what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Remembering Europe

Drove up to the mountain house at the end of last week – the village is under half a metre of snow and was shivering in minus 13 during the night. But the place was beautiful. 
Had to check out the alarm – which had been triggered either by the powerful high winds early last week or by mice. Everything was in order and properly operational. 
A log fire had the bedroom snug and warm in no time – the heat lasting in the brick-stove for a good day. So two books (and some Bulgarian and Romanian wine) were duly consumed – the former being the spell-binding The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal; and Hilary Spurling’s gripping Matisse – the Life 
Both books evoke the worlds of the late 19th/early 20th Century – but using very different approaches.  De Waal’s book is a one of a kind – using a collection of small Japanese ivory artefacts to weave a highly personal story of an emblematic banking family in first Paris, then Vienna and, finally, Tokyo. A whole era is superbly captured in his taut prose – culminating in the destruction of family fortunes in one week with the Nazi putsch of Austria in 1938. 
I also have a (small but) lovely collection of Uzbek terra cotta artefacts which I treasure - so I can understand the fascination.

Spurling’s purpose is more biographically conventional – but the tale she tells of the courage of Matisse in facing outrage and frequent migrations in the first half of the 20th century is a vivid one. His powerful sense of colour was apparently developed as a child in the environment of the silk-weaving towns of NE France and she paints a wonderful picture of a man driven with his own sense of what was right.
This is the sort of detail I need when I meet a painter whose work speaks to me; and which I would love to develop for many of the Bulgarian and Romanian artists of the same period.
I have become an avid collector of books about such artists but the cyrillic of the Bulgarian texts totally defeats me. The Romanian texts I can make stabs at!
You can therefore imagine my delight at being presented yesterday with a large book in English - Bulgarian Art; 120 years - 1892-2012 - Unions, Societies and Groups - published in 2012 with superb reproductions.So many new names!! Although, sadly, no details are given of their lives - instead we are fed a general drip of references to internecine squabbles between the various artists's associations - with no attempt made to explain them.
There is one blog which does sterling work in sketching vignettes of the lives of interesting older artists - its called my daily art display

Early Sunday morning a significant earthquake (5.2) was experienced by people in central Romania - my partner was in her Ploiesti flat and had to seek shelter under the eaves of the hallway as the place trembled. Very frightening - particularly as everyone is fearing the next big one to hit Bucharest........ 

Back Monday in Sofia after a gap of 5 months – a beautiful run down, just 5 hours in a Kia loaned by the nice management by way of apology for the delay in my car’s arrival.

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