A Midsummer Night’s Melancholy

A Summmer Night's Melancholy  Michael Sowa

A cat and dog in one painting, two tribes satisfied(?) in one post. This is either efficiency or laziness, or just because I got behind in my daily posts and now I’m infilling (and backdating) as best I can.

Michael Sowa is the latest Surrealist to grab my attention. I like the way his bland titles play with language, suggesting you’ll get exactly what’s on the tin, and of course you don’t. Though the title is always “factual” in some sense. The paintings are witty, whimsical and satirical, as you can see from his gallery at WikiPaintings.

This painting features a bare, empty room, which captures the mood of a summer night when nothing seems to be happening, yet we’re filled with an inarticulate yearning for something. Sowa’s dog and cat perfectly counterpoint this unfocused longing with the alert gaze of the dog and relaxed posture of the cat.

Here are some of his illustrations for Donna Leon’s book,
Handel’s Bestiary: In Search of Animals in Handel’s Operas.

The Banquet of Cleopatra (1653)

The Banquet of Cleopatra - Jacob Jordaens

A satire by Flemish painter, Jacob Jordaens. The dog in front is clearly begging for scraps. But so are the humans pressed round Cleopatra – they want sexual, political, professional, and business favours rather than food, and their need is just as great. Jordaens implies no distinction between their cravings.

The unlikely top dog among these competing supplicants is asleep on Cleo’s lap.

Sunday Dog: Dog

Dog - Niko Pirosmani

The essential dog, as painted by Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918), a Georgian primitivist painter. This brooding beast is a force of nature, towering above the castle on a cliff to his right. Pirosmani suggests the dog with only a few details, most explicitly the white of its chest and paws. A self-taught painter, he’s created something unique and powerful in this picture.