled Pissarro Danish/French, combining his origins in the Danish West Indies with the fact that he achieved fame for his artwork in France - French museums label him Danish, and American museums label him French.  I don't know what Danish museums do regarding his country of origin.   

Signac also experimented with making larger and larger dots until his colors actually became short brushstroked dashes of color, creating a very mosaic-like feel to his paintings.  His colors also became less and less blended and more unrealistic, becoming more like Expressionist art - violet pavement, turquoise seas, red buildings.  Interesting to see the development of his work.
There were also lesser known Neo-Impressionists like Maximilian Luce, Thao Van Rysselberghe (who I had never heard of, and who is wonderful!!!), and Henri-Edmond Cross, to name a few.

And then, as I was finishing wandering through the two rooms, a group of school girls came in (all in the horribly ugly school uniforms schoolgirls are forced to wear in this country - dumpy striped or plaid housedresses that manage to make pre-pubescent girls look matronly) - the schools only started last week, and already this class of 8th graders had an art field trip.  I thought it was wonderful, and I chatted briefly with a group of girls - they had worksheets, and had to select a painting, write the title and artist, then analyze the painting in terms of the foundations of art (line, balance, tone, composition, etc.) and then give a personal opinion (critique) of the artwork.  What can I say, I loved it, it was the kind of thing I'd do with my advanced art class.  (Whose uniforms aren't quite as ugly.)

Richard joined me and we took the circle tram, a free tram that goes in a loop through the central business district with a recording explaining all the touristy highlights - people hopped on and off, but we went through the entire circle, just to become oriented with the central downtown region of Melbourne.

Okay, so, the wee lump is potentially problematic, and had best come out - the doctor I saw has run some tests, we're awaiting results, and then we'll see what comes next.  Most probably I'll get to experience the Australian medical system from the inside, though as a day patient (read: outpatient) - and since my doctor is a woman, she makes sure the battle scars are minimal.  I'll keep my friends and family updated with this as things progress.  And we'll keep having fun until we have a diagnosis, and go on from there. 

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