Agony in the Garden

Παρασκευή, 2 Απριλίου, 2010

“This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written:
‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed';
but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”

“Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

Jesus spent one night in the garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper and prior to his arrest by the mob.

He went there to pray accompanied by St. Peter, St. John and St. James.

Mosaic in San Marco, Venice (1200)

His state of mind was confused and ambivalent.

He prayed three times.

It appears to be a discussion with his Father, but it is in essence a discussion with himself.

Before committing to the Sacrifice.

Agony in the Garden refers to this state of mind.

Mosaic in San Marco, Venice (1200) – Detail

Jesus is sad and anxious.

He is not ready yet for the Sacrifice.

“My Father, let this Cup pass by me”.

Buoninsegna (1308)

Human, all too human!

This is the Greatest moment in the life of Jesus as a Human!

He openly admits that his desire for life is greater than his willingness to save humanity.

“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!”

Giovanni Bellini (1495)

He asked his pupils to stay awake and pray, but every time he checked up on them they were asleep.

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”

Andrea Mantegna (1460)

After his third prayer, he returned to his pupils and found them asleep again.
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

Boticcelli (1500)

“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”

Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.”

El Greco (1595)

“Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.”

El Greco (1608)

(All quotations from the Gospel by Mathew)

Women’s Day 8th March 2010

Δευτέρα, 8 Μαρτίου, 2010

Today is Women’s Day, and I felt it would be nice to share with you some pictures and images.

Many Happy Returns – Enjoy it!!!

Tracy Emin in a Vivienne Westwood frock, and her sardonic smile.

Paula Rego: Annunciation

Tracy Emin: Automatic Orgasm

Paula Rego: Rapariga com Gladiolos

Sarah Lucas: Beyond the pleasure principle

Paula Rego: Working girl in Boots

Gerhard Richter: Betty

Vivienne Westwood: clothing + Catwalk Manifesto

Paula Rego: The fitting

Gabrielle Chanel circa 1937

Paula Rego: Anjo

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo: Le Due Fride

Nikolaos Gizis: Mother

Gerhard Richter: Muter und Tochter

Giorgos Mavroides: Nude

Giorgos Mavroides: Nina

Nikolaos Gizis: Hellas

Remembering Eugene Ionesco (Eugen Ionescu)

Σάββατο, 6 Μαρτίου, 2010

“Explanation separates us from


which is the only gateway

to the incomprehensible”

Bold Soprano Graphic by Massin (1964)

This is what my friend Ana wrote on the back of a post card she brought me from Paris, where she spent some of her holidays.  Ana is Romanian and Ionesco is dear in her heart. This event lead me to write this post, remembering the great writer and man.

Ionesco’s first play is “The Bald Soprano”, which he wrote when he was learning English.

In ”The Bald Soprano,” which the author labels ”an anti-play,” he assails the craze for conformity that he found ingrained in our society. As he made clear, the play is intended not as a satire on bourgeois English life, but as a play about language and ”a parody of human behavior and therefore a parody of theater, too.” It is also, the author said, ”a completely unserious play.” In that respect, Ionesco was, of course, being ingenuous.

Though the surface is light spirited, the play has a cosmic awareness of how man debases – and defeats -himself, often through his choice of words. The play has not aged. One might even suggest that we have caught up with ”The Bald Soprano,” living, as we do, in a computerized world where information is byte-sized and news becomes photogenic.

(NY Times Theater Review)

Ionesco himself reminisces:

“A strange phenomenon took place. I don’t know how—the text began imperceptibly to change before my eyes. The very simple, luminously clear statements I had copied so diligently into my notebook, left to themselves, fermented after a while, lost their original identity, expanded and overflowed. The clichés and truisms of the conversation primer, which had once made sense [...] gave way to pseudo-clichés and pseudo-truisms; these disintegrated into wild caricature and parody, and in the end language disintegrated into disjointed fragments of words.

Looking back

Before the Bald Soprano, which appeared in 1950, we had the Absurd expressed in literature by the existentialists

Nausea by JP Sartre

The Outsider by Albert Camus

Looking forward

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter

”Who Needs Theater Anymore?” – Mr. Ionesco’s answer is simple: ”Tout le monde.”

”People have needed the theater for thousands of years,” he said. ”There’s no reason for this to change.” But why do they need theater? ”For nothing,” he said. ”The theater is useless, but its uselessness is indispensable. Why do people need football? What purpose is there?”

”Theater doesn’t exist at the moment,” he said, through a translator, in his suite at a midtown hotel. ”It’s bad everywhere. Between 1950 and 1960 it was good. Beckett, Genet, Adamov, moi. It was theater where you posed a problem, the most important problem of all: the problem of the existential condition of man – his despair, the tragedy of his destiny, the ridiculousness of his destiny, the absurdity of his destiny. Another interesting problem is the existence of a God, a divinity, as Beckett writes about in ‘Waiting for Godot.’ Man without God, without the metaphysical, without transcendence, is lost.” ‘Everything Is Invention’

Mr. Ionesco has long criticized the American realistic, or naturalistic, theater as naive and simple-minded. ”Realism does not exist,” he said. ”Everything is invention. Even realism is invented. Reality is not realistic. It’s another school of theater, a style.”

He paused and smiled. ”What is real, after all?” he said. ”Ask one of the most important geniuses of science, physics or mathematics. He will not be able to give a definition of real. The only reality is that which comes from inside – the unconscious, the irrational, our thoughts, images, symbols. They are all truer than the truth, than realism.”

(NY Times Article: Eugen Ionesco in Defense of the Absurd, 1988)


alienation, paranoia, absurd, double origin, proliferation


Ionesco’s Grave in Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France

The inscription reads:

“Pray to the I do not know Who

I hope Jesus Christ”


This is the first post in a series of posts on Real Greece,. The events of the last few months have shed a very negative light on Greece, and I feel the need to  share with you the “real” Greece, which is the Greece I know.

Today I present sculptures made by Cy Twombly, an American artist who I like very much. The sculptures are named “Thermopylae”, after the narrow passage where the Greeks fought the Persions back in 480 BC, and are paired with the poem of Constantinos Kavafis.

The bronze sculpture is on display at the Brandhorst museum in Munich, Germany.

There is also a sibling plaster sculpture, on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

I quote from Jessica Stewart’s text:

The work is inscribed with lines from modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, who was similarly inspired by the illustrious battle. Twombly often makes bronzes of his “white originals,” and particularly in its cast rendition Thermopylae relates closely to a fifth-century BC battle helmet. The mounded dome from which four tulips rise calls to mind another ancient association, an Etruscan tomb with burgeoning vegetation.

spacer As poet and critic Frank O’Hara suggested in 1955, Twombly’s sculptures are both “witty and funereal”; they are also elegant and coarse, fragile and monumental, visual and literary, and above all, ancient and contemporary. Metamorphosis is an essential aspect of Twombly’s works, and these dualities highlight the depths of meaning contained in their often quotidian forms. Twombly’s spare wooden constructions–or their bronze surrogates–distill archaic sources and present them in a uniquely modern language of form.”


Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard

Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae,
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they’re rich, an when they’re
still generous is small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.
And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee )
that Ephialtis wil turn up in the end,
that the Medes will break through after all.

Costantinos Kavafis

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Κυριακή, 14 Φεβρουαρίου, 2010

To the Women

"Poppy" Georgia O'Keefe

and Men on Earth and beyond,

I wish the happiest Valentine’s Day

Love is a hard, difficult thing

Tracey Amin

Our life is full of promises

Suffering is the bread if love is the butter

And it usually starts very differently

Tracey Amin

“When everything has been said,

when everything has been done,

just remember

I never stopped

loving you”

"Porchsester Baths" Tracey Amin 1988

Paradise is lost….

"Paradise Lost" Emil Nolde

……. but there is nothing more comforting than a kiss…

Roy Lichtenstein

…and a walk to the seashore

"By the Seashore" Emil Nolde

Happy Valentine’s!

Tears: the liquid essense of psyche?

Δευτέρα, 18 Ιανουαρίου, 2010

- Ψυχηισιν θανατος υδωρ γενεσθαι,
υδατι δε θανατος γην γενεσθαι,
εκ γης δε υδωρ γινεται,
εξ υδατος δε ψυχή -


“When the soul dies, it becomes water,

when water dies, it becomes earth,

and the earth makes the water,

and the water makes the soul”


(5th century BC Presocratic Greek Philosopher)

Una furtiva lagrima (A furtive tear)

One furtive secret tear
from her eyes did spring:
as if those youths who can be playful
it ( or she ) seemed to be envious of.
What more searching do I want?
What more searching do I want?
She loves me! Yes, she loves me, I see it. I see it.
Just for an instant the beats
of her beautiful heart if I could feel!
My sighs if they were mingled
for a while with her sighs!
The beats, the beats of her heart if I could feel,
to fuse my sighs with hers…
Heavens! Yes, I could die!
I ask for nothing more, nothing.
Oh, heavens! Yes, I could, I could die!
I ask for nothing more, nothing.
Yes, I could die! Yes, I could die of love.

Una furtiva lagrima (A furtive tear) is the romanza taken from Act II, Scene VIII of the Italian opera, L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti. It is sung by Nemorino (tenor) when he finds that the love potion he bought to win his dream lady’s heart, Adina, works.

Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she isn’t interested in a relationship with an innocent, rustic man. To win her heart, Nemorino buys a “love potion” with all the money he has in his pocket. The “love potion” is actually a cheap red wine sold by a traveling con man. But when he sees Adina weeping, he knows that she has fallen in love with him and the “Elixir” works. (Source: Wikipedia)

Here is Roberto Villazon, in the role of Nemorino, singing the famous romanza from Donizetti’s L’ Elisir d’ amore , with the Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, Alfred Eschwe conducting.

Vesti la giubba (Put on the costume)!

To act! While out of my mind,
I no longer know what I say,
or what I do!
And yet it’s necessary… make an effort!
Bah! Are you not a man?
You are Pagliaccio!

Put on your costume,
powder your face.
The people pay to be here, and they want to laugh.
And if Harlequin shall steal your Columbine,
laugh, Pagliaccio, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face – Ah!

Laugh, Pagliaccio,
at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!

Vesti la giubba (Put on the costume) is a famous tenor aria performed as part of the opera Pagliacci, written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo, and first performed in 1892.

Vesti la giubba is the conclusion of the first act, when Canio discovers his wife’s infidelity, but must nevertheless prepare for his performance as Pagliaccio the clown because ‘the show must go on‘.

The aria is often regarded as one of the most moving in the operatic repertoire of the time. The pain of Canio is portrayed in the aria and exemplifies the entire notion of the ‘tragic clown': smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. This is still displayed today as the clown motif often features the painted on tear running down the cheek of the performer. (Source: Wikipedia)

The great Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling sings the aria in a performance of 1953.

W.A. Mozart: Requiem – Lacrimosa

Lacrimosa dies illa
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem. Amen

Tearful that day,
on which will rise from ashes
guilty man for judgment.
So have mercy, O Lord, on this man.
Compassionate Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.

In the video John Eliot Gardiner conducts the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir. This performance was filmed at the Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona in Dec. 1991. It starts with “confutatis” and continues with the “lacrimosa”.

Credit: I thank Manolis for contributing the Heraclitus quotation, in addition to his endless stream of comments, thoughts and ideas.

Greek Folk Songs of Love – Διστιχα της Αγαπης

Παρασκευή, 1 Ιανουαρίου, 2010

Μια και το πιο σπουδαιο, το πιο υπεροχο, το πιο δυσκολο στη ζωη ειναι η Αγαπη, ξεκινω το 2010 με διστιχα της Αγαπης, απο τη Συλλογη Ελληνικων Δημοτικων Τραγουδιων του Φοριελ (Πανεπιστημιακες Εκδοσεις Κρητης 1999). Καλη Χρονια και με Αγαπη!

Ω, Παναγια μου Δεσποινα, βαρια που ειν’η αγαπη!

Μηδε ο τοπος με χωρει, μηδ’ ολο το σοκακι.

Για μαυρα ματια χανομαι, για μπιρμπιλια πεθαινω,

γι’ αυτα τα καταγαλανα σκαπτω την γην και μπαινω.

Τις ειδεν ψαρι στο βουνον, την θαλασααν σπαρμενην;

Τις ειδεν εις τετοιον καιρον αγαπη εμπιστευμενην;

Τι αδικια εις εμε, ματακια μου και φως μου

ολοι αγαπουνε την ζωην, κι εγω τον θανατον μου.

Μαυρα μαλλια στην κεφαλη, στες πλατες ξαπλωμενα,

αγγελοι τα κτενιζουνε, με διαμαντενια κτενια.

Να χαμηλωναν τα βουνα, να’ βλεπα το Μισιρι,

να’ βλεπα το πουλακι μου, με ποιονα τρωει και πινει.

Ας ητο τροπος ματια μου το χερι σου να κρατουν,

κι ευθυς ας με περεχυνε ο ιδρως του θανατου.

Απο τα γλυκα σου ματια, τρεχει αθανατο νερο,

και σε γυρεψα λιγακι, και δεν μοδωσες να πιω.

Μια ψυχη χωρις το σωμα, πια να ζησει δεν μπορει,

και πως εζησα ως τωρα, το θαυμαζω κι απορω.

Τηρα με πως εγινηκα, μαυρος σαν τον αραπη,

δεν ειμ’ απο την Αραπια, μον’ ειμ’ απ’ την αγαπη.

A Kiss is just a kiss, or is it something else?

Πέμπτη, 3 Δεκεμβρίου, 2009

The question of the title is not rhetorical. The kiss is one of the vehicles to supercede one’s one material existence and attempt the ultimate, which is the submersion into another body, thus abolishing one’s own existence.

The two lovers embrace and they momentarily forget their fatal destiny. Cold as the marble they inhabit. They embrace, but they stay apart.

The man wears a crown of vines, and the woman flowers in her hair. They are oblivious to the fact that they are on the edge.  They are content and harmonious.

A kiss may last for fractions of a second, but then also for centuries.

The couple embrace almost in depseration. Their bodies touch and tangle. There is no time to waste. Passion overflows the carnal vessels.

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh…
The fundamental things apply,
As time goes by.

And when two lovers woo,
They still say I love you
On that you can rely…
No matter what the future brings,
As time goes by.

And time goes by and before you know it, you feel the cold wind on your back and the dark shadow enveloping you, and you embrace the beloved one, and you seek in her mouth the taste of youth and the aroma of ever lasting passion.

Ravenna! The Italian jewel of Byzantium – Part I: San Vitale

Δευτέρα, 21 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2009

Today I visit Ravenna, a sleepy small town near the Adriatic Coast. Ravenna became the seat of Byzantine government in Italy in the sixth century (540), and remained so until 751, when the Lombards took it.

What makes Ravenna unique is the Byzantine treasures that have survived over the centuries and carefully been restored, the mosaics that adourn so many churches and monuments.

In this first part I present some of the highlights of the beautiful Church of San Vitale. The church was built in the middle of the sixth century and is the only church from the period of Emperor Justinian, that has survived the centuries.

justinian In one of the spectacular panels of the church, the Emperor who made Ravenna the capital of Byzantium in the West is seen with his entourage and Bishop Maximian.

panel_justinianThe Church was dedicated to Bishop Maximian in 547 and he is the nly named figure in the panel.

maximianIn another panel, we see a young, beardless Christ

face1giving the crown of martyrdom to St. Vitalis, while Bishop Exxlesius is presenting a model of the Church. Ecclesius was the Bishop who started the building of the Chuch in 526.

major1The representation of Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God is stunning.Agnus Dei is the allegorical representation of the “Sacrifice” of Christ.


Agnus Dei is positioned directly above the altar.


over1The mosais on the Arches are by themselves masterpieces.

saviourWhat a wonsderful depiction of our Saviour! Encircled by four dolphins!

decorativeThis decorative detail is the best testimony to the absolute glory of the church’s mosaics.

empressEmpress Theodora and her friends.

inside1The church is full of symbolic images, figures and episodes from the Testament.

inside2Abel and Melchizedek.

inside3San Vitale is a treasure that cannot be exhaused easily. I feel I need to go back again and again. Same feeling I had in Moni Choras.

Van Gogh in Provence – Part II: Saint Remy de Provence

Τετάρτη, 16 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2009

Today I continue with my two part article on van Gogh’s stay in Provence. The second part covers the period he stayed in Saint Remy de Provence. Van Gogh was admitted to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Remy de Provence in May 1889. Saint Remy is a sleepy village 15 kilometers away from Arles. Upon my arrival I realized that there is a fully functioning mental hospital in the premises of the old asylum. Access to the premises is restricted, so no luck there. However, in a nearby building complex, that is more or less as it were 150 years ago, I found an environment and aura that trully moved me.

statueVincent van Gogh was a very sick man when he was admitted to the asylum. He confessed to his brother Theo immediately after his admition that he is “a broken pitcher”.

maison_de_santeI have read contradictory statements regarding the professionalism of the asylum in treating the mentally sick. In any case, I saw the regular instrument, the bathtub with its cover so that the patient (or victim) would be unable to free himself from the tubwith only the head and the palms sticking out.

bathtubsWhatever the case, another sure sign of the restrictions was the window. A window with iron bars.

window_with_barsThe bedroom is spartan, in many ways reminiscent of the Arles painting.

bedroomThe bed is different, but the chair and the aura is the same. As as the aura of the corridor, simple, frigid and leading to eternal emptiness.

corridorIt is not coincidentalcorridor_guache that the patient wanted to paint the corridor.

Antd then there is the external world. The opening, the exit, the escape, only to return more intensely to the dark interior.

exitIt is nice to be outside the confined space.

buildingDuring the day…

wheatfieldsand during the night …

gogh.starry-nightyou even have the chance to lay your eyes on a human being…

428px-VincentVanGoghDieArlesierin1890in your memories that haunt you… but prisoners always return to their inner yard

477px-Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_037and pray for the sower to come ….

The_SowerVan Gogh was not cured in the asylum and in less than one year’s period, moved north, to a small town near Paris, where he was to meet the Redeemer.


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