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Posts tagged ‘Venice’

Venice 201618

The Daily Norm is kicking off 2019 (better late than never!) with something of a carnival-coloured bang, by launching a Venetian season to knock back the winter blues, and add something of the decadence and Casanova spirit of La Serenissima into this bleak mid-winter. And I start that season as I mean to go on: with a work of art, as I introduce my newest painting: “Venice 201618”. The title of the work references the fact that this painting has something of a lengthy history which pans an interesting period in my art.

I started the work shortly after returning from Venice at the very beginning of 2016. But just as I started the work, my attention was diverted by the very significant pull of Kandinsky and Las Meninas, and my period of interpretative abstracts began. Since the new Venice work no longer fitted into that line of simplified, more abstract works, I deserted the canvas and set it to one side.

Unable to dispose of this unfinished work, I brought the canvas back with me to England when we returned from Mallorca, in case the day should come when I would return to the more figurative style of painting which had dominated my pre-2016 work. That moment came late on in 2018 when, excited by the prospect of a 2019 trip to Venice, I brought out the unfinished canvas and continued with the work. It was a deeply cathartic exercise as I took this work to new levels beyond which the 2016 planning had gone, adding, for example, energetic new ripples to the centre of the work, designed to resemble the marble reflections bouncing off Venetian canals, as well as the marbled ink paper which is a typical product of the city.

Venice FINAL

Venice 201618 (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

For me, the finished work encapsulates touches of the many aspects of the Venice I love – the gondolier waiting patiently for some passengers, his glittering gondola moored nearby;  the predominance of the turquoise green of the canals, contrasting with the pinky red of the buildings; the masks of the carnevale flittering nearby like dancers whisked around the dance floor of a masquerade ball; and the steadily crumbling facades and algae-covered steps which characterise the city.

I’m delighted I was able to resurrect this work, and present it today as my true homage to a unique city.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the art of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com

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Interpretation No. 19: Venice, the Dorsoduro from above

It’s hard to believe that my series of landscape interpretations are now entering their third year. Started back in Positano on the Amalfi Coast when I was inspired by the cubic contrast of urban development against rugged natural scenery, the collection has morphed and developed, now reaching its 19th in number. While traditional landscape painting seems to be too often looked down on by the so called “experts” in today’s contemporary art world, these simplified landscapes allow me the opportunity to relive a landscape, to simplify it into the basic forms which make the view so beautiful, and most importantly to relax and enjoy the process of creation.

As my little Venice seasons comes to an end here on The Daily Norm, and we travel together, to cities further afield, there could have been no more appropriate final curtain to the collection than to share this, my latest in the interpretations series. Inspired by the stunning views over the city which I photographed from the top of St Mark’s campanile and shared on The Daily Norm last week, this view for me was compositionally just too tempting not to paint.

Interpretation No. 19: Venice, the Dorsoduro from above (2016 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Interpretation No. 19: Venice, the Dorsoduro from above (2016 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

With its waves of terracotta rooftops covering Venetian red, cream and ochre buildings, all leading to the magnificence of the church of Santa Maria della Salute at its centre,  and with its intersection of creamy turquoise canals and a view of the Giudecca island in the foggy distance, this is a view of the Dorsoduro region at its best. And it makes for a fine addition to the urban wing (Paris, London & Palma and counting…) of my continuing collection gouache landscapes.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Photos from Venezia: Capturing a city

I defy even the most inexperienced of photographers not to start snapping away, be it on a traditional camera or on a mobile telephone, when they go to Venice. It is, I would venture to guess, almost scientifically impossible for a visitor to the city not to become captivated by the beauty which exists at every corner, to fall under the spell of its utterly unique character, and to therefore attempt to capture themselves a little piece of the city, be it through photos or souvenirs (or usually both).

Regular readers of The Daily Norm have probably already noticed that I took a fair number of photos on my recent trip to Venice, even though it meant defying the cold and taking off my new comfy rabbit-lined gloves (bought on the Rialto Bridge) in order to do so. But despite the so often gloomy winter weather, it will come as no surprise that Venice inspired an entire flurry of photos, and I have plenty still to share in addition to those already posted.

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And so in this last post looking back over my recent Venetian adventure, I am including a miscellany of photos which do, I think, effectively capture something of the essence of the place. Through the textures of the city – from crumbling walls to luxurious golden silk, and through the colours – ocres, yellows, the turquoise green water and of course the characteristic Venetian red; through its historical palaces, and even a shop filled with old waterlogged books…This is a selection of photos which is innately Venetian, transporting me back to that foggy, watery wonderland where a part of my heart remains firmly captured by the city in turn.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Memoirs from Venezia, Part 3: St Mark’s from above, and within

As much as I have always opined that you can only find the real authentic Venice the further you travel out of the tourist centre, there is no doubt that the Piazza San Marco remains the heart and soul of the city, even though it also coincides as the epicentre of the tourist trade. And just as three previous visits had never seen me travelling on one of the city’s famous gondolas, I had likewise never visited one of the most important buildings in the city, the Doge’s Palace. There can be no justification for this shortfall, since the palace was, and remains at the historical core of what was one of the world’s greatest republics. And on this trip I was determined to put things to rights.

Walking through the main stone archway leading into the palace courtyard, passing one of the miscellany of ancient relics looted from all over the Eastern world, there could be no mistaking the grandeur of what had once been the centre of Venice’s administrative, political and legal core. But beyond the exquisite marble facades, the windows characterised by the iconic “Venetian Gothic” style and the impressive statues peppering every wall and corner of the exterior, the real grandeur was reserved for the inside. For up a heavily gilded staircase and into the pomp of the ceremonial rooms upstairs, our eyes sprung open in astonished amazement at the extent of opulence on display.

The Doge’s Palace outside

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There, paintings by the very historical best of Venice’s artists were practically beaten into submission by the heavily baroque gilded mouldings which surrounded them. However it was the combination of both gilding and paintings on every surface of the walls and ceilings which created the real drama, and we were only saddened (and rather surprised) by the extent to which the condition of all surfaces had, like the city surrounding the palace, been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.

The splendour of the gilded interiors

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One might wonder how the world outside this glittering palace could follow this magnificent display of splendour, but of course Venice always has a new treasure in store, and as we left the Doge’s Palazzo and saw a small queue forming across the square at the famous Bell Tower of San Mark’s, we had just discovered our next treasure… for from the top of the tower, mercifully reached by lift, you can enjoy the most astonishing views of Venice sprawling out beneath you.

I loved the fact that from the top of the campanile, you could get a flavour of the true personality of this fascinating island… the extent to which the city is packed into a tiny space surrounded by a misty, boggy lagoon; the consistency of the sprawling wave of terracotta rooftops; and the incredible beauty of the many churches and palaces springing up all over the skyline.

Venice from above the campanile of St. Mark’s

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A day full of such beauty could only be concluded by a visit to the other of the Piazza San Marco’s famous gems; Florian’s café, where we rightfully treated ourselves to a tray loaded with tea, macarons and cakes fit for the festive season. And with that marvellous afternoon tea, taste joined the others of our senses which had been utterly enchanted by a further day in Venice.

A well earned visit to Florian’s and the Piazza of San Marco at night

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Memoirs from Venezia, Part 2: Sestiere di Castello

Venice is not just any city for me. It was present at the inception of my teenage renaissance, when at the age of 18 I travelled to Italy with 20 likeminded young people to study art history. Venice was the first stop, and it was in that city that I felt myself transform, like a butterfly whose wings burst forth upon a mega-wave of sights, images and inspirations. So whenever I return to the city, there is always a part of me which yearns to revisit all of the sites which gave birth to that transformative experience. But at the same time I always want to see something new, and despite its compact size, the intricate labyrinth of the city always provides a new surprise around every corner.

On this trip, I was determined to discover some of the areas which I do not know so well, and there to expose myself to some of the lesser-known gems of the city. One such area is the Sestiere di Castello, which, tucked just behind San Marco, sprawls eastwards from the Rialto across to the Arsenale and beyond.

Gems of the Sestiere di Castello

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It is easy to tire of the repetitiveness of central Venice, with every shopfront loaded with mass-produced masks and tacky souvenirs, but walk just a few canals beyond the centre, and a more quaint, authentic city is ripe for the discovery. Such is the case with the Castello, from the grand Campo Santa Maria Formosa with its curving church, to the impressive square in front of the Zanipolo church, the size and scale of which makes it a clear rival to St. Mark’s itself. All this we explored as we traversed the area on foot, gawping at the stunning stone mausoleums of the doges set within the walls of the Zanipolo, as well as being mesmerised by the haunting chants of a Greek Orthodox service on the Rio del Greci in a beautiful little church which has its very own leaning tower.

The Zanipolo and the Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci

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But for me, the real star of the region is the Arsenale, this massive former industrial site which would have been the heart not only of the Venetian Republic’s economy, but also of its military prowess. Although sadly unused today, from the mammoth encircling walls, and the huge classical gates at its entrance, once can still feel the might and power of the place. For Arsenale was not only large, taking up some 1/15th of Venice’s entire landmass and giving employment to a huge proportion of the city’s population, but it was also a place of innovation, being the first to mass-manufacture boats with the kind of conveyor-belt style product output which can only be dreamed of by car factories of today.

The Arsenale

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But beyond the hard lines of the Arsenale, a stunning city of view is always just around the corner, and as our day came to an end, we were treated to a glimpse of sunshine (in an otherwise foggy visit) over the lagoon, where Palladio’s masterpiece, San Giorgio Maggiore glistened in the light, and along the lagoon, the warm cosy interior of Harry’s Bar lay in wait. Most expensive amaretto known to man? It was surely so, but an apt treat at the end of an impressive day exploring the real Venice.

The lagoon and a rest in Harry’s Bar

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  

My travel sketchbook: Canal View, Venice

It seems like a longtime has passed since the halcyon days of summer were upon us, and indeed it was. For the entire season of autumn has passed since then, and the leaves of the summer’s luscious green branches have all but fallen. And yet that was the last time I opened my travel sketchbook, at least until Venice came.

For Venice is a renowned artist’s paradise, a utopia whose every turn and corner provides a sensational new detail to inspire a creator’s hand. My trip this Christmas past was sadly short (but sweet), and neither the duration nor the temperatures allowed for me to spend much time sitting in one of the city’s many stunning squares or canal sides sketching all of the beauty which was before me. But there was time enough to capture this view, especially since it was the vista we were lucky enough to enjoy from our hotel bedroom. And thus while we rested from the day’s adventures, I sketched. And this is the result.

Venice Sketch

Canal view, Venice (2015 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

Memoirs from Venezia, Part 1: Christmas on a Gondola

As most of us look, somewhat gloomily, towards a mediocre post-Christmas period with our homes becoming sparser as decorations are packed away and everything returns to normal, I am sustained by a head full of daydreams, as I recall the time I spent this Christmas in Venice.

I am no stranger to this utterly unique, magical floating city, but no matter how many times I go, I am equally if not increasingly held captive by its enchanting spell. For where else on earth can you find palaces whose golden doorsteps are laced with a layer of green algae; whose magical buildings appear and disappear within veils of mist as mysterious as the masked characters who walk the city’s streets; and where you can spend Christmas day on a gondola.

The jewel of the Adriatic, as photographed on Christmas morning

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For with my partner’s mother making our Christmas a family affair, this festive season was going to be special for all sorts of reasons. And first on the to-do list of the day was to toast Christmas and the city from the luxurious comfort of a gondola. Despite its being my fourth visit to the city, I had never before been in one of these iconic vessels, fearing the grossly inflated prices and tourist traps. But when you discover that it is as expensive to remain on land in Venice as it is to embark upon the water, this cheeky half an hour on board one of the world’s most famous boats can be easily justified.

On a gondola for Christmas!

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And so as families all over the world toasted the day over a roast turkey, we started ours floating gently over the milky green canals of Venice, gazing in wonder as we passed cracking palaces, rosy-pink street lamps and some of the most beautiful churches ever built. The day continued with indulgent feasting in the Taverna la Fenice, a stroll across the Accademia Bridge to the gentle Dorsoduro district, the purchase of far too many handmade glass santas from the island of Murano, and later prosecco bubbles with homemade Tuscan panettone munched in-between the exchange of presents aplenty.

Magical details, from the water and back on land

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It was, in every way, the perfect Christmas day, and the memory I hold with me now as I reticently prepare to leave Christmas behind for another year.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  

Venice without the water: Plaça de Sant Jeroni, Palma

I can’t quite hide the fact that apart from being deliriously happy surrounded by the Christmas spirit of my new home in Palma de Mallorca, there is still a little piece of me that yearns for Venice at Christmas. It’s always been this way, ever since my blissful gap year spent in Italy, when an extended stay in Venice introduced me to the city enveloped in an enchanting wintery mist which made the glowing shops selling golden masks and glass Christmas trees all the more inviting. Every Christmas since I have yearned for Venice: my Christmas trees are invariably peppered with sparkling Venetian masks, my Murano glass trees are in pride of place amongst my decorations, and in fact this time last year I was in the pearl of the Adriatic herself.

So it was perhaps in part because of this yearning, but also because of its inherent characteristics that when I stumbled into the Plaça de Sant Jeroni, a tranquil little square deep in the old town of Palma the other day, I could have sworn I had stumbled into Venice. And having now declared the square my favourite in all the city, I just had to share it with you.

The Plaça de Sant Jeroni

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For me there are many features that make this square Venetian. For one thing, its taller than average narrow buildings, which remind me of the palaces fighting for prowess along the Grand Canal or the tall blocks of the Venetian Ghetto, squeezing gradually upwards for space where there was none at ground level. Second it’s the colours: pinks, yellows and terracottas, these are almost certainly the colours which reflect so majestically in the canals of the city. Third the fountain at its centre – glamorous enough to be a city superstar, but appearing almost forgotten in this nostalgic backwater far from the tourist trail. Fourth the two churches, both incredibly ornate – for where else do you find churches in such neighbourly proximity than in Venice? Fifth the general sense of dilapidation – the cracks and flaking paint; the tired romanticism which have attracted so many artists to Venice since its historical decline began. 

The details I love

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But where are the canals I hear you ask? Well true, they are missing, but like so many of the hidden gems in Venice, this is like one of the rare squares tucked away between buildings where the canals do not pass. I love them there as I love this square here. 

I know nothing else about this square. Only its name. But for me it will always be characterised by its Venetian tones. And for that reason, it’s a comfort to know that this pretty piazza is but a stroll away, for a moment or a visit whenever I yearn for Venice. 

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Paolo Veronese – The Martydom of Saint George

London’s National Gallery is celebrating one of the gems of Italy’s and more specifically Venice’s Renaissance age: Paolo Veronese (1528-1588). In its new exhibition, Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, the National can’t help but put on a show. In celebrating the work of this artist, whose paintings epitomise the magnificence and theatricality of Renaissance Venice with huge historical and religious canvases, bold colours and a wonderful aptitude for painting figures, classical buildings and sensational drapery, the National Gallery brings us one big hit of a painting after another. It’s almost a problem for the exhibition, which has collected together so many brilliant, vast masterpieces, that the visitor is bamboozled, unable to concentrate on any one painting in particular.

So being the great public service blogger that I am, I decided to solve this problem with a neat solution – to focus on just one of the utterly brilliant paintings on display, and the one which took my breath away over and above all the rest.

Paolo Veronese (c.1565), The Martyrdom of Saint George - on loan from the city of Verona (image source: wikipedia commons)

Paolo Veronese (c.1565), The Martyrdom of Saint George – on loan from the city of Verona (image source: wikipedia commons)

Painted in 1565, The Martyrdom of Saint George was created at the apex of Veronese’s illustrious career. Measuring some 4.2 metres in height, this vast canvas offers us all of the glorious elements that make Veronese’s paintings sing like a grandiose opera almost half a century after they were painted. Depicting the moment when Saint George, a Roman soldier, accepted his martyrdom after refusing to worship pagan idols, this moment of dramatic realisation is captured with skilfully applied light (just look how our eyes are drawn to that perfectly lit torso and the outstretched arms of the martyr), and a brilliant composition, with clouds tumbling upwards into paradise, where the Virgin and Christ child appear with Saints Peter and Paul along with the allegorical figures of virtue: Faith, Hope and Charity.

The balance of the painting is brilliant, with the cerulean blue sky echoed in the drapery beneath Saint George, in the clothing of the turbaned man on the left, and up in the celestial clouds at the top, while the figures are variously placed at different heights, intensifying the feeling of drama and the sense of audience participation in this dramatic moment of religious history.

Of course this painting is but one in an amazing collective celebrating the genius of the often overlooked Venetian master. And at the risk of being quite overcome by it all, you may as well go along and revel in the glory.

Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice is on at the National Gallery, London until 15 June 2014.

Ripples 2: Venice (Rio della Guerra)

With my solo exhibition fast approaching, I am going full steam ahead in an attempt to get my collection ready for its big unveiling this May. Not only am I working concurrently on three oil and acrylic canvases, but I also have several gouache works, a new woodcut edition, and old woodcut edition, a new etching and several Norm sketches on the go. It’s a daunting task trying to get all of those works completed in less than 3 months (with the fact that I work full time as a lawyer also being something of an issue…), but I am happy to say that the factory process is in full flow, churning out the works at a steady and pleasing pace (factory = me). As if by way of demonstration, this week I will be sharing not one, but two new paintings with you – one which sees the completion of an ambitious canvas which I started way back last summer, and the second, today’s, which I begun only a few weeks ago.

Yes, hot on the heels of my Natale Italiano posts, and my obsession with the abstract forms created by rippled water, as subsequently demonstrated in my posts on ripples photographs, paintings, my recent woodcut, and in the first of my new gouache ripples collection, I now present the second gouache painting of the series: Ripples 2: Venice (Rio della Guerra).

Ripples 2: Venice (Rio della Guerra) 2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper

Ripples 2: Venice (Rio della Guerra) 2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper

As with the first piece, this painting focuses on the rippled reflection, rather than showing both the reflection and the scenery it reflects. Focusing on the ripples rather than on the real world above them means that the viewer is left with the more abstract image which nature creates, causing one to question what is actually being shown in the image when seen at a first glance. Is it just an unplanned abstract image, or something more illustrative? It is only after some time that you then realise that what this painting shows is the underside of a bridge, an iron railing, and a building punctuated by windows behind it, albeit rippled into a charmingly haphazard abstract form.

I’m so excited by the prospect of a world in ripples that I could go on painting them forever. The only trouble is, I don’t think they’ll actually be on show at my solo show in May, which means I should really start concentrating on other works. As to which – come back a little later in the week, to see the work which will be central to my solo exhibition in May.

Until then, have a great week.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com