Sunday, November 14, 2010

Four from Catania, Sicily; tourist painting

Four from Catania, oil on canvas with coins for scale

Catania is a strinking city- dilapidated, dirty and gorgeous. As I walked from the train station past the seedy harbour area to the fish market where my hostel was, lines from Tom Waits' Tom Traubert's Blues  played in my mind:

"No one speaks English, and everything's broken", or "And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace, And a wound that will never heal."

It's a great place for painting, there's that variety of textures and sensations you get in places with haven't been sterilised for tourists- the mess, the squalor: the wounds unbound - lending you intimacy. The baroque architecture of Catania is fantastic and the city has hills that variety of levels which allows for varied perspectives. And at night the city has a sinister allure.

View near the Garibaldi Gate, oil on card, 10 x 11.5 cm

Catania- view of the city from the south, oil on card, 11.5 x 9.6cm

Catania- opposite the Agora Hostel, oil on card, 9.5 x 11.5 cm
Catania, Sicily- view near Piazza Curro, oil on card, 12.4 x 9.5 cm

I had been thinking of doing some paintings in London whcih specifically tackled known tourist sights- Houses of Parliament, Nelsons Column etc- but I think that the idea is poor, because these places so control resposes, denying intimacy and nuanced responses from visitors. They are propogandist, like official portraits lacking personality, and it would be better for me to do a series set in London's non- touristy neighbourhoods, such as Brixton or Battersea, where it is easier to locate one's subjectivity.


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