Before Vespers (2016) (Homage)
145 cm W x 189 cm H (57" W x 74.4" H)
About the design: Matching the bistro’s interior decorative theme; kiln-fired paint applied on the villagers’ faces and hands, footbridge and some of the buildings.
The yarns: The middle section is a stained glass version of a painting called “Villagers at the Crossroad“ by Ion Theodorescu-Sion (1882 - 1939) — a Romanian war painter in WWI and member of the neo-traditionalist and neo-Byzantine current who was later an avant-gardiste. Ion’s graphic commitment to representations of peasant life in a natural setting is beautifully captured in this scene, which resonates with my idealized memories of my homeland. The top and the bottom parts are additions to the centrepiece creating the impression that the viewer is standing inside of a house veranda where food is just being brought up for lunch by a young daughter. A bright hot polenta (“mamaliga” in Romanian) sliced by a bow knife and an empty deep dish for “borsh” (delicious Romanian sour soup), in which rests a traditionally carved wooden spoon, are seen on a table. The short three-legged chair waits for one of the female villagers, who seem to be preoccupied with politics or sharing natural remedies or textile dyeing techniques while washing and airing home made fabric, perhaps linen or woollen clothing. Some elder women sing “doinas” — melancholic folk music — passing legends, history, and life lessons onto the younger generation, who just cannot hold in their chirping laughter at times. The assiduous villagers have been working for about six hours already. It is probably before noon on a sunny day in September. The men, not seen in the image, could well be at war, but we prefer thinking that they are setting fish traps in the river, hunting in the forest, making sheep cheese up in the mountains, or even resting in haystack shadows back in the hilly landscape. The strong religious lifestyle of the traditional communities is represented by the nearest building, which is partially seen between the trees on the left-hand side, possibly the local church’s belfry. Furthermore, the spirit is emphasized by the decorative cut-outs in the shaded wooden planks of the eaves (or upper balcony) resembling the Eastern Orthodox double-cross.
Challenges: Creating very large and detailed image unobstructed by the usual saddle bars.
Execution: Copper foil technique; embedded reinforcement inserts; intricate lines separating the near from far, vegetation from the landscape; 1/2" reinforced copper framing; copper patina.
Installation: On standard rectangular aluminum mullion with angle brackets and rubber foam strips.
Light play: East-facing window that receives full sunshine all morning until midday in wintertime, displaying a very bright and colourful image; at nights, indoor dim lighting brightens it softly, as seen from the outside, combined with reflective colours from soffit lights.
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