Archive for Aung San Suu Kyi
Edward G. Nilges, “Two Postcards from Aung Saan Suu Kyi”, Acrylic painting stages assembled with text using Microsoft Paint, 20 Sep 2010
“Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning?”
“The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.”
Edward G. Nilges, “Aung San Suu Kyi: Reflections on Marina, Princess of Tyre”, 30 August 2010
I Think Continually Of Those Who Were Truly Great
I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are fŠted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.
Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.
Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Aung San Suu Kyi: Reflections on Marina, Princess of Tyre’ as of 29 Aug 2010″, acrylic on canvas, 15 x15 cm
Edward G. Nilges, “Monochrome State of ‘Aung San Suu Kyi: Reflections on Marina, Princess of Tyre’ as of 29 Aug 2010″, acrylic on canvas, 15 x15 cm
Edward G. Nilges, “Unfinished Aung San and the Unknown Helper 29 Aug 2010″, acrylic paintings on canvas, photograph was somewhat manipulated (saturation)
“Monks, all is burning. What is burning?” – Buddha
It feels as if I am imprisoning her within bars of rose and grey, putting her on a pedestal, obsessing over her image like Evita/Madonna, like that nutbar who swam to her house. Well, art is a constructive way IMO of dealing with obsessions.
Once again the painting has an amateurish quality which I like but must purge.
I have a nice little wall of art as a result of my efforts. Hey, free paintings (not counting the cost of materials). For me. If you like any painting, make me an offer (email firstname.lastname@example.org): but I shall be reluctant to part with these works.
The grisaille is finished.
The nose is a little cockeyed, although studying pictures of her father, Aung San, he has the same angled nose: large for Asia.
It’s not a true likeness nor a professional portrait, but as Beethoven wrote on the score of his last quartet: muss ess sein ess muss sein. Somehow, there is something of the breath of life in there and “a spirit like a flame”.
The “art” does not matter. Unum necessarium.
[Jesus] . . . entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary . . . .
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:42 (no I’m not a Christian: no, I’m not a commodity)
27 Aug: a friend on the ferry recognized Aung San in my portrait before seeing the banner, so I’m hopefully on the right track.
Doing a portrait is very different from casually taking someone’s picture. It reveals a soul, a spark (of the divine), an anima if it’s any good at all, and there are few if any likenesses that do not do this.
The whole face works together. The fact that Aung San’s plunging straight Western nose divides her face means that we tend, like Picasso, to favor looking at one side or the other. The asymmetry is not just an artifact of my clumsy drawing and the way I preserve my mistakes for posterity by projecting the “cartoon” (line drawing) on the canvas, it also gives this portrait life.
On YouTube she projects a vulnerability that her enemies doubtless exploit through this asymmetry.
To see what I mean, contrast her photo with Margaret Thatcher or Hilary Clinton.
Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ as of 24 Aug 2010″, acrylic on canvas 15 x 15 cm
Alter? When the hills do.
Falter? When the sun
Question if his glory
Be the perfect one.
She looks a little posh
That look came hard to her
‘Twas her father’s struggle
Against the lathi rod and cosh
She got an Education
Abroad…they can’t forgive
That with such Gifts…she’ll give
Is but a Tribute paid
By those who can no longer praise
The morning sun, its Rays
(Apologies to Emily Dickinson)
The photograph inferior, but the painting is changing. A fundamental feature of the dysfunction from which I still struggle to emerge is blindness to process. The painting is darkening and the brush strokes in the background, albeit abstract, are much more difficult to get right.
They need to literally represent the social struggle surrounding her. They are underpainting for what probably will be Asian yellow and the red of flames.
I always find abstraction harder than realism.
The darkness of the dress must pick up that of the hair.
A column of light like a pillar of fire shall extend from her rather high forehead down to her only slightly middle-aged neck.
These three notes need to construct the basic theme, like the Kyrie of the Missa Solemnis.
She shall wear dull but glowing earrings as is the custom in her land.
Her name is spelled Suu not Syu. She is the daughter of one who gave the British hell, such that the British Resident was heard to say when he left, I depart unhonoured and Aung San’d.
Western media doesn’t make the obvious parallel between the Bangkok communards of last year and Burma of the year before. It’s a boot stamping on a human face, but not in this portrait where I am like Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously remaking reality in his “magic developing bath”.
Right now I see the background as Asian, dull reds and yellows. The dress blue catching a light in its centre which I need to add.
Outside, a sudden rain smacks the window air conditioner.
This is another series of “working papers” in which I document the development of a painting using the indirect method of the European masters in acrylics, a line drawing, ink and wash, grisaille and then color, keeping the layers thin at all times to let the light bounce off the pure white of the canvas and come to your eyes.
The eyes are driving me crazy. They are not almond shaped and she is doing something pert and Western with them. They don’t pass Leonardo da Vinci’s reverse test, since in the mirror or flipped on the computer, she looks funny.
Nonetheless I owe this start something, an effort. I need to use layers to smooth the contrast while preserving its meaning. Sucks.
We owe to art more than it owes us: art is not therapy for the artist nor is it entertainment for the sort of international slobs that troop through the Louvre.
This is because, as my fat pal Adorno points out, there was a time when there was no distinction between “art” and “religion”, and “making a religion of art” is not just some stupid gesture. I know that I got more out of hanging around the Louvre than going to Mass in Paris (in part because the Mass in French deliberately destroys the mystery and internationalism, which I miss, of the Latin, Tridentine mass, which was said on the beach after D-Day, and then thrown into the garbage).
There’s something about the effect of layers of translucency on Ms. Kyi’s face that needs to be pursued, in a way that is of course difficult to put into words. The fact that adding white brings out new planes, new aspects, new suffering in her gracile face is, I think, something that drives the generals wild in Burma.
Is that racist? Westerners “see” Asian faces as less molded and as featureless because they don’t … see. But it’s true that if you’re a fat and vicious thug and slob, eating like a pig and drinking yourself stupid covers you with layers of lard, and this hides you, no matter whether you are Asian or Western. I speak from experience.
In the (very funny) scenes in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, where Marina is marooned in the whorehouse and persuades every suitor but one to keep his paws off her using language alone, buying that pig Boult off with gold, Shakespeare shows the power of truth-based language (which, to Shakespeare, was the only real language, all others being calculi and tautology).
Marina deftly shows that if the homeboys rape her, they might as well not walk the earth because something so simple as getting out of bed in the morning or not ending up face down in a puddle of vomit in the evening requires an organizing ethical ontology.
Why, your herb-woman; she that sets seeds and roots
of shame and iniquity. O, you have heard something
of my power, and so stand aloof for more serious
wooing. But I protest to thee, pretty one, my
authority shall not see thee, or else look friendly
upon thee. Come, bring me to some private place:
If you were born to honour, show it now;
If put upon you, make the judgment good
That thought you worthy of it.
How’s this? how’s this? Some more; be sage.
That am a maid, though most ungentle fortune
Have placed me in this sty, where, since I came,
Diseases have been sold dearer than physic,
O, that the gods
Would set me free from this unhallow’d place,
Though they did change me to the meanest bird
That flies i’ the purer air!
I did not think
Thou couldst have spoke so well; ne’er dream’d thou couldst.
Had I brought hither a corrupted mind,
Thy speech had alter’d it. Hold, here’s gold for thee:
Persever in that clear way thou goest,
And the gods strengthen thee!
Somehow, without innocence (for by 1608 Shakespeare had lost any innocence for certain), Shakespeare has Marina, who knows exactly what sort of place she’s working in, keep her innocence using words.
Boult’s and Bawd’s knocking shop is a place of disease (they mention a Transylvanian, perhaps Dracula, who gets the pox at their place), since syphilis was rampant, and some authors say there are indications in Shakespeare that he thought, around the turn of the century, he might have it. He probably was plunged into suspicion and depression, like Othello, from which his greatest works emerged.
I saw a guy standing on the corner in San Francisco once whose face was spotted with Karposi’s Sarcoma and he had an astonished expression. The 1590s had been Shakespeare’s decade to mess around: the first decade of the 17th century was quite different, with the beginnings of the “little Ice Age” and rampant pox.
But does Marina’s Pure Language work in Burma? I don’t know. All I know is that life is short and art is long, and the only way I have to celebrate Ms. Kyi is with a lot of translucent layers of form and color.
“The radio blares military music in the half empty bar
I gamble with the general who’s got only one star.”