Friday, December 6, 2013

A Greek myth

Breno Mello and Marpessa Dawn 
as Orpheus and Eurydice
11" x 14", oil on canvas board, 2013
My wife accuses me of gravitating towards the sad and subversive when it comes to works of music and visual art. Her choices are more those of a loving, romantic, and happy kind of human expression. While I obviously have to agree with her assessment, I can not explain it. I like to think that my choices are ART while hers are not, but deep in my heart I know this is not true. The questions that a comparison between our preferences raise are not easily answered, in fact it raises many more. Questions about the nature of creativity, the nature of art, the nature of love. Is a human being good or bad, peaceful or violent deep inside? And where is that place we call deep inside? Is it a construct, an illusion, or something real?
Western culture has its roots in the Classical Greek period, whose dramas and tragedies depicted the dramatic and tragic mythologies of their deities, who in turn are metaphors for what human beings essentially are. Did we inherit the tragic arts from the Greek? Is the whole concept of art Greek?
Enough of that existential questioning; I tried to paint a lovingly portrait of two Brazilian actors, the lead characters in the film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus). The soundtrack for the 1959 French/Brazilian film came courtesy of the legendary Brazilian musicians Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfá. The story of the movie, of course, based on a screenplay by Vinicius de Moraes is an adaption of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. A story of true love with a tragic ending (but with a glimmer of hope at the end of the Camus film). The Top 100 this year features a track from the album, but not one written by either Jobim or Bonfá. In stead it is recording of traditional Brazilian music that is labeled as Générique on the sleeve.

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