Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Dervish

Marika Papagika
12" x 12"
oil on luan, 2012
Rebetika (or rembetika) star Marika Papagika (1890-1943) is pictured against a backdrop of my back yard. I'm getting better at these back yard paintings and sometimes it's difficult to 'sacrifice' a particular good one. I do not pre-superimpose the musician, meaning that when I'm painting the backyard, I do it as if it were to be a painting that could stand on itself. Often the most interesting part, the focal moment, happens close to the center of a painting, and it is precisely these moments that are being covered up by the superimposed portrait. The background to the Marika Papagika painting once featured—for the first time—my finally mature banana plant, and it was my intention to paint Papagika's portrait transparent so the banana plant would shine through. I had even flipped the original photo I based the painting on, horizontally so that her facial features would not be right in front of the banana but her hair would. Needless to say it didn't quite work out that way. (There's only a slight trace of the banana leaves left). It's because I'm impatient; I envision the painting a certain way and I get restless, wanting it to be that certain way before I could technically accomplish it (meaning to let the paint dry before retouching it). That impatience also causes that here, on this spot on line, you will hardly ever find an image of a painting exactly the way it exists as a finished painting. Too soon I want to share it and write about it. You can bet your life that this Marika Papagika painting will be back in the studio tomorrow for some final adjustments and touch ups.
Marika Papagika? Yes, she's in this years Top 100 because I consider her song Dervisis as one of the price songs from the 2009 record set Mortika: Recordings from a Greek Underground from the cult-status like Mississippi label, a record I bought for full price, at a real record store (which doesn't happen too often). The Greek song was recorded in 1927, in New York City, and its topic is a brawl, hashish and wine, in a rather profane take on the meaning of the word "Dervish". A topic mind you, appropriate for the Mississippi label, and right up the alley of their audience (of which I'm one).

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