Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eugenio Lucas Velázquez Bilbao Spain


Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

In my last post, I wrote about seeing the etchings of Francisco de Goya in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Spain.

A small part of the wonderful exhibition was a collection of paintings inspired by Goya’s etching style and ideas. Most of those works were beyond me. [I think that is my current polite way of saying that I either do not understand it or I just do not like something.] However, one small painting blew me away! It was an oil painting on copper titled “The Communion” by Spanish painter Eugenio Lucas Velázquez (1817–1870). It was painting in 1855 and the depiction of light is phenomenal!

This is a strong composition that relies heavily on the composition “Rule of Thirds.” This rule refers to the idea of dividing the image into thirds by using a grid system (think Tic Tac Toe, but with any rectangle). The four points where these vertical and horizontal dividing lines meet are the key points of interest for the eye. The strong light figure on the left side coincides along one of these lines. The strong dark figure in the lower right also lies on a point of interest, more or less.

The overall horizontal design of this painting gives one a sense of calm. The dramatically lit standing figure gives the feeling of strength and stability (the basic emotional feelings for vertical lines). And yet, diagonals are where we get our sense of drama, or more important, movement. We are kept from being bored in Eugenio Lucas Velázquez’s painting because of the subtle diagonal of the crouching figures. Their heights vary and if one moves along the top of this gathering of sinners, one can imagine playing music or something. [I suppose this is one of those weird Synesthesia situations or perhaps only the memory of my musical training.] And if that were not enough, the artist has given us a strong diagonal of light underlying the figures and leading the viewer’s eye back into the standing priest in white.

The faces and figures are hardly detailed. The small painting has quite a lot of texture, even in some of the darker areas. It is a rich painting of a grande idea. It is simply (or not so simply) gorgeous.

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