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Monday, November 24, 2014

False Impression ~ Van Gogh's bandaged ear.. : Self-portrait to ..... Selfie

I read recently – ‘False Impression’,  a mystery novel by English author Jeffrey Archer, first published in February 2005 (the no. of English novel are less than fingers of both hands !) …. The story occurs mostly in UK and partly USA & Romania,  but traverses through Continents.  In the engrossing tale on a masterpiece artwork, the knowledge of the artwork resonates quite heavily.   Quite a new angle is that upon the occurrence of Sept.11, some people went missing, presumed dead and some who were alive too, chose to  make this an opportunity ! – it has its share of killing starting with that of an English countess and more people by a hired assassin who once was a great gymnast.  The good person is a Japanese Steel magnate who with passion for artwork is willing to spend fortune and  save people.  It is cleverly constructed entanglement that keeps the readers guessed throughout.

In a recent newsitem, tilted ‘Taking Selfies to new heights’ – Daily Mail reports of a photographer snapping nauseating photo from 2,722ft on top of the world's tallest building in Dubai.  The British photographer, Gerald Donovan took a remarkable selfie atop Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.  Donovan, 47, captured a remarkable shot of himself while completing the Dubai 360 project, which allows anyone anywhere in the world to take an interactive tour of the city. 'I'm not usually one for selfies, in fact, I think this could well be the very first one I've ever shared,' he said.  Cheltenham-born Donovan, who has been based in the United Arab Emirates for seven years, used a special panoramic camera controlled by an iPhone app to take his selfie at 2,722 feet.  The timelapse is just a single component of a city-wide interactive tour of still photography, video, and timelapses - all presented in fully interactive 360 degree views.

Selfie may be the newfound addiction of people, taking photos of Self and posting them on Social network …… perhaps it not entirely new – as centuries ago, there existed the practice of portraits (equivalent to photographs of the modern day) and ‘Self-portrait’ – the equivalent to ‘Selfie’ !!

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 – 1890) was a Post-Impressionist painter of Dutch origin whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold colour. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, the much acclaimed painter of now, died aged 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted. He began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolours, drawings, sketches, and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes, portraits as well as paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.

In 1885, he painted his first major work, entitled The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists.  The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death.  The precise chain of events that led to the celebrated incident of van Gogh slicing off his ear is not known reliably in detail. In one evening of Dec 1988, Van Gogh severed his left ear (either wholly or in part; accounts differ) with a razor, inducing a severe haemorrhage.  By some accounts, he bandaged his wound, wrapped the ear in paper, and delivered the package to a brothel frequented. 

The self-portrait [a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist] shows the artist in three-quarter profile standing in a room in the Yellow House wearing a closed coat and a fur cap. His right ear is bandaged. It was in fact his left ear that was bandaged, the painting being a mirror image. Van Gogh shows the bandage on his mutilated ear like a saint displaying the stigmata; the act of self-mutilation changed Van Gogh.
Photo credit :

Getting back, Jeffrey Howard Archer’s novel revolves around this artwork ‘bandaged ear’ – the central characters being the rich but cruel Bryce Fenston, his aid with criminal past Leapman, art expert Anna Petrescu, Jack Delaney,  besides Japanese business magnate and English countess who owns the portrait and whose estate is sinking in debts. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Nov. 2014.

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