Art – Nativity by Luini

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“Nativity” — a fresco by Bernardino Luini (Italy, 1485-1532), made around 1520-25.

In my eyes, this Nativity representation is most special because of the serenity that emanates from it and the gentleness in the gestures of all the ones present.

Being a fresco, the colours appear to us after so many years subdued, giving the scene a most serene and warm feeling. The use of the full spectrum of colours from warm to cold hues is remarkable in that there is no clash and everything remains soothing to the eyes.

And of course, the influence of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is undeniable. Da Vinci was a contemporary and a friend of Luini, and his influence can be seen through the softness of the facial expressions and the delicate touches of light. Actually both painters used similar technics, and until recently some paintings by Luini had been attributed to Da Vinci.

This fresco was originally in a private chapel in Milan. It is now at the Louvre, Paris. The photo was taken by me and the colours are exactly as you see them.

Offering

The wrinkles at the corner of my eyes
can tell many stories.
I am old you see, very old,
older than the faded carpet I sit on.
My eyes are deep.
They contain the secrets of alchemists
and infinite horizons of dazzling colours.
Salaam
I come in peace, always in peace.
I am wrapped in the colours of the desert
and offer a cup of saffron tea
to the ones who visit me.
When it touches their lips,
it turns into wine.
I speak the universal language of the reed,
the one of a thousand smiles.
And I like to wrap each smile
very carefully in words of poetry.
I then offer them to the ones
who have embraced roses.
I know the thorns penetrated their skin,
I have my own scars.
Please accept my offering.

Kenza.


Music: Ney by Ostad Hassan Kasaie استاد حسن کسایی (Iran, 1928-2012).

Art and poetry – Li Bai

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“Li Bai chanting poetry” by Laing Kai, China XIIIth c. (Southern Song Dynasty) – via Tokyo National Museum

An ink painting on paper remarkable for its simplicity in technic made with just a few brush strokes; and in the portrayal of Li Bai (701-762), one of the great Chinese poets of the Tang Dynasty, known for his unencumbered use of words and depth of poetry.

The robe seems to blend with the background and a faint shadow suggest that Li Bai is walking during the evening. The painting has no elaborate details and yet we can feel the serenity of both the poet and the setting.

There is one poem by Li Bai that has always moved me and that with time, I have come to understand:

“The birds have vanished down the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and I,
until only the mountain remains.”