Sunday, March 08, 2020

Artnotes: What the Painting Saw

Fish for Lunch   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/paper   17 x 25"  41 x63cm   160.00
“The Ladies’ Day Luncheon is cancelled,”  my neighbor comes over to tell me.  No one ever stops by our Stimigliano apartments, so Harika has gone werewolf.  I tell her I am sad, and please let me know if they reschedule.  “The virus, the virus,” she laments.

In fact, I considered the risk of going, but decided it would be ok.  I’d wear my knitted neck scarf that I can pull up like a mask.  And I thought white cotton gloves would look ok at the “Donna” festivities.  We are really under water here in Italy as far as the problem goes.  I haven’t been up to the Emiglia-Romagna house for a month, when I thought I would just be gone a week.  I dread opening the refrigerator, who knows when.  Things are more serious up there.  In Stimigliano, we can keep to ourselves, or just attend outdoor events.
: WORK IN PROGRESS:   Restoration   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  20 x 24"  50 x 60cm  
Yesterday, we went with Mario, our neighbor, in a separate car (that’s really not so good, but we couldn’t quite shut ourselves up together) to Casperia, a town about 10 miles from here.  At the Church of San Giovanni Battista, they are restoring the over-altar Annunciation painting from the 1600s.  The painting is set up in a side chapel where it is being worked on, in the open.  It is an unusual painting from the Baroque period, reflecting the particular style of Giovan Battista Salvi, known as Sassoferrato.  It is a very simple depiction of the Annunciation, in beautiful, straightforward colors; most Baroque works are “over the top” with decoration.
The Annunciation by Giovan Batista Salvi   undergoing restoration
The restorer is using what I refer to as a “3 hair brush” to renew a painting which must be 8 x 10 feet high.  She must have the patience of Job.   It is an inspiring activity to watch; Blair is making a painting of what we saw.  There was some expert giving a talk on the church (I wasn’t that impressed), in Italian, so I let my mind drift to what this painting had undergone.  It possibly saw the effects of plague in 1600s, known as “la Peste” of Camus fame and the inspiration for those long nosed Carnevale masks.   Surprisingly, that plague affected the same areas in Italy as the current malady, and this painting and its artist, south of Florence, were likely not affected.
Ukelele:  a Happy Tune   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  25 x 17"  63 x 41cm   160.00
I alternate between frenetic activity, some grasp at immortality and a feeling of “what’s the use?”.  The painting watched as Napoleon passed through.  It stood by the fight for Italian Unification, sat through World Wars I and II.  Now the painting and I watched as Mario shook ungloved hands with the speaker.   The cold is permeating my sweater and shoes, and Blair and I beat a path to the door.  The car is warm and I have fish to make for lunch.

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