Artnotes: Monsters

 

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“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” ― Mark Twain

It’s been a wonderful and difficult week – amazing how that can happen.    Wonderful in the sense we went to Stimigliano again and hung out by the pool, amongst the flowers.  We further explored the area, visiting the miracle shrine with holy water full of large tadpoles (I can’t recall the saint, or holy man, but can picture giant frogs).  We painted the medieval town of Orte from across the river Tevere.   The highlight of our explorations was Bomarzo, the garden of monsters carved in and from local stone.

bomarzoThis isn’t our first monster visit (we went to Villa Palagonia in Sicily), and monsters seem to be popular in Italy.  I think it might have to do with the drama of monsters, and what they can do with people.  At Bomarzo there is a monster ripping a man in two; Hannibal’s elephant is killing a Roman soldier; a fantastic fish is about to swallow a turtle with a tree on his back.  There is a “crooked house” carved in stone that makes one feel completely topsy-turvy when you walk inside.   I liked the whole experience, wrenching me out of my usual mindset.  It is Mannerism at its best, thumbing its nose at Renaissance convention.

Although I can appreciate and in fact adore certain early Renaissance artwork (the Laurentian library; Brunelleschi’s dome; Piero della Francesca), I am not a fan of that period.  It is too orderly for me.  The gardens are great.  I am not anti-Italian art:  I like Greco-Roman art and architecture; medieval sculpture and objects; Byzantine gold mosaics; and the Italian Futurist movement.   There is still plenty to enjoy.

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My own art has waned, as it has been 100 degrees (38 celsius) in our yard this week.  My red paint tube dried up in the back of the car.   It was the same temperature when we outside of Rome, but drier there than in Rocca Malatina.  Our house has been warm, and Harika got a new haircut.  None of us is sleeping well.

We are preparing for our trip to America this week.  I am a nervous wreck, as usual, anticipating every horrible outcome.  I’ve been back and forth a million (nearly a hundred anyway) times, but it still shakes me up.  I can be my own monster.

I look for more information on monsters in Italy, and find that along with the monsters, are fairies.  Italy was the first place to incorporate fairies in literature.  I think they are living in the tall grass of my yard.

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