February 17, 2013

Foolish and Hopeless Love

Titian’s painting of Venus and Adonis was always a favorite of mine. As in many cinquecento paintings, there is a sublime relationship between the figures and the ground. The trees, water, and foliage echo the gestures of the people who inhabit it so well that they seem extensions of the body. The landscape in Venus and Adonis seems to gyrate and roll forward to accentuate Venus’ desperate and futile grasping of the departing Adonis. She is treated to this foolish and hopeless love by Adonis turning his upper body back to glance at his adoring goddess. Adonis smiles patronizingly, almost in a self-satisfied smirk, delighted in his ability to have Venus in thrall. Yet his turning back with his upper body is not as committed as his stride forward, just as the one hound that turns back does so with a vague temerity.

I made this sketch originally while standing in front of the painting. The experience of drawing this work was almost as good as listening to an opera. Fortunately, it didn’t take as long. Now that it is complete it is one more drawing for my portfolio. Maybe future viewers will see the connection between this drawing and my painting and poem for The Woman in the Chapel. I’ve included the poem and the painting below.

The Woman in the Chapel

Ghostly arms outstretched
Reach fruitlessly for Adonis
A love unrequited
Yet present still
His body striding forward
His gaze turns back
A smile of tenuous empathy
Filters across his face
He sees the woman in the chapel
A Silhouette against the fleeting light
Mirage upon the marble floor
Time propels her towards the invisible
yet the image on the stone wall remains
as does the smile on his frozen face
proud object of a goddess’ desire

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