Greetings everyone! Like last week, there isn’t a whole lot to say this week either but I write these every week because I want to, so I will write one this week as usual. I hope that is OK with you.
Last week, as you might recall, we had a visitor. It was my mother, and we spent a while hosting and playing tourist with her. Among other things, we went to the opening of an exhibit of work by Alberto Giacometti at the Vancouver Art Gallery (photos and thoughts below), and we spent a couple of days on Vancouver Island, scoping it out and seeing some of the sights in downtown Victoria.
Mom has gone home, so we are working to get back to normal. It’s a slightly extended version of “the overhead of life,” as a good friend once called it. There’s laundry to do, the dogs need their annual vet visit, and a bunch of paperwork that needs handling after our PR status was granted.
And speaking of PR, our official PR cards arrived already — much more quickly than we were lead to believe would happen. That makes overseas travel easier again (if we want to do that) and locks in our status here. The cards are good for five years, I believe, and in that time we should be able to apply for citizenship. Unless the politicians change the rules, which has been known to happen. Time will tell.
I also have a big backlog of articles to read. Perhaps some of them will be shared with you in future posts, but only if they are interesting and good enough, which is TBD.
The other big news of the week is that Tinkerbelle — the half Saint Bernard, half Great Pyrenees dog — got her latest cryptococcus titre back from the vet. It was negative. That is, the antifungal medications she’s been on appear to have removed all trace of cryptococcus from her blood stream. That’s a surprise, honestly. This fungus is nasty, and gets into places with little blood flow — like in the spinal fluid — so we honestly don’t know what the next step is. And it’s rare for dogs to survive it. The vet took a long time getting us the lab results because he’s still researching what our next step should be. Do we keep her on the antifungal drugs? If so, for how long? And do we need those particular drugs, or can we step down to some less expensive drugs for maintenance? He’s still researching answers to all of that, and says he will get more information to us soon. In the meantime, though, she’s not a walking fungal infection. That’s great news!
And I think that’s the extent of this week’s summary. Next week I hope to work on the small red cedar bowl, at least, though that also means making sure my gouges are nice and sharp. We’ll see what I can figure out and make happen.
Finally, as promised, I have some comments about Giacometti’s work. There were a couple of pieces a liked and a many that I found “meh.” The biggest surprise for me was his drawing (and to some extent his painting) style. In his drawings tends to let the background fade out, so the subject is more in focus. Here’s an example:
The linework is very loose — essentially scribbled — and yet there is something really attractive about it. And while we don’t get detail, we know the focus is on the stool in the foreground, and that it has some objects — probably fruit — on it. Everything else is hazier and less defined. Many of the drawings on display were similar to this, and I like the approach he took in them.
In the category of “meh” but famous:
These are what I think of as classic Giacometti works. Very tall, exaggerated, simplified figures. These have never really appealed to me, I am sad to say, but they are definitely what I think most people know about Giacometti. There were a few others akin to these in the show, but I am limiting what I include here just to keep things simple.
On the more successful side (in my opinion) we have things like this:
The top three images are different views of the same sculpture, a cubist style head. (Some sources call this surrealist — rather than cubist — or at least say there are surrealist influences in it. I think it’s more cubist than surrealist, and I am going with that opinion here.) And once again I have to admit that there are some pieces of cubist work that are actually successful in my mind. Many are not — to be sure — but this is one that is. It is also striking for being a sculpture. I haven’t previously encountered sculptural cubism like this, and typically think of it in paintings and drawings. In any case, while I still believe most cubist work isn’t particularly great (or interesting), it is nice to find counterexamples. This work is also reminiscent of a Cyberman from Dr Who, which I find rather funny.
The dog is interesting in an entirely different way. Some say the walking man (above) shows some emotion because of its forward lean, but I don’t particularly see that. The dog, however, positively screams loneliness, hunger, and dejection. There is something that runs counter to that interpretation, though. The shape of the nose is slightly comical. I struggle a bit with that detail, but overall I find the work successful and powerful. I wish he’d found ways to convey similar emotional content with his human figures.
There’s more to say, of course. His sculptures were first created in clay over a metal armature, then cast in bronze (usually… some appear to have been made in plaster first, or some similar material, and then cast). The mottled look of the clay surface is interesting, and helps the dog look even more worn down. I think it is obviously successful in that case, but I am less certain of it in his human figures where it feels (to me) like an affectation. And the use of huge feet in some of his human figures completely mystifies me. Still, he’s a famous sculptor and many of you will at least know some of his works. For that reason alone it’s worth learning a bit more about him.
And there you have it, my capsule review of some Giacometti works. I hope you at least find it interesting, even if you disagree with it completely.