Anothet Mr. Blok (my own Mr. Blok).

November 30th – the end of the month and the end of many hours of work, sittings, and polishing my little Italian!

This year I chose not to make a case study of a person I know but of one I have only seen in town:  a friendly local chef working a door down the gallery.  His name is not Mr. Blok, neither his first name is Jozef.  Yet, you must wonder why I’ve called this piece “Another Mr. Blok,” and the answer to this question is the story behind this painting.

It was about 4 years ago when I became obsessed with the works of Van Gogh, one of my favorite painters.  I remembered I used to know only his later work:  the starry night, wheat fields, and sunflowers (dead and alive), and his self portraits – the famous Van Gogh’s ear.

Though Van Gogh’s work wasn’t always colorful.  In fact, his early work was gloomy, earthy toned, and on the dark side.  The first transitional – from dark to color- work, is a portrait not many of us know, yet of great significant:  Mr. Blok.  It is a portrait of a black bearded street book seller Van Gogh knew in The Hague.

Jozef Blok *drawing  *5-11-1882  *38.4 x 26.2 cm

It was 3 years ago when I discovered my own Mr. Blok here in Ascona:  a bearded local chef who used to pass by my window on his way to work.  I always wanted to ask him to sit for me but never really had the “nerve”to ask a stranger for such a strange request.  This year I finally did.  I was lucky he didn’t find it unusual to have an artist beg to paint a portrait of his.  He agreed.

“Another Mr. Blok” isn’t a study  of my subject or sitter, but of Van Gogh’s philosophy.  In his eyes, everyone – the postman, the bookseller, the doctor, the prostitute – were of equal value.  With this study, I too stand by this belief.  Not matter where one comes from, what title one holds, what one does…there is always a special story behind a face.

The evolution:

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My own Mr. Blok

It is once again, the time to make my annual portrait.  This year I wanted to make a study of someone whose face automatically transports me, no matter where I may be, to the core of the place I call home:  Ascona.

Without-further-ado, here is the beginning of a few sitting hours so far!

The first sketch.

The first sketch.

Watercolor try number one.

Watercolor try number one.

Portrait

I had just to make my last hair stroke on my new portrait painting to count the work as officially finished.  As imagined by friends and family alike, my portrait painting is not a self portrait, but a personal study of someone else’s life.  It’s a painting I’ve named:  ephemerality.  This word can describe every stage of the work, as with each brush stroke the image was transformed to a new “being,” or a more recognizable being.

The work itself is my own interpretation of the moment I was lucky to caught on my sitter.  The white background for me, represents her innocence and the purity of the image.  The white egg hanging from her ear lobe represents her fertility.  There is a ticking clock behind, in the background.  Unlike any other kid, this one is serious.  She’s aware, like myself, that time has tremendous powers and I, as an artist, am just an observant of ephemeral moments. Image

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