Neo-Decadent

The Art and Opinions of Heidi Celeghin, Aesthete


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Velocidad / Speed : BWR

The boat is an architectural space that intersects the landscape and (re)defines it.  The black spaces in the painting are points where three-dimensionality starts to fall apart as well as pauses in the movement.  I wanted to introduce the “black space” which features in my ink drawings into my painting.  They are locations were the eye can rest but also invite the viewer to sink into the painting. This painting is part of the series done for Marks: The Barcelona World Race Journey.  In this three-month long project, I was working together with Team Neutrogena and the Barcelona World Race.

Velocidad

Velocidad

 


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The Albatross

Albatross

Albatross

 

I have just finished one more painting for Marks.  In fact, my brief disappearance has been due to my endeavor.  I have been dedicating all my time to painting as the shipping date comes closer.

There is a 5th painting that is very close to completion.  I plan on finishing it tomorrow or Friday.


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Calma/Calm : Barcelona World Race Journey

I completed Calma / Calm this Monday and am trying to work as quickly as possible on the remaining pieces.  Now that the race is rapidly reaching its conclusion, I am becoming as efficient as possible as well as trying to evolve out of sleep.  I had mastered the art of sleeplessness during my thesis, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Expect more updates soon!

Calm


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Viento / Wind : Barcelona World Race

Viento

I finished Viento / Wind this week for Marks: The Barcelona World Race Journey.  Check out the website for more information: Marks.


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Djinn : Arabian Horse

Djinn

Djinn

 

This drawing was made to raise money for a school for autistic children in Houston.  The theme for the event at the Westview School is Arabian Nights so I decided to draw an Arabian horse so that it is in keeping with the theme.

It is a 22 x 30 inch graphite and conté drawing.

I named the piece Djinn because of the desert spirits of Arab folklore.  They have freewill, just like humans, and are made of a smokeless flame (or the fire of wind).  Djinn can metamorphose into a variety of animals.


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Thirty-six Views of the Eiffel Tower

I recently visited the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art exhibit at the MFAH.  The show was spectacular.  However, this post is not about the exhibit, it is about books.

Cover

When I was browsing the books at the museum store, I happened upon Les Trente-six Vues de la Tour Eiffel by Henri Rivière.  The book was published in its original format – which is what made it completely irresistible.  It is in the traditional Decadent, Art Nouveau style that was initially pioneered by Whistler.  The combination of text and image on the page is pervasive.

title

Prologue

The prints, however, are large and therefore, allow for close inspection.  They are inspired by Japanese wood-block prints (see Hiroshige), something that Decadent book designers were drawn to.

image

 

In order to fully appreciate the wonderful find that was this book, one has to explore Decadent book-making and design practice.  The theoretical desire to meld text and image, combined with technological advancements, resulted in the creation of the adult illustrated book.  Whistler pioneered the aestheticized book in his objet d’art publications such as The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.  Whistler’s combination of text and image in a compositionally balanced design inscribed the book within aesthetic discourse.  Subsequent publications of “little magazines” such as The Chameleon, The Yellow Book, and The Savoy continued the trend begun by Whistler.  These publications elevated images, traditionally relegated to a secondary position, to the level of text.

The creators of the little magazines tried to unite visual and written art in order to highlight their belief in the possibility of combining diverse arts and paving the way for a new form of art.[1] These magazines were the ultimate mode of Decadent expression and, due to their careful attention to composition, their target audience was the aesthete.

I also ordered painter Odd Nerdrum’s book How We Cheat Each Other and it just arrived in the mail.  Nerdrum is a fantastic artist and I cannot wait to delve into his writing – after all, we are both representational artists who write!  Below is a photograph of the book on the table my grandfather made.

Nerdrum


[1].  Murray G.H. Pittock, Spectrum of Decadence: The Literature of the 1890s (London: Routledge, 1993), 57.

 


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Adi – More About the Portrait

The portrait I painted of the writer Adi, recently shown at the Norma R. Ory Gallery (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), will soon be shipped to London.  This portrait stays true to by Neo-Decadent aesthetic in that it seeks to combine the arts – text, sound (the spoken poem), and image.  Is Adi’s writing in the background more of a portrait of himself than the image in the front?  The two elements compete with each  other but nonetheless there is a harmony between them.   While the figure has a strong sense of volume, the text emphasizes the flat nature of the canvas and the medium.

Adi

While creating Adi, I drew from my interest in the Neo-Classical movement where figures are idealized and made statuesque.  I was particularly informed by Ingres’ 1845 portrait of the Vicomtess Othenin d’Haussonville (Frick Collection, NYC).

Vicomtess Othenin d'Haussonville