Sunday, November 12, 2006

Self-Portrait With Pug Dog

What a fantastic title for a pic, dontcha think? Why, I like it so much that I'm recreating this tableau as I write (my italics), with the lovely Miss Kitty standing in - grudgingly - as a fatter, more whiskery version of a pug dog. It is of course, dear reader, none other than William Hogarth (1697-1764) - you have to do that dates thing with important historical figures, I think. Who just happens to be the subject of a rather fine exhibition at the Louvre. Which I urge you to go and see. The exhilarating thing about Hogarth's work is the sheer heartiness and good cheer of it all. He's like a favourite uncle who always has a funny story to tell. Not all of the paintings are that great but they're BRIMMING OVER with life. And when you look at some of the series of engravings - I'm thinking particularly of "Industry and Idleness" and "Beer Street and Gin Lane" - there's so much humour in there, so much detail in the images. It's been a long time since I've seen people smile so much at an exhibition. Personally, I loved the portraits. The formal portrait is a medium that's always fascinated me and - and don't worry, I do know this is pretentious but it's also true - I would LOVE to sit for an artist myself someday. Weird, isn't it? I'm just really interested in the idea of someone else "interpreting" me, because it's one of those things that always differs slightly from person to person. Derr. Readers, to your brushes!! (and BTW I see myself as more of an oils man, rather than acrylics - DON'T EVEN THINK about watercolours). Anyway, Hogarth's portraits are super-accessible - none of that "the golden skull that you can barely see on top of the map on the table at the back signifies his deep-seated fear of travel and death" rubbish. You feel you know these - very English-looking - people just from their pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a very fitting follow-up to "Vodka Alley" the night before, where I found myself dancing to the Eurythmics with a very cute, very drunk political aide. Talk about the dangers of drink magic of vodka.

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