‘If it were I to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that- for that I would give everything.’ Oscar Wilde, ‘Portrait of Dorian Grey’
What would your life be like, if you knew it would never end? People have yearned for eternal life forever and fear death because it means the end to something.
How it would you feel if you had to go through life, constantly lying to people you cared about, not getting too close to people, running away from relationships, seeing your own children grow older? What if you would basically never be able to fully enjoy your life, just existing?
While I was searching for the inspiration for my new post, I realized that there are just so many books, movies, songs or artworks that put spotlight on the fascinating topic called ‘eternity’.
It’s almost like swimming in an endless ocean of question marks ‘what’s immortality’, ‘who wouldn’t like to live forever?’, ‘evanescence’, ‘how to deal with the passing time’?
As a passionate art detective and constant hunter of the new examples of exceptional and exquisite world’s art, I’ve noticed, that as far as my perception of the contemporary art is concerned, there are only few living artists that managed to deal with this challenging topic in a way that is disarmingly affecting. One of them was Jake Wood-Evans that I dedicated my previous post to.
Luckily, many of my questions with regards to ‘eternity’ were answered by the movie “The Age of Adeline” by Lee Toland Krieger, that I’ve seen recently on DVD. Believe me or not, but for some strange reason that movie has been waiting for me patiently in my night table, hidden under many books for almost 2 years.
(c) ‘Age Of Adeline’ 2015
As we are speaking of ‘living forever’, let’s have a closer look at what one would be up to if he or she had to leave behind people and things most loved and treasured.
Adeline, the main character from the movie is born as a new year is born. She gets married, has a child and loses her husband too early, as if this foreshadows her future experiences. One night, a cosmic combination of science and luck transforms her into a person who is guaranteed eternal life. It’s an interesting twist, but is it the best one for her. As we soon realize, she must change her lifestyle and abandon her loved ones.
(c) ‘Age Of Adeline’ 2015
Her new “lives” take her all over the world, as her spirit keeps her going, and she comes to realize that it is going to be pretty lonely for her as nobody else is like her and there is nobody who could truly understand her.
Adeline eventually meets the love of her life and makes a decision that will have interesting repercussions. As she begins a new phase and meets her boyfriend’s parents, she’s about to confront her past again and take steps to find a final solution to her dilemma. As the movie progresses you are starting to ask yourself a question – will she face reality or will she continue creating lies in order to survive? I don’t want to spoil the rest of the movie for you but I just want to say that, even though the film is most certainly not close to a masterpiece of cinematography – it is certainly worth seeing.
(c) Giovanni Winne, 2017
Now I’d like to share with you my observation. Namely, to me, the ‘visual arts cousins’ of ‘The Age of Adeline’ are portraits of Giovanni Winnie, the very talented Belgian painter who is living with his beautiful Love and Muse, Danielle Luinge in Zeirikzee ,the Netherlands.
(c) Giovanni Winne, Autoportrait, 2017
I called Giovanni a couple of weeks ago, as I needed to speak to about one artistic project I am currently busy with and after just few seconds of our conversation I knew for sure that the man with deep, ‘smoky’ voice is going to be next one to appear at Big Art Theory. When I looked up his landscapes and portraits available online, I was so immensly touched by the fact that his mind and soul were profoundly preoccupied with the topic of ‘eternity’, life and death, something that I was so curious to explore.
And here’s what I’ve found while studing the work of this Belgian artist. Giovanni, while portraying his models in his very ‘characteristic’ gloomy and dark way, challenges the viewer to look twice as if he had expected to see well in the darkness. He is timeless in his artistry, as the faces he portrays are neither ‘contemporary’ nor ‘from the past’ and cannot be placed within any particular ‘moment in time’. When you are looking at ‘the subject matter’ from Winnies paintings, you are wondering if they are a product of his fantasy, ghosts who came to life, a philosophical exercise, or a combination of them all?
There is one painting that caught my attention in a very special way, from the first moment I saw it at Giovanni’s Instagram profile. It was a portrait depicting his Muse and fellow-artists, Danielle Luinge.
(c) Giovanni Vinne, ‘Muse’
(c) ‘Age Of Adeline’ 2015
The painter, similarly to the director of ‘The Age of Adelaine’, did not only portray a poised and intriguingly restrained beauty (that according to some Facebook Fans of Giovannis art are ‘the most beautiful eyes of Netherlands’ and I can certainly agree with this statement), but more importantly a melancholy of a woman who lives with the mind and wisdom of an elderly woman trapped in a young body.
The onlooker does not just see a beautiful women – he or she immediately falls for the old soul. It’s charm and depth are a mystery that could never be unveiled. If you are looking for an eye candy only, you’d be disappointed. That’s not what the Belgian artists is after.
(c) Giovanni Winne, Atelier
There is absolutely no doubt that Winne sets the bar high. When you look at this models and muses, you start to notice that there is something unusual about their personalities. The experience is similar to the way you sometimes start to appreciate actors that you thought had no talent whatsoever, and then after many years you change your mind, seeing them starring in a movie directed by a smart and creative movie director that finally allowed the artists to speak with their real, own and truthful voice. So this is what Giovanni does to the people he portrays. His painting style elevates them to an icon level and that is what I found very fascinating.
According to me, the kind of art as presented in Giovanni Winne portraits, contains the bitter sweetness needed to move beyond the syrupy elements of many good hearted art, that very often is there to please the viewer, offering him or her nothing but an aesthetic delight only.
Looking at the artists creations make one hearken back to the beautiful muses from bygone eras such as ‘film noir’ times. I can imagine very well that if Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich lived in our times, they would undoubtedly want to try to contact the artists living in the Netherlands and ask him for a commissioned portrait – as it seems that he is one of the very few contemporary artists who possess the rare ability to show the striking beauty of ‘the dark hearts’ in an intriguing and unforgettable way.
Marlene Dietrich, Portrait, Private Collection
Greta Garbo, Portrait, Private Collection
Thinking of the passing time, the eternity, contemplating on the striking Giovanni Winnes portraits – I’ve realized it’s already almost midnight. My eyes felt suddenly very tired, but my ears were still hungry for one, particular song, that I listened to for the 7th or 8th time.
As the melody started to touch my heart once again, I felt enlightened and this felt so good and relaxing. For the first time this very old song by Frank Sinatra started to make sense to me like it has been written with me in mind.
After studying Winne’s portraits I finally learned that there a fourth dimension of reality, a space reserved for everybody who loves real art and knows how to appreciate it. A space where none of us will ever get old and where there is no time, no sorrow, where the past is equal to the present time and the future.
(c) Giovanni Winne, Atelier
A mysterious place where every year is ‘a very good year’. I am sure when you find that place (and I know that so many of you already did), there will be a lot of joy, happiness and just one, single thought crossing your mind: ‘home, sweet home’.
‘When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
Wed ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five’
Frank Sinatra, ‘A Very Good Year’, 1961