Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ancient Painting


Two assemblages of fresco fragments from Pompeii Italy recoverd under the ashes of the volcano Mount Vesuvius. Both come from a home perched near the seashore, and date from around 30 B.C.E. The upper image shows a globe, very modern looking and just a stunning example of what ancient painters were capable of, even when decorating the walls in some obscure, commercial town like Pompeii. The other, portrays a winged figure holding a garland. Possibly its a personification of "Victory". Look closely at her face,  the vivid and unique features, her delicately shaded wings. When I first saw this exquisite fresco I thought it had to be a forgery-its not- it fell off a wall during the earthquakes that accompined the terrible volcanic eruption. From the home of Fabius Rufus.  A TV commercial is visually rich too . How do they differ then? How these ancient paintings are visually rich is another matter. These two examples of painting remain apart from the illustrative and goal driven.  Meaningful art is, I think, nuanced, and has a formal and intellectual conception and is skilfully crafted. Its those qualities that we respond to in these ancient works, what freezes us in our day-to-day tracks, quieting all the noise, listining to the inner "wow".

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