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No Malaise in Millais

I went to the Millais exhibit at the Tate Britain yesterday and I haven't been so inspired by a collection of paintings in I don't know when.

I guess the most common is his depiction of Ophelia.


What can never been realized in any reproduction (online or on paper) is how vibrant this painting is. Her right hand very nearly comes right off of the canvas. The verdant lushness of the painting, the photo-realism of her face and eyes. It's just so much more lovely than I'd ever realized.

And oh my, the colors. The deep, velvety blue of Mariana's dress (and the cute little rat in the lower right corner of this magnificent character study). The bright autumnal orangey bronze of the lover's skirt in The Proscribed Royalist. The Hugeonot's violet jacket, popping off the canvas in contrast to his lover's black dress.

The other thing that struck me was the drama of the situations in so many of the paintings. Not only were they taken from works of written art (Shakespeare, Keats, Tennyson), but they sparked story ideas within me. What was she waiting for? What's in the letter she just read (and shouldn't Cherry Jones deliver the speech)? Just how happy is she that her husband's been released from jail? And just what's going through St. Agnes' mind?

I suppose I could read some Keats to find out. Or maybe I could just pretend I'm standing in that pale blue square of moonlight and write a new monologue for her.

It was a spectacular couple of hours. And a perfect way to end the last two weeks that I've spent with Anna ... who was really a gift of a student. I would love to see how Millais might have painted her.

She's a Finnish woman whose first language is Swedish. She used to teach Greek at the University level and has worked as an EU translator in Luxembourg for the last dozen years, a job she sort of fell into. She's spent the last several years refurbing a house she bought in Thessaloniki ... which has become her spiritual home. We've spent the last two weeks discussing myth and poetry, uncovering lyrics to modern pop-punk songs she's heard in shops, exploring the vocabulary of motivation, and pretty much solving the world's problems. She's reintroduced me to Greek mythology (a topic that's been weaving its way in and out of my psyche for the past couple months -- and now the synchronicity is too strong to be ignored) and given me my first glimpse of me of Constantine Cavafy.

If you ever need a reminder that it's all about the journey, give Ithaca a read. It's beautiful.

I really do have the best job and am working with the most fascinating people.

:: :: ::

Oh, and before you think I've gone all soft on you and lost my allegedly disturbed sense of humor, there's one more thing to share. I saw the other day that the morals police were trying to confiscate pieces of Elton John's photography collection (photos he owns, not photos he took) under the grounds that they were child pornography. It's a rubbish theory, IMHO, but people do get their knickers in a twist, don't they?

With that in mind, I saw this portrait yesterday at the Millais exhibit ...

The title of said portrait is "Cherry Ripe."

If I'd have put that in a Tuesday 200, y'all would have booed me louder than Carol Kane in The Princess Bride, wouldn't you?

But John Everett did it in 1879, using his own daughter as a model, and it's art.