Whenever I walk through Sydney Hyde Park, past the Archibald Fountain, along Art Gallery Road, and up to the steps of the Art Gallery of NSW, I remember our six-year-old son, Joel, asking why the names of the Ninja Turtles were displayed at the top of the facade. He’d just had a six-year-old Teenage Mutant Ninja birthday party with green costume and a turtle birthday cake. It was difficult to explain that Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello were the names of very famous Italian Renaissance artists.
The Vitruvian Man is a drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1490. It is accompanied by notes based on the work of the architect Vitruvius. The drawing, which is in pen and ink on paper, depicts a male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man (Wikipedia).
Golden Ratio and Art This drawing is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise De Architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture. Vitruvius determined that the ideal body should be eight heads high. Leonardo’s drawing is traditionally named in honor of the architect. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man (Wikipedia)
The human body: The measurement of the human navel to the floor and the top of the head to the navel represents the Golden ratio.
In a previous post, “The Golden Ratio In Nature“ I pointed out how this ratio appears in many forms of nature and of science.
Many buildings and artworks reflect the Golden Ratio: the Parthenon in Greece, and many other classical buildings in Europe. But it is not really known if it was designed that way. Some artists and architects believe the Golden Ratio makes the most pleasing and beautiful shapes.
There is a mathematical ratio commonly found in nature—the ratio of 1 to 1.618—that has many names. Most often we call it the Golden Section, Golden Ratio, or Golden Mean, but it’s also occasionally referred to as the Golden Number, Divine Proportion, Golden Proportion, Fibonacci Number, and Phi. Now, a Duke University engineer has found the Golden Ratio to be a compelling springboard to unify vision, thought and movement under a single law of nature’s design.
If any creative person deserves to be discovered it is Paul Atroshenko: Artist, Photographer, Video Maker. Have a look at his website displaying his eclectic works of art, including symbolist paintings, and his excellent travel photography. He has also created amazing videos of walks around Sydney. And check out this recent one of dolphins playing in the waves to classical music at Tamarama Beach! The Sydney Morning Herald has placed it on their website.
And don’t forget to visit the 2014 sculptures by the sea from Bondi to Tamarama!
One of the advantages of living where I do in Sydney is that there is water all around me. I’ve always lived near the beaches of the eastern suburbs, Coogee, Clovelly and Bondi. For two years my partner and I decided to experience a harbour change, and to live on the north side of the bridge with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the bays on this side. Eventually we returned to the beach suburbs on the other side of the bridge where you can live right next to a sandy beach, and still be just twenty minutes from the city centre. Artist Paul Atroshenko captures the beauty of Sydney Harbour in his landscape paintings.
When I was young and fell in love with Paris I lived there for four years. It was the River Seine with its many bridges and its islands that seduced me, as well as the ancient cobblestones and beautiful architecture all around me. But I missed the ocean and the Harbour back home. I could have continued to live in France forever, but something called me back to my origins. It was partly the climate; it’s never freezing here, and it’s the sandy beaches and the water all around the place, the citrus-like smells of the eucalypts and the space and the sunshine… But I still need to take the long journey northwards whenever possible to keep in touch with those other amazing cultures up there.
Of course, water is not always benign, and can become quite violent and destructive at times, which is the theme of Paul Atroshenko’s painting “Storm at Clovelly”. On his website, Paul writes, below this painting:
“We have fierce winter storms in Sydney which mainly come from the South. Clovelly has a beach which is generally sheltered from rough seas because it is deep within a narrow bay. But, when the waves come from just the right direction, the power of the sea seems to be magnified by the narrowness of the inlet.
I have used neo-cubist devices in this painting for essentially romantic reasons.”
1. The lion statue that features in the central courtyard of the Museum once sat at the top of a building and weighs 7 tons. It had a much fiercer look back then, with shining jewelled eyes and a fuller jaw. Its softer look appealed to me and reminded me of the lion in the Wizard of Oz.
2: I soon found myself before the famous Rosetta Stone from the Ptolemaic Period, 196 BC, with writing on it in two languages (Egyptian and Greek), using three scripts (hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek). It is one of the most important objects in the British Museum as it holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs—a script made up of small pictures that was used originally in ancient Egypt for religious texts. Hieroglyphic writing died out in Egypt in the fourth century C.E.
3: A two-handled amphora decorated with black figures was made by the celebrated Athenian vase-producer Execias, circa 540 BC. It depicts the death of an Amazon Queen, Penthesileia, at the hands of the Greek hero, Achilles, during the Trojan War. The tragedy of the scene represents the hero’s falling in love with her, at the very moment of Penthesileia’s death. This is captured skillfully by the artist.
4: The fierce figure of Yamāntaka Vajrabhairava, captivated me. I was drawn towards Buddhism at the time of my visit, which may explain why it fascinated me so very much. Made of gilded blue and red coloured bronze, its hands hold various symbols, and its feet rest on a human figure. Here he is shown embracing Vajravarahi, his wisdom partner, representing the spiritual passion for Enlightenment.It dates from the reign of the Chinese Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820).
5: The Gneiss Sphinx of Amenemhat IV is from the Twelfth Dynasty of Ammenemes IV, 1795 BC. The face was reworked during the Roman period. It rests on an integral plinth with a rounded end at the back. The face is damaged; it wears a lion mane in the form of a nemes headdress. It is inscribed on the chest with the prenomen of Amenemhat IV, beloved of Atum, Lord of Heliopolis.
6: The Gayer Anderson Cat, a hollow-cast bronze figure of a seated cat with incised detail, an inlaid silver sun-disc on the chest and golden earrings and nose-rings. It has been one of the most admired objects at the British Museum since its arrival in 1947, acquisitioned and donated by the British Army major, an avid antiquities collector, John Gayer Anderson.
7. One of my favourite artefacts: A statuette of a goat eating leaves in gold leaf and blue from ancient Mesopotamia, the area of the current Iraq.