The wizard behind the wizard

Joan Miro, Detail of Photo: This is the Color of my Dreams, 1925, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Photo: This Is the Color of My Dreams, 1925
Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983)
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
© 2011 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

I’ve never stopped to consider the color of my dreams.  If you asked me, I’d probably say just black and white.  Miró painted his blue. This painting isn’t what you’d normally expect from him, but he’s a Surrealist after all, so all bets are off.  It’s a simple composition like the two paintings previous, Tantric Art and Cy Twombly’s (blog post Passed Over).  And I think, quite a daring distillation.

We watch this lone washed spot of blue, deeply cryptic and cool. We read the words, enticingly enigmatic. Two simple mysteries at work here. A simple mystery? Ironic, huh? I tend to want a complicated mystery. Smoke and mirrors. Yet here, Miró distills his dreams to a single, curious blue. How could he do such a thing? What about all those disturbing images of teeth falling out of my mouth, or showing up to class naked, or avoiding being squashed by the big toe of God, or gasp, waking up in the arms of the wrong lover?

Because we dream that we are very complex and interesting people after all. Doesn’t your inner-soul cavern protect ancient runes?  That only the wisest seer among us can decipher (for $150 an hour). Yet with a wave of his brush, Miró banishes our mystery in a cloud of blue smoke.

Curiosity is this blue spot, motioning us to pull back the velvet curtain of our dreams, of our “self.”  Because we already know what we want to know about ourselves and others. It’s finding the courage to be curious. To ask. This painting, once enigmatic opens to a simple reality. Revealing that the wizard behind the great Oz is a blue you or me.


Hairy Situation

Kezban Arca Batibeki's Hairy Tale 2011,  embroidery and collage on canvas COURTESY OF LEILA HELLER GALLERY, NEW YORK

Kezban Arca Batibeki's Hairy Tale 2011, embroidery and collage on canvas COURTESY OF LEILA HELLER GALLERY, NEW YORK

This jewel-like piece comes to us from a Turkish artist working in Istanbul.  Batibeki, a women herself, stages these ladies like puzzle pieces in interior poses. En masse, their forms join to create a graphic harem, a feminine “one.”  Around them roam lions or possibly cougars. They are in danger and unaware, or the animal’s power symbolizes their own power, in complete control. Could they be “on the prowl?”

A branch bisects the field of the canvas or perhaps a crack of some sort.  The power of their collective beauty splitting the fabric of a culture or growing into it.

The group, preoccupied with beauty, wears elegant beaded dresses. One lady applies makeup. Some are reading.  But the velvetblack  hair captures our full attention. The hair with a mind of its own, seems unconcerned with the poses of the women. Defying gravity and convention.  The punctuation-like hair styles voice the feminine spirit.

An ocean blue background unifies the ladies and their bold black tresses. The color blue in European tradition often signifies the divine (the color of the Virgin Mary).  However in Mediterranean cultures, blue wields protective power as a shield from evil spirits.  Everywhere you go in Turkey and other middle eastern countries, you see evil eye amulets worn (like crosses in the West) as an omen to ward off evil.

Do these women need protecting or are you their prey?

Nazar Boncugu - evil eye amulets

Nazar Boncugu - evil eye amulets