The Weeping Chandelier

Weeping Woman - Picasso (1937)

A collaboration between two of my favourite bands and one of my favourite writers and artists.

The Kronos Quartet are passionate advocates of the sort of modern music that many people find difficult because it’s so different from classical music. I think it’s exhilarating and exciting – takes me places no other music can reach. Here they are  taking Purple Haze to places it’s never been before either.

The Tiger Lillies are a brilliantly evil, yet sometimes surprisingly tender, punk cabaret band. Like the crew member assigned to an Away mission in classic Star Trek, if you’re in their song then you’re doomed to a horrible death. Here they are in a reflective mood.

And finally to Edward Gorey, whose surreal stories and illustrations have a transportative effect similar to the bands above. The Weeping Chandelier, set to music.

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.

I Had a Black Dog

I Had a Black Dog, by Matthew Johnstone (Constable & Robinson, 2007)

The subtitle for this book is His Name Is Depression, and the title refers to Winston Churchill’s characterization of his experience of the illness.  Matthew Johnstone wrote and illustrated the book as a short, pithy, humorous (blackly so) and accessible way of conveying both the crippling effects of depression and the ways out of it.

Each illustration has a minimal amount of text, just enough to add a verbal point and no more.  A nice touch – The End is replaced by The Beginning.  Taken together, they cover the ground of most bloated self-help books on the subject.  As someone who also suffers from recurrent bouts of depression (and despises self-help books) I was immediately taken by Johnstone’s approach.

My only quibble is that in using Churchill’s metaphor, he risks losing those of us who associate dogs with love, security and comfort.  I grew up with black labradors and just seeing a dog (any dog) lolloping along on its own mysterious errands brings a smile to my face.  But perhaps that’s part of the plan.