St. Jerome Paintings

St. Jerome was one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church. In Guercino’s time, he was regarded as one of the most important penitent saints, along with Sts. Peter, Mary Magdalen, and Francis. He was born in 345 A.D. to a well-established Christian family in Stridon, Dalmatia, and his education, as was common in Christian high society of his time, was firmly grounded in Greek and Roman literature. St. Jerome was popular long before Guercino painted him, above all because he is an ideal model of religious fervor. He chose exile in the desert in order to be purged of his sins. He took a vow of seclusion and abstinence after he had his first revelation–a dream of the sin of his interest in pagan script which occurred during his journey to the east. The saint remained in solitude in the Syrian desert for two years (in 374 and 376) where he learned Hebrew. St. Jerome’s most outstanding work was the Vulgate. He began the translation during his second stay in Rome (382-385) and completed it in Bethlehem, where he lived for the next thirty five years, until his death in 420. At the Council of Trent (1545-1563), St. Jerome’s Vulgate was declared the official scriptural text of the Catholic Church. It retained this status until 1979 when it was replaced by the New Vulgate.

The Spaniard Damasus I was elected to the papal throne in 366. He was known for his success in enhancing papal authority in both parts of the Roman Empire. Both Emperor Gratianus in the west and his co-Augustus Theodosius in the east yielded to Damasus’ demands concerning his prerogative in matters of the Church, as the historian Cesare Baronio (1538-1607) wrote in his Annales Ecclesiastici. Twelve hundred years later, Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation which proved to be one of the greatest challenges to papal authority over Christendom.

Pope Damasus was a great benefactor and friend of St. Jerome. In Rome, St. Jerome served as Damasus’ secretary, and it was the pope who encouraged the saint to translate the Holy Scriptures into Latin. During his exile in the Syrian desert, St. Jerome corresponded with Damasus and, after his benefactor’s death, the saint settled in Bethlehem. In one of his many letters to Damasus known to us today, St. Jerome described the hardships he endured in the Syrian desert:

And because for my sins I exiled myself in that desert which
bounds Syria by its adjacent border of wasteland, and because of
the vast space that intervenes 1 cannot always, seek from Your
Sanctity the sanction of the Lord, therefore I follow here your
colleagues the Egyptian confessors and myself but a little
skiff–lie hid beneath these ships of burden.

In another letter to Damasus, St. Jerome referred to Christ’s readiness to pardon even those who ask forgiveness at the last moment. He mentioned the good thief who recognized Jesus just before his death on the cross, the prodigal son who did so after his return, the lost lamb Jesus carried back to the flock, and the conversion of St. Paul–four stories of either entering or returning to the realm of Christ. By showing St. Jerome sealing one of his letters to Damasus, Guercino’s painting invokes associations with these biblical events of repentance, forgiveness, and a return to the faith–appropriate themes to the era of the Counter-Reformation. It also asserts the importance of the Vulgate for the faith as it was composed by one of the Doctors of the Church under papal suggestion and approval.

Guercino’s St. Jerome Sealing a Letter, though related to penance, is unique in that, while the saint is shown in the desert, his action has nothing to do with penance as the act was portrayed, for example, in Titian’s St. Jerome . In some respects Guercino’s painting is very similar to Titian’s. In both, the saint is shown as an old man, half-naked, wearing a humble garment, placed in the wilderness, and accompanied by a lion. The cardinal’s red hat, prominently displayed by Titian on top of a rock between the saint and the crucifix, is missing from Guercino’s painting. In Titian’s work, St. Jerome wears a gray garment and not the usual red so as not to divert attention from the cardinal’s hat. There are many oil painting reproductions of St. Jerome in the market, but it is hard to find some museum quality reproduction which pays attention to those details, it is one of the most complicated paintings among all our artworks for sale, said by Arthur, the art director of Outpost Art.Titian_-_St_Jerome_-_WGA22839


Ninth Havana Biennial Havana, Cuba

The ninth Havana Biennial is made up of a dynamic yet chaotic mix of official and unofficial events. In a dense landscape where the histories of colonialism and modernism coexist in an uneasy decay, the biennial’s official theme of Urban Dynamics holds promise. However, the central site of the biennial, located outside the city at the historic La Cabana fortress on the island’s shore, throws the strength of the theme into question. Dominant here is a type of urban landscape photography that glosses over differences to portray the idea of a “global city” In contrast, the more interesting projects subvert such literal interpretations and instead investigate notions of community as a complex and often confrontational aspect of urban experience. At a time when Canada is descending into its own War on Terror, investigating al Qaeda-inspired bomb plots, the ninth Havana Biennial exposes community as a fragile and temporary construct.

Cinthia Marcelle makes the confrontations innate to community manifest in the video Unus Mundus-Confrantacion (2005). A wide overhead shot reveals a scene on an anonymous city street. With traffic stopped at the lights of an intersection, two young people juggling fire appear from outside the frame. They walk in front of the waiting cars, delivering a performance that ends when the lights change. However, as the video unfolds and traffic stops again, the two jugglers become four, the four become six; finally, eight jugglers occupy the street, holding their position even after the light turns green, effectively blocking the flow of cars. As Marcelle’s video ends, the viewer is left with a growing swell of car horns protesting the jugglers, and a new, fluid border is drawn across city space.

Better Lives (2003), by Sue Williamson, presents the experiences of pan-African refugees living in Cape Town and at the same time it investigates the tension between still and moving images. Williamson assembles five different sets of refugees to pose for traditional studio portraits, then exhibits the photographs as large-format prints. Mirroring the photographs, five separate monitors present videos of the refugees in the same studio setting. Here, Williamson’s subjects hold similar portrait poses as they listen to audio recordings of themselves telling their tales of exile, which had been taped earlier. Allowing viewer and subject to encounter the recordings simultaneously releases the refugee experience from the realm of the fixed photograph so it may be explored as a continuously unfolding struggle, the concrete consequences of which remain broader than the borders that frame them.

Entering Cuba as a North American I am aware that this biennial continues to happen in the shadow of the Helms-Burton Act and Cuba’s geopolitical isolation from the North and yet flourishes along with the rise of the New Left in Latin America. Ironically, the transitory international art community that congregates briefly in the city provides the best example of a contested meaning: the conflict between the city and everyone’s occasion for being there. I immediately think of this community, of which I am a member, when I encounter the untitled installation by Shilpa Gupta. At the entrance to La Cabana, yellow tape of the type used by police at crime scenes covers the handrails of a small bridge over a moat. On the tape, black text features a repeating phrase in both English and Spanish: “THERE IS NO BORDER HERE,” Bringing artists to the city to exhibit alongside visiting artists, critics and curators from around the world, the biennial does indeed transcend traditional borders of geography, if only momentarily. But at the Havana Biennial there are, of course, borders everywhere: between the context of the viewer and that of the artist, between the biennial’s mandate to exhibit contemporary art from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the primarily Euro-American provenance of many foreign visitors, between the international audience and the boundaries of language, nation and region. Gupta’s installation neatly expresses this double meaning, drawing a boundary with perimeter tape to expose the role of the international biennial in the new globalist fiction of a borderless world.

Fall, River, Snow: Water Drape

Fall, River, Snow: Water Drape, Ice Steam, Deer Portrait (2006), an ambitious new film work by UK artist Liz Rideal, was projected outdoors in the expansive grounds of Compton Verney, an estate designed by the eminent 18th-century British landscape architect Capability Brown. This work signals a new direction for the artist, whose diverse practice includes photography, drawing and print-based media. Reflecting on her practice in relation to film, she brings her work’s static, often sequential, repeated and narrative images into a new medium.

Rideal’s film, its two-part title describing a three-part work, is 10 minutes and 40 seconds in length, and was shot in three locations in Ontario: Niagara Falls, Big Cedar and Burleigh Falls. Produced in January 2006 using Super 8 film, the work’s three sections are linked by the setting of a winter landscape.

Rideal’s infatuation with water, cascades and drapery is clearly visible in the first section of the film. The secondary title for this part, Water Drape, emphasises her intentions as she focuses on the visceral properties of falling water. The illusory stasis of Niagara Falls’ high volume of falling water provokes associations with the ephemeral qualities of projected light, and this ultimately is the only certainty implied by the image Rideal creates.

Land art offers an important context for this film. Its theoretical base was developed in the late 60s and early 70s around the work of artists such as Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Long and Michael Heizer. James Turrell famously has created a body of work that focuses on the effects of light and space on perception, and although Rideal’s work functions in a different manner, her practice of using film to project light into and onto landscape offers an interesting update on this tradition.

Rideal’s film moves across a terrain of the Canadian winter. Water as liquid, vapour and solid is present in the three landscapes shown, in part proposing that each one is a repetition of the others, in part providing conjunction and in part proportioning difference.

The artist used trees on the estate as a screen for the film’s projection; the frenetic flowing water in the first section of the film created movement and shadows that cut across the trees, inducing a sense of swirling wind as much as cascading water. The trees lined one end of the lake, dipping away from the main house. Aligned from the base of the trees, on the waterline of the lake, the projection was almost the full height of the trees and was fully visible from across the width of the lake. This alignment enabled the image’s reflection to be visible at full length in the water below, an intelligent restructuring that cast the film’s bottom edge as its midpoint.

The film moved through two other phases, its middle portion a passage of colour determinable only as an aqua-blue stain or spill against the otherwise sharp black silhouettes created by the flowing water from Burleigh Falls, which provided the most defined series of shapes within the work. The final section, shot in the woodland that surrounds Big Cedar, introduced discernable points of narrative–trees and occasional deer provided a sense of story and a registration of scale.

The abstract detailing and physical fragility of Rideal’s work was doubled by the temporary site. The lack of density of the foliage of the trees, due to high winds, resulted in a loss of definition in the film’s image; conversely, the sharpness of the film intensified as the evening’s darkness gathered pace.

The notion of landscape projected onto landscape provokes interesting questions about simulation and displacement. Transposing fragmented and idealized Canadian environs onto the manicured and meticulous gardens created by the most thorough of British landscape architects suggests evocative historical links between the two countries and questions discrepancies of landscape across continents.

Rideal’s regular body of work raises issues of transparency and translucency–light passes through fabric or is caught between folds in material. Here it is the projected light that becomes the surface, acting as the point of contact, a temporal facade that renders trees and water as surface, shape and colour. Projecting this film outdoors and onto a model of English landscape aesthetics is audacious, but ultimately it is an audaciousness that befits the content of the work and allows for an engaging personal experience of the landscape, standing in the failing light of dusk in the cold of winter.

Triangle Metalsmiths Group

We have decided to start a metalsmiths group. I used to go to Metals Club at Ornamentea and met some amazing friends there. I learned alot and miss it terribly. So starting in June we will have meetings here at ANVIL. We will meet the second Thursday of every month at 6:00pm. We’ll all be taking turns sharing a technique with the group. (This is not a class. There will not be finished projects.) This is a great opportunity to trouble shoot problems and meet others that share our passion for all things metal. All levels welcome. Our first meeting will be Thursday June 14th at 6pm. Please bring your own tools. We will post soon what technique we will be demonstrating.