Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rio, Black Orpheus, Samba Music And Spiritual Revelation

They Wait For This Day, 48X 28, Gouache, Print

This is one of the old gouache paintings from 1981.  You can see a lot of similarity to the underpainting in the previous post.   Watered down Rich-Art (gum arabic and pigment), rubbed vigorously to shine, and then varnished produces a lovely finish.

The content for this piece is right out of the head, based on my memory of the opening scenes of Black Orpheus, 1959, a movie I had seen a year before on my old black and white TV.  I didn't realize it was in color until 2008 when I found it on Netflix.  Had to dial out the color for old times sake.

I was haunted by this movie.  I had recorded the sound on cassette propped up next to the crummy TV speakers. So there I was in front of a piece of drywall trying to think of something to paint about, and I flipped on the tape player to see what I had in there.  And this scratchy old crazy stuff with the Latin rhythms, dialogue, and so forth was like stepping into a theater. .

The images of the boat scene where Eurydice arrives in Rio (below) flooded my mind, the paint began to fly uncontrollably, and when the smoke cleared, this painting was sitting there.  It was a truly magical experience.  The movie version I had seen was in English--including the opening song (A felicidade, by Antônio Carlos Jobim) lyrics.  One of the lines includes, "They wait for this day" (Carnaval).  I inscribed this into the wet paint along with a signature.

The thing that characterizes Black Orpheus is the constant drone of Samba rhythms in the background, along with the surreal Carnaval events, costumes, masks, dances and story line all going on at once--not to mention the deep psychological undertones throughout.  The characters are precious in the entire movie, but especially those three kids in the closing scene making the sun come up with the guitar tune.  Black Orpheus is an art feast!  It won all the awards, and is particularly significant for its magnificent sound track.  Of course as a idiot, I didn't know any of this until recently.

A year later I had a profound religious awakening after reading the entire Gospel of John in one sitting.  I looked up at this painting and realized that this was the day the characters in my painting were waiting for.  I had always thought of the two foreground characters as Mary and Joseph.  And of course there was Mary is looking right at me.  The little graphic on the stand to the left references a painting I had done a little before this one that  I called Phoenix, pictured below.  It all fits somehow if you think about it.  After all this stuff is coming out of my head.

In a very odd way this painting and this film have a had strange and significant influence on my art.  And Welcome to all my new blog friends from Brazil!  I love you all my friends

Phoenix, Gouache, 20X20, Print 

This is the opening segment including Orpheus song and the arrival scene of Eurydice into the strange world of Rio around carnaval time.  You could watch the whole thing on YT.  If you have never seen it, it's a very cool flick artistically.

Below is the closing scene.  These three are like sugar.



Anonymous said...

I've only read this through twice. I have a feeling I'll need to read it some more. Such depth and connection in your thought processes and paintings.
Very meaningful Bill. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your art. I feel I know you better with each post you do.
Your art is, as always, beautiful.

William Cook said...

Thanks PAMO--Means a lot coming from you. B

SamArtDog said...

I hardly know what to say (not that that's ever stopped me from trying anyway). To say that this post and your blog in general is thought-provoking would be a gross understatement.

Black Orpheus drove me to your list of "Highly Inspirational Stuff" which drove me to Dennis Brown's Calligraphy, over to Peter Gabriel's Big Time, then on to Lightnin Hopkins' Mr Charlie, on up to Changing A Special Light Bulb and down to Tom Waits' The Wire Theme which drove me straight to the pint of Cherry Garcia and a spoon. Whew!

William Cook said...

Hi Sam--Timely Comment. I was just adding some stuff to that list. Each thing on that list tweeks my brain in some special way. It's the stuff the goes deep and comes out art. There's something downright transcendent about each of them. For instance, that James Taylor song says more about Jesus Christ than a thousand Sunday services in words even a nit wit like me can take in. And that Shakuhachi flute is downright medicinal. And Tom Waits is severely funky, you're so right! There's so much more that I haven't thought of yet. Anyway, thanks for noticing--hope they proved inspirational to you too. B)

Jane said...

To say the least.., this is a painting with a lot of meaning, and it is really incredible that you painted it just from your memory. All very are truly a special person . The scene with the kids is adorable, touching . Big hugs.

Sonya Johnson said...

Great post, Bill. I particularly love it when artists share their thoughts on the creation or inspiration for a painting and the connection it has to their life in some way.

Your blog posts are so eloquently and thoughtfully written they could be published in their own right. I feel like I'm sitting around a master storyteller when I read them.

Keep up the fine work, sir!

John Brisson said...

Are you kidding much of this do you have just laying around? I absolutely love 'The Wait'!! So much going on, yet not so busy that one gets lost.

L.W.Roth, said...

I am intrigued. I haven't had the pleasure of seeing this movie that prompted such an impressive painting and such an eloquent post. I've just put it on my must see list. You do inspire Bill.

Celeste Bergin said...

There is magic in your painting...and I love the video..... "he made the sun rise". wonderful post!

Andrew Finnie said...

Well you were certainly blessed when you made this painting - no kidding!

"Watered down Rich-Art (gum arabic and pigment), rubbed vigorously to shine, and then varnished produces a lovely finish. "

so forgive me,

You are painting with this mixture and the rubbing down the finhed work, or coating this micture over the finished work, then rubbing down then varnishing?

thanks in advance for sharing your technique

William Cook said...

Hi Jane--Thanks. That painting has such importance in my life, I had to talk about it among my friends that could understand it. I hung in my dining room for twenty years--no-one ever said a word. These responses are the only ones I've ever heard. Again, thank you. Bill

hw (hallie) farber said...

I need to watch the movie to learn what inspired such a painting. Of course, if there's music I'll have to dance.

William Cook said...

Hi Sonya--Thanks so much! It occurs to me that this writing thing has become the art for me in a way. I am enthralled with it, and it's taking up all my time. And it is not a chore--I'm having a blast. It's still a wonder to me that this venue even exists. So for now I'll continue to "just tell my stories", the simple approach recommended when I started. I think though that some new studio works are forthcoming. As always, best regards, Bill

John--Ah yes--the bottomless pit. It's not all just laying around, it's been carefully stored all over the house. I have several rolls of canvas paintings stuffed in the rafters in the basement that I don't even remember the contents of. Then there's Pat's closet, the walls, and five flat files stuffed to the gills. I'm a legend in my own mind. OK the flat files aren't all filled with art. Half of it's illustration--originals, and morgue files of published works. Alright, two of the five cabinets are art and illustration the other three are utility cabinets--I'll post some studio pics. I do want to tear open those rolls though, find out what the hell's in them once and for all. All the best, Bill

Linda--Please see this movie if for nothing else than to tell me I was a lunatic. I'm going to be doing a bit more background work into the actual Orpheus story, and it's relation to this movie. And I think I'll watch it again too. Every artist ought to see this film. Of Course maybe I'm just partial to Latin rhythms. Bill

Hi Celeste--Is that little girl dancing not the most precious thing you've ever seen? Not to mention the little boys dancing as well? Thanks for checking in! Bill

William Cook said...

Hi Andrew, As I recall, the technique used Rich Art with water in normal layers in a kind of rapid alla prima style. Of course the stuff dries quickly like any watercolor, giving the alla prima new dimensions more closely resembling glazes, scumbles, and all manner of other craziness. Anyway when the painting is bone dry, polishing it makes the otherwise flat finish shiny translucent. The colors come alive. Since these are essentially watercolors, a layer of picture varnish protects everything so it can be shown like an oil painting rather than a watercolor (without glass). And of course this varnish punches up the color even more. I'll show some more of these in future posts. Wm

Hi Hallie--That did it-- I'm on my way! I've got to see this. Seriously, do see this film, then tell me I'm a genius for recommending it [or a complete dork]. Bill

Andrew Finnie said...

thanks William! It certainly zings for a gouache.

So you are spraying on the varnish?

William Cook said...

No, although there's no reason not to. I just find brushing a tad healthier and not a little less expensive. Most of what gets sprayed goes everywhere but where you want it.

Andrew Finnie said...

Thanks again William, I was forgetting that gum arabic was water soluable but not oil soluable!

thanks kindly for your response - again.

dont judge people by their avatar said...

can i be honest with you?
like really honest?

i dont know what watered down rich art gum arabic and pigment is.
i havent watched Black Orpheus yet.
and im afraid i will say something really stupid here, please forgive me (will you forgive me? one day?).

so maybe i will just enjoy your painting, if thats okay?
So Black Orpheus is an art feast (with Samba rhythms in the background), i see, i can feel it, in your painting, i mean.
Do you know why?
Because i see theres this man (dunno who he is) been dancing for you... since 1981.
i think it's great.
and sincere.

Hey, thank you for answering me (in your previous post).
Do you really eat poets for breakfast?
think i should start to do the same...
Thank you very much, you inspire me (for breakfast thing, i mean), although im not really into poets, poems, etc...

i dont have a babe on my blog, i only have sorrow and pain.
And a tree.
Thats why i draw.
Who needs a babe if you have some tree that gives you pain and sorrow?

Have a nice weekend!!!!!

with 2 valleys 2 mountains.