“The image that resists all explanation” – Part 1

Only 2 hours journey by Eurostar and Adrian and I are able to pay a visit to the city of Brussles and its Musee Margitte Museum. 

The legacy of the famous surrealist Rene Margitte is explicitly presented in the life of the Belgian capital. A few building around the Grand Palace have his well-known objects painted on their walls. Many shops sell gifts and art items with Margitte’s signature images. The museum of his works is very well attended by an international crowd.
It opened on 2nd June 2009. Its creation was result of the enthusiasm, efforts and  professionalism of the Belgian state and Belgian economical, art and civil community. 
This devotion to treasure the national art heritage and made it available for the public its not specifically Belgian or European. 
The same cultural ambitions I have experienced in Chicago. The Modern Wing of the Art Institute designed by Renzo Piano and also opened in 2009 contains at least 11 Margate’s canvases and drawings including the famous “Time transfixed”1938.
However, the Museum in Brussels has the biggest world-leading collection of works by Margitte . It is situated in the renovated Hotel Altenloh on The Place Royale. 
The Museum has an unusual structure. The exhibition is spread on three floors and the tour starts from the top floor. 

The paintings are accompanied by lifeline explanations and photographs.The visitors can read  Margate’s own words in French and see many drawings, posters, book illustrations, photographs and even movies. 
It is a very well thought-out and organised museum. The gift shop sells pleasant items. Despite the overwhelming visiting crowd the museum still excludes  a sense of space. 
The only big disadvantage is that there is no cafe on the premises. I hope this issue will be soon attended to. 
That leaves us with only one thing – to enjoy the unexplainable world of Rene Margitte. 
I often hear that everything in art has already been created. 
This argument does have a point yet I do not think it applies to really talented artists. 
Their artistic style is unmistakably unique and visionary, art to be followed. 
Let’s look at some of the painting of Rene Margitte and their contemporary resonance:
In 1927 Margate painted “The female Tief” and the “Man from the Sea” – two canvases from his “black period” when he constructed his “ enigmatic visual world”. 
Nearly 100 years later see what appears:
The canvas “The Secret Player” was created in 1927. 
Again, 96 years later,  in 2020 we had the global Covid pandemic.
Could you recognise the crises – a woman wearing a mask, a frightening flying black turtle in the sky, skittles turning into trees, and a losing team?
“Great expectations”1940. 
The grounded, stable, even reassuringly round trees could present ambitions rooted in “community and creativity, with goals like feeling connected whole and healthy”.
And the highly ambitious, skinny and unstable tree with a few leaves but reaching for the sky.
To be continued….

Bravissimo Maestro Donizetti!

I struggled this week to decide about attending the opera, The Elixir of Love (L’elisir d’Amore), by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. 
In order to come to a decision I weighed up the pros and cons. 
Cons were a few. 
The local theatre. The Regent Centre, was broadcasting the Royal Opera House production in the middle of the working week. 
The show starts at 19.15 and lasts around 3 hours with an interval. 
Additionally, I had to travel back and forth to my house numerous times.
Pros included the light-hearted libretto with a happy ending, the world-class production and cast. 
Above everything else was the splendid music of the genius Donizetti who wrote the music for the opera in just 6 weeks.
So, I moved in favour of the live broadcasting and thank God, I did. 
It completely lifted me, physically and psychologically for the rest of the week. My tiredness disappeared, I felt inspired. I happily sang phrases of the well-known aria “ Una Furtiva Lagrima” at home and work.
The synopsis of the opera is simple. The plot develops around the deep love of a poor, naive village boy Nemorino for a rich and attractive girl Adina. 
To complicate the situation a rival, the military sergeant Belcore appears on the scene. 
Nemorino feels he needs a miracle to win over Adina.
Fortunately for him, a con artist called Dr. Dulcamara arrives in the village. 
In a moment of pure brilliance Dr Dulcamara produces the desperately needed love elixir (a half bottle of a cheap Bordeaux wine). 
At the end, Adina realises that she has always been in love with Nemorino who is now conveniently rich and very popular among the village girls following the death of his uncle. 
The love rival Belcore marches away to conquer other women’s hearts. 
Dr Dulcamara’s business flourishes after the success of the love juice. 
The culmination of the opera, in my humble opinion, is the performance of the extraordinary aria “Una Furtiva Lagrima”(“A secret tear”) in the second scene.
Everyone knows this aria. Two tenors – “The Matchless Singer” Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti made it famous worldwide. 
The aria, its words and transcendent music speak to the human soul. It creates tranquility – that exquisite moment when our hearts know that the person we love loves in return. The flash of discovery that we are loved. A heartbeat of relief, ecstasy and faith.
Music says it all. Magic!
The cast is outstanding. The star of the show is the American soprano Nadine Sierra as Adina. She has the complete package – brilliant voice, beautiful face and figure (especially legs) and is an excellent actress. 
The decor compliments the story but disappointment washes over me when I discover that the same decor was used for the production of the opera some years ago. We live in an era of recycling and economic crises.
The next morning my husband Adrian brings me my usual cup of black coffee in bed. 
The elixir of love works for us without fail. 
No secret tear though – big men don’t cry.