Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My Peruvian Adventure- Lima; conclusions; next?



Lima, tabernacle, oil on card, 21.2 x 17.5 cm  SOLD

Lima, a block near the courts, oil on card, 17.2 x 19 cm

This building near the courts reminded me of the Flatiron in New York. 

Lima, a view of a street in the centre, oil on card, 17.7 x 18.5 cm

This picture has not photographed well. There are some colour combinations that the camera is very poor with. But it is a good picture with a nice Dufy-ish feel, albeit more tightly composed.


I spent almost a week in Lima and painted only three pictures. But they are all good: the colours are original and they are unfussy and confident. I stayed in the centre and in Miraflores too. I went to Miraflores because I am a softie and a rotten traveller and the filth of old Lima started to depress me. But Miraflores is also a bit depressing in its blandness and provides nothing much worth painting. I know because when I`d set myself up to work on something I found after some minutes that I could scarcely focus on the motif so glazed with boredom had I become. It was as if nothing in Miraflores told or suggested any story, it was so blandly, nicely, suburban.

Lima proper is very rich architecturally (if in need of considerable restoration), with a more splendid variety of buildings by miles than I have seen in any other Latin American city including Rio, Santiago and Salvador.


Travelling and painting in Peru 

You come home and within two days its as if you had never been anywhere at all.

Peru is mostly good to paint in. The people are not generally criminals and they don`t harry you sleazily as is the custom in North Africa. They are mainly polite, good-natured and a little shy. That includes the children who are neither nasty and sly like British children, vicious like the stone-throwing prodigy of Arabia, nor like the fat Ritalin-addled slobs you get in Donald Trump`s USA (Brazilian children are also mostly amicable- at least, the children of the lower orders are. The children of the Brazilian bourgeoisie are as revolting as their adult peers, spoilt and self-regarding and forever glued to their moronic smart-phones).

There are dogs everywhere, however, and these are sometimes aggressive. I had to rescue a schoolgirl in Ayacucho from a pack of about six of them. She was traumatized and went back home crying. Occasionally the dogs are covered in sores. I frequently saw pigs too, some of them enormous and shamelessly slothful.

Hygiene is not, generally, a high priority among Peruvians. Restaurants rarely have soap and towels, and the streets reek of urine. There is litter all over the place.

I sometimes found the food to be so poor as to be repulsive, created as it generally is by stewing the innards of uncertain animals for long periods of time. Salad is a rarity. The breads are weird- round and cardboard-y. There are some salty cheeses. Cakes are more impressive in their appearance than taste, which also has the aspect of cardboard. Ceviche is not worth making a fuss about- it`s acidic and gives one a belly-ache. For dinner fried chicken with chips is compulsory but it`s rarely any good and you feel sad after dining. The coffee, which is mainly instant or some concoction made in advance in a tureen, isn't much to look forward to. Milk is uncommon.

 The light is soft and sad and not bad at all but equally it is not remarkable as it can be in Italy on a golden evening or when here in winter it is clear and crisp and the sun is low casting such blue shadows. It didn't rain much at all and I managed to work most days. The landscapes I found did not often convey a grandeur though except near Tarma. I was stymied by the road blockage out of Ayacucho as that route might have given me more dramatic perspectives. I also missed the beauty of tall trees. 

In architecture Peru is quite harmonious. Their modern buildings do not, as in Brazil,  disturb so hideously the older constructions (really Brazilians should be very ashamed of their architecture and how cruelly they have treated their heritage). And the older constructions in Peru are often of considerable interest and merit. 

I met few other travelers and those few I met (4 x French) were unfriendly to the point of rudeness. What a pointless nation the French have become! Anyway, being alone is quite agreeable- my own company is very good.


Some of the paintings are good, some repeat themes. The average size of pictures is greater than in previous trips and I won`t work larger, at least not for a while. Anyway, there are maybe as many as ten paintings I am unequivocally happy with, which isn't a bad number (but what is the right number?). The business is capricious and I am not sure one ever really gets better at it.

Where next?

Chicago and New York. I like to go to a western country after having spent time in an undeveloped country.  Maybe about 9 days in each of these cities? Also, I like Uruguay and want to go back there in winter as the light is so good.

I have only just returned and I am desperate to get another  solid period in which I can do some work.  I hate the bittiness of previous journeys- in fact I am angry with myself for permitting such short essays. And with distant trips one loses days here and there just travelling and finding ones bearings. 


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