Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Just finished reading 'one day in the life of ivan denisovich'. Just one word comes to mind after reading it:


A humbling thought that even in the face of harsh prison life in Siberia, this poor carpenter strives to maintain his dignity and pride in his work above everything else. Despite having been imprisoned for something that (obviously) wasn't his fault, just like many others, there is no bitterness, no anger, just quiet acceptance, a desire to remain honest and fleeting thoughts of being let out..that he doesn't want to entertain.

The balance between acceptance and ambition is a fine one.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Eversince I read the book 'How to think like Leonardo da Vinci', I've been smitten by the Leonardo bug. Not ever in hopes of becoming a genius of his proportions, but simply from a wonderment for the genuine scientific curiosity the man harboured and the expression of it in his drawings, paintings and writings. I must confess that I am no scholar and I haven't read a single book about Leonardo from cover to cover. One of those I have read a few chapters of is 'Leonardo: Origins of a Genius', by David Alan Brown. An interesting book but I never got to complete it.
I must first glimpse of Leonardo's genius came from a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. A kind man working for the museum brought to our attention the fact that there was a Da Vinci painting on exhibit at the gallery.

The thing about paintings is that you really don't know what you're in for until you're standing in front of one. It can slap you in the face or just stare back at you with glazed eyes. The Ginevra de` Benci didn't do either of those to me, but the attention to detail, from the lifelike skin, to the application of fine individual streaks of paint to show the glint of sunlight off of her hair...well it was enough to arouse my curiosity to see more of his work.
I've seen his paintings in both the Louvre as well as the National Art Gallery in London and for those who wish to brave Europe's museums in search of inspiration from his paintings I'd recommend the Leonardo cartoon at the National Art Gallery. It is housed in a little dimly lit room right behind the wall where his 'Virgin of the Rocks' is placed. The paper is peeling and faded and much of the drawing is incomplete, yet there is something about Mary's eyes that will captivate and draw you to her gentleness.
The 'Virgin of the Rocks' is another magnificent piece, and here pay particular attention to the eyes of the angel beside the Christ child. Surely they must have learnt from Leonardo, what angels looked like.