Archive for the 'Art' Category

La Dolce Vita – Spirit of an Era

Monday, August 10th, 2015

La Dolce Vita – spirit of an eraLa Dolce Vita is a now iconic phrase that conjures images of the winding alleyways and Vespas of a vintage Italy. Imbued with a sense of glamorous freedom, the concept of young people living a hedonistic and self-indulgent life has long entered cross-cultural vernacular and leaves us lamenting our lack of Italian blood. Here, Michel Cruz traces the origins and inspirations for the phenomenon that has come to define an epoch.

While Britain and America were in the grip of the Swinging Sixties, Italy made its own unique contribution – La Dolce Vita. Literally translated as ‘the sweet life’, it embodies the sense of freedom, open possibilities and joie de vivre of the post war era.

We strive for permanence in everything we do, from installing new regimes to chasing the ultimate form of style, not realising that success, happiness and ideals are but fleeting moments. With the horrors of the Second World War and the sparseness of the immediate post war years behind it, Europe awoke like a flower in spring to a whole new world of possibilities. With Marshall Aid, the continent was rebuilding itself upon the pillars of prosperity and democracy as a tide of youthful liberalism and creativity swept through the once dusty streets. (more…)

The tones of taste

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Tones of Taste- Michel CruzThough they relate to different senses and experiences, colour and taste are so entwined as to overlap in meaning – making yellow synonymous with lemons, brown with chocolate and orange with, well oranges. The strength of the relationship is revealed when you imagine a topsy-turvy world in which beer is green, tomatoes brown and rice blue…

We associate colours and tastes to such an extent that we mix them, speaking of lemon yellow, lime green, tangerine, plum red, chocolate brown and so on. In fact, many of the characteristics we ascribe to a certain tone, such as fresh green or deep burgundy, are at least in part drawn from the foodstuff they remind us of. Naturally there are also variants, such as white chocolate, green tomatoes and brown rice, but while we have grown used to these it feels odd to stray too far from the combination of tones and flavours that have become engrained in our brains, as well as our eyes and taste buds. (more…)

Sixto Rodriguez and other poets

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Rodriguez, Cold Fact album coverPerhaps it’s a generational thing but I’ve never really gotten poetry. With few exceptions poems to me seem a random jumbling of words that speak of self-indulgent rambling in the same pseudo-intellectual manner of abstract art. If you can’t discern deep and poignant meanings from a wild array of painted dashes then chances are you won’t be able to feel the pained emotions of the poet either. Apologies to all true poetry lovers, but this kind of navel gazing ain’t for me.

And yet, we all know that words can stir emotion like few other means of human expression. Perhaps only music and art can convey feeling with the same intensity – and it is therefore from the most unexpected sources that I have come to enjoy poetry. Like when a sentence in a book suddenly causes you to sit up and ponder it, quite apart from the overall story, or when you hear certain parts of a song. The latter may be good, bad or indifferent, but can stand out for the poignancy and feeling of a single line. (more…)

Melfi, castle town of the Langobardi

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Lombardi castle of Melfi, ItalyThough set in the midst of peaceful rural country, Calitri is a convenient point from which to explore surroundings that include Vesuvius, Naples, Amalfi, Positano, Salerno, Capri, Benevento, Monte Casino, Herculaneum, Bari, Puglia and the Adriatic Coast, to name a few. You’ll be able to reach most of these places in little more than an hour, but if you just want to cruise around the countryside and go for a short trip to visit local towns there is also plenty to see.

At little more than a quarter of an hour’s drive from Calitri, Melfi is just such a town. Situated at the base of the heavily forested Monte Vulture, this ancient town traces its roots to pre-Roman times when it formed part of the ancient region of Lucania. Touched also by the Samnites and classical Greeks, it was long a quiet little town within Roman Italy before the fall of the Roman Empire changed the landscape considerably and added further elements to the mix. (more…)

Sax and Art

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Artist TaoufiqTaoufiq Hsaine is the kind of person you immediately both like and are extremely envious of; a fascinating, resonant and talented man who gives the impression of fitting more into every minute than most achieve in a whole lifetime. As lead tenor saxophonist, his dulcet timbres graced the ears of Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana – amongst others – before Taoufiq set off in his trusty VW to explore the musical landscape of Europe.

His journey took him to Venice, Paris, Salzburg and Prague, but it was Krakow, Poland, that had the greatest effect on him. “I met a wonderful 80-year-old man, a friend of Pope John Paul II.  He was so passionate and he encouraged me to start painting. I did; he bought my first painting and now painting is my life,” he says. (more…)