Monday, January 22, 2007


Just got back from a tasty lunch at the Dux De Lux followed by a visit to the Christchurch Art Gallery, an attractive little museum a block from the Devon.

They had a lovely show of Giacometti prints, drawings and sculptures. Giacometti and I share a birthday (Oct. 10) and he died the year I was born (1966). His sculptures are haunting and deceptively simple-looking - tall and thin figures standing rigidly erect, features all but obliterated in a field of surface vibration. But I found his drawings and prints even more attractive. Very simple subject matter again: a head, a chair, a small group of figures. But rendered loosely as spare lattices of visceral response to.... something, seen in the few models he employed over and over again (his mother, his brother, his wife, his mistress). Made me want to make etchings again, and lithographs.

Also a wonderful set of small rooms filled with drawings and paintings by the spookily gifted 19th c. New Zealand/Dutch artist Petrus Van Der Velden - in particular, a series of sketchbooks and studies for a painting called the Dutch Funeral. Gorgeous drawings a la Rembrandt or certain 19th c. Russian artists like Ilya Repin, but moodier, darker, quieter, seemingly obsessed with beauty in death and suffering. Some of the sketches were tiny, no more than a couple of inches on a side, brown pages taken from battered sketchbooks... haunting, inspiring, and very humbling.

Tomorrow we have the day off; Wednesday we get our cold weather gear, and Thursday we fly to McMurdo.

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