Aung San Suu Kyi #4: reflections on Marina, Princess of Tyre


Edward G. Nilges “State of ‘Aung San Suu Kyi: Reflections on Marina, Princess of Tyre’ as of 26 August 2010”, acrylic on canvas, 15 x 15 cm

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.

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