Posts Tagged ‘Richard Wagner’

GC Myers- In Rhapsody  2021

My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.

― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

The idea of a union between music and painting has long been a theme in my work. I think my new solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria probably explores that idea more than most of my prior shows.

The painting above might be the best example of this. It is titled In Rhapsody and is 24″ by 30″ on canvas. I see all sorts of musical equivalencies or analogies in it. I see the Red Tree here as a conductor of sorts, standing in a sort of spotlight of brightness amidst an orchestra composed of the landscape and the skies and the mountains as he pushes them to a loud crescendo. Something very Beethoven-like or Wagnerian to that, probably due to the influence of Bugs Bunny cartoons in my childhood. I most likely know more about Warner Brothers’ cartoons than I do about classical music but that doesn’t dampen my appreciation for either.

Or I see whole painting as a musical score, the layers of the landscape moving back into the picture plane as movements in a musical piece, each with their own emotional content and inflection that leads to the next, with which it blends and meshes into a building harmony. It builds more and more as the layers move deeper culminating in the movement from land and water up into the red-violet of the sky. The sky here feels like the crescendo here for me.

Everything builds to the drama contained in the color and clouds of that sky.

For me, it has an ethereal, timeless quality that reminds me of a fine piece of music, one that moves people in any time in which it is played. Music and art are emotion-based and while everything in this world is forever changing and the circumstances might be completely different for generations of listeners or viewers, our emotional responses remain very much the same. We coo in love and rage in hate, we laugh in joy, we cry in despair, and so on.

Our emotions are fields of constancy and music and art work their magic in those fields. I hope this piece does that, as well. Of course, this is simply how I personally see and feel the piece and that doesn’t amount to much more than small hill of beans when you get right down to it. How this painting or any other piece of mine works it way into the future is well beyond my control. It has to prove itself.

Below, is an example of a piece of music that I think fits well with In Rhapsody. It is a section from Beethoven‘s famous 5th Symphony, one that builds to crescendo beautifully. The video is a composed of a graphical score with multiple colors and forms that is fascinating to watch as it scrolls along with the music. I thought it was also interesting how the colors of its beginning screen match so well with the painting as you can see in the image below the video.

My annual solo show, Between Here and There, opens this Friday, June 4, at the Principle Gallery at their King Street location in Alexandria, VA. Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance this year. We are hoping for some sort of event, a gallery talk, later in the year as circumstances allow. You can see the show catalog here. Thank you!

GC Myers- In Rhapsody Principle Gallery 2021 Catalog page

Read Full Post »

There are a couple of new paintings that have been added to the group of work I have hanging in my studio.  The two paintings could not be more different yet both have meaning and inspiration for me.  The first is the oil painting shown here, Pig’s Head from David Levine

The late Levine was the celebrated caricaturist whose work was a staple of  Esquire Magazine, the New York Review of Books and other publications over his illustrious career.  I wrote about him a few weeks back in a post about a caricature of Richard Wagner of his that also hangs in the studio.  He was also an easel painter and watercolorist of great renown, particularly his works depicting Coney Island and its people.  He was a really marvelous painter.  This piece was obtained from the estate of the late Thomas Buechner, who was a friend as well as a colleague of Levine, having painted with him and curated exhibitions of his work.

At first, I thought the piece was a bit macabre.  I mean,  it’s a pig’s head on butcher’s paper.   But the more I looked at this painting the more I came to see it in terms of color and form, taking in the light and shadows and the contrasts of color.  I see it as an expression of paint now and am constantly amazed by it when I turn to it from my painting table or desk.  It has real presence on the wall and is a beautiful piece of painting.  I am really proud to hang it with my work and find inspiration in it.

The other painting that graces my studio is from an artist much less accomplished at this point in her young life.  It is an interpretation of my Red Tree done by my friend Olivia from Illinois.  Olivia is a nine year old whose father recently contacted me, telling me how much he and his daughter enjoyed my work online.  I sent them a small print in appreciation and Olivia responded with the wonderful watercolor shown here.  She also sent a thank you that included a drawn self-portrait that I really like a lot.  Nice, strong lines.  Confident.  I can’t tell you how much this gesture from a young artist I may never meet means to me.  Just knowing that she has found something in my work in which she finds inspiration of some sort is gratifying enough for me.

So, there they are, two paintings done by two artists, one whose career is finished and another whose career, in whatever field she may someday choose, has yet to begin.  One is immensely accomplished whose work graces museums and great collections,  and the other just learning.  Yet both hang side-by-side,  both equally filling me with great inspiration and hope.  I can’t thank David Levine but I can send out my thanks and best wishes to my friend Olivia.

Thank you, Olivia, for your kind gift.  You made my day!  Keep up the good work…

Read Full Post »

This is a caricature of famed German composer Richard Wagner drawn by the great David Levine.  It was one of the  many,many caricatures that he created in an illustrious career for the New York Review of Books and other major magazines.  Levine was considered the king of caricature and, according to John Updike, was “one of America’s assets.”

I recently obtained this from the West End Gallery from the personal collection of  Thomas Buechner, the late painter/museum director/writer  who had painted with Levine for decades as part of the renowned Painting Group in NYC  (the subject of an HBO documentary in 2007 about the group’s 25 member’s simultaneous portrait of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who sat for them) and had written a book on Levine’s work. 

I really like this piece a lot and like the connection it has to Levine and Buechner’s relationship.  I also know that Buechner was a huge fan of Wagner’s work and had undertaken the illustration of Wagner’s Das Rheingold in 1988.  His work was translated into glass and was subsequently displayed at the Metropolitan Opera when they presented the Wagner epic.  I am excited about the prospect of having such a piece with me in the studio and hope it brings even a small bit of inspiration.

You’re probably all most familiar with Wagner through the use of his music in populkar culture such as it’s use in the film Apocalypse Now where it was the soundtrack for the calvary’s helicopter attack.  My favorite use of his music is, of course, as the inspiration for the Bugs Bunny classic, What’s Opera, Doc?   But to show the music in its natural environment, here’s Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphonic Orchestra with a little taste.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: