Saturday, February 23, 2013

A trip to Egypt: Aswan, part 2: the town; painting cities


Aswan- behind the Keylany Hotel, oil on card, 13 x 11 cm Not for sale 

Aswan, looking down from the Keylany Hotel restaurant, oil on card, 16 x 12 cm

Aswan- parked cars, people, sun, oil on card, 10 x 12 cm

Aswan, shops, people, sun, oi lon card, 10 x 12 cm

Aswan- near the station, a shop and an entrance, oil on card, 12 x 15 cm

This is the final selection from Egypt and the town of Aswan, parts of which have an almost soviet feel, in terms of architecture and street planning.

Chaos and colour are much more inspiring than sobriety and order, however. Mess is revealing, order disguises.

 The best painting cities for me combine disorder, with good light, and interesting topographical features, such as hills, or rivers or canals. It helps if they have a variety of architectural styles, but this ins not very important for me

More important is if the industries or trades that are practised in that city can be seen publicly- stalls selling things, clothes being repaired, food being cooked, ships loaded or unloaded, and so forth (I once read that London never managed to produce the array of photographers that Paris did in the 30s, with Doisneau, Kertesz, Cartier Bresson and Brassai, because London life is so much more private and interiorised than Parisian life, and so much less enjoyable to photograph- an example being how the London pub is an enclosed space where the Parisian cafe is open to view by the general public. I am not sure if this argument really stands up to analysis, however, since there was surely no shortage of street markets, children playing street games and sports events, etc in London in the 20 and 30s).

 Good painting cities also have to be safe places with ready access to public spaces.The people should be pleasant and respect one while one is working.

Rio is a good painting city, but it is unsafe. London lacks consistently good light, and its people conduct their trades (which are often visually uninspiring,) on computer screens behind closed doors. Italian cities are often sanitised- Catania and Naples, of the places I`ve been are exceptions). Egyptian cities are good in most aspects but spoiled by hassle, which is why I worked so often for roofs and cafes, safe from sellers.


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