In my beginning is my end (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, East Coker, I)

Σάββατο, 31 Δεκεμβρίου, 2011

5th century BC

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

6th century AD

Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

16th century

Matthias Gruenewald, Die Stuppacher Mdonna

Tiziano: Salome con la testa di S. Giovanni Battista

16th – 17th century

Caravaggio, San Giovanni Battista

18th century

San Francisco Church, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil

Inside the Church of San Francisco in Salvador

19th century

Cezanne, Large Pine and Red Earth

Degas, The Millinery Shop

20th century and beyond

Nolde, Hermit on Tree

Freud's Couch, The Freud Museum, London, England

Helmut Newton

Maria Adair, Instalacao Ambiental

Elaine Roberts, Lotus Flower

Venice - my photo

Anselm Kiefer, Salt of the Earth

Boy - my photo

Thomas Schutte, Efficiency Men

Naoussa, Paros, Greece - my photo

Lefkes, Paros, Greece - my photo

Marpissa, Paros, Greece - my photo

The Earth of Marathon, Attica, Greece - my photo

T.S. Eliot - Four Quartets, East Coker, III


Happy New Year!!!

P.S. This came as a result of rediscovering X’s letter with the extensive quotation from Eliot’s poem «Four Quartets». The hand written page is hers.

Lunch of 26th December 2011 in Marathon, Attica, Greece

Δευτέρα, 26 Δεκεμβρίου, 2011

Sunrise of the 26th December 2011

The day of the 26th December 2011 is special. My best man «koumbaros» Manolis celebrates his name day. In addition, it is the anniversary of his wedding to my «koumbara» Marion. As it happens, this year it is the 20th anniversary of their marriage. One more reason to celebrate with a lunch that is a tribute to life and its enjoyment.

The first dish of the menu has a name that resounds with passion: «Besame Mucho». It is a new creation of my humble personality, invented in the middle of dark winter nights.

Raw Kokoretsi

The first ingredient of the dish is kokoretsi, lamb’s intestines wrapped around liver, heart, and sweetbreads of the lamb.

My butcher prepares them on 30 cm sticks. I bake them after I season them with coarse salt and black pepper.

Cooked kokoretsi

Once baked, I take them off the stick and cut them in small chunks. They are now ready to be served with the second ingredient of the dish, which is lentils.

Lentils – detail

I boil them with a lot of chunks of pickled celery root and leafs, carots, a bit of onion and a bit of garlic.

The first dish: Besame Mucho

I serve the lentils in the middle of the dish, and place the chunks of kokoretsi around it, with some fresh chopped home grown coriander and a few drops of vinegar.

After the enticing experience of «Besame Mucho», the palate needs a thorough cleaning.

Rucola outside my front door

This is accomplished by the green salad made with lettuce, spring onions, dill, coriander, and home grown rucola.

Ojos Verdes

Add a good olive oil, some lemon, and coarse salt, and you have one of the most refreshing and tasty salads in the world! I name this salad «Ojos Verdes».

And now to the second dish, as the ojos verdes were an interlude, albeit a very tasty and flavorful one!

This dish is the marriage of roasted piglet and mixed pickled cabbage, white and red, and bears the name «Love me tender, love me sweet».

Pickled cabbage

I prepare the pickled cabbage at home, and all I do after I Take out of the jar where it has been pickled, is to let it simmer gently for a couple of hours, adding a bit of olive oil.

Roasted Piglet

The piglet is roasted in the oven, with rosemary, coriander and garlic stems. I also add coarse salt and pepper.

Last but not least, the «breads» of the lunch. We had corn bread (in the upper half of the picture) and piroshki made of potatoes (the lower half of the picture).

Both were prepared by a good friend.

There was no room for anything after all this, but only for fresh fruits, apples and tangerines.

Many Happy returns dearest friends, and a Happy New Year to All!!!

Christmas eve of 2011: The Love of Greece

Σάββατο, 24 Δεκεμβρίου, 2011

Nah ist

Und schwer zu fassen der Gott.

Wo aber Gefahr ist, waechst

Das Retende auch.

Patmos, Friedrich Hoelderlin

God is near

Yet hard to seize.

Where there is danger,

The rescue grows as well.

(translation by Scott Horton)

Ειναι κοντα

Και δυσκολος να τον συλλαβεις ο Θεος.

Ομως εκει που ειναι ο κινδυνος,

Εκει και το σωτηριον φυεται.

(Πατμος, Φρηντριχ Χελντερλιν, Μεταφραση Στελλα Νικολουδη, Εκδοσεις ΑΓΡΑ)

Ὦ φιλτάτη πατρίς,
ὦ θαυμασία νῆσος,
Ζάκυνθε· σὺ μοῦ ἔδωκας
τὴν πνοήν, καὶ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος
τὰ χρυσὰ δῶρα!

(Ωδαι, Ανδρεα Καλβου, Ωδη Πρωτη, Ο Φιλοπατρις)

Ohh beloved motherland,

ohh wonderful island,

Zakinthos; you gave me

the breath, and Apollo’s

golden presents!

(Odes, Andreas Calvos, First Ode) 

(my translation)

Μέσα στις θαλασσινές σπηλιές
υπάρχει μια δίψα
υπάρχει μια αγάπη
υπάρχει μια έκσταση

(Γιωργος Σεφερης, Μεσα στις Θαλασσινες Σηλιες) 

Inside the sea caves

there is a thirst

there is a love

there is an ecstasis

(George Seferis, Nobel Laureate, Inside the Sea Caves)

(my translation)

The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,—
Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!

(Lord Byron, The Isles of Greece)

Τα νησια της Ελλαδας! Τα νησια της Ελλαδας!

Εκει που η φλεγομενη Σαπφω αγαπησε και τραγουδησε,

Εκει που μεγαλωσαν οι τεχνες του πολεμου και της ειρηνης,

Εκει που αναδυθηκαν η Δηλος και ο Φοιβος!

(Λορδος Βυρων, Τα νησια της Ελλαδας)

(δικη μου μεταφραση) 

Only through the experience of Delos did the journey to Greece became a sojourn, cleared dwelling by that which Αληθεια is.

 Delos itself is that field of unconcealed hiddenness that accords sojourn: first to φυσις, to the pure and self-sheltered rise of mountains and islands, sky and sea, plants and animals, the rise where each thing appears in its strict type but also in its gently suspended form.

In the sojourn granted by αλήθεια the έργον appears as well: everything that is made and built by human work.

In this granted sojourn, the mortals themselves appear and precisely as those who respond to the unconcealed, for they bring to their proper appearance that which becomes present in this or that matter.

(Martin Heidegger, Sojourns: the journey to Greece, translated by John Panteleimon Manoussakis)

In closing, I wish to all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2012 Year!

With the Love of Greece!

Κλεινοντας, σημερα, παραμονη Χριστουγεννων 2011 ευχομαι σε ολους Καλα Χριστουγεννα και ευτυχες το νεο Ετος 2012.

Με την Αγαπη της Ελλαδας!

Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas (The Letters of …)

Σάββατο, 17 Δεκεμβρίου, 2011

Today I travel to Mexico, to join the Great Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo. My aircraft is Martha Zamora’s compilation of Frida Kahlo’s letters, Cartas Apasionadas, published in 1995 by Chronicle Books in San Francisco, USA.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

The painter was born in 1907 in Coyoacan, a borough of the Federal District of Mexico City as Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón.

Frida Kahlo with drawn tears - Photo by Guillermo Kahlo, 1932

I started painting twelve years ago while I was recovering from an automobile accident that kept me in bed for nearly a year. In all these years, I’ve always worked with the spontaneous impulse of my feeling. I’ve never followed any school or anybody’s influence; I have never expected anything from my work but the satisfaction I could get from it by the very fact of painting and saying what I couldn’t say otherwise. (Letter to Carlos Chavez, 1939).

Frida Kahlo: Autorretrato con Collar de Espinas y Colibrí" ("Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Humming-bird").

In 1925 Frida has a horrible accident while riding a bus.

The only good thing is that I’m starting to get used to suffering. (Letter to Alejandro Gomez Arias, December 5, 1925).

Frida Kahlo: Frida and Diego Rivera, 1931

A short while ago, maybe a few days ago, I was a girl walking in a world of colors, of clear and tangible shapes. .. If you knew how terrible it is to attain knowledge all of a sudden – like lightning elucidating the earth! Now I live on a painful planet, transparent as ice…I grew old in a few instants and now everything is dull and flat. I know there is nothing behind; if there were something I would see it. (Letter to Alejandro Gomez Arias, September 1926).

Diego Rivera: Man masters the Elements

In 1929 Frida got married to the Mexican painter Diego Rivera. Their marriage hits the rocks quickly, as Diego is irreversibly unfaithfull. In 1934 Diego has an affair with Frida’s sister, Cristina. Frida is devastated.

Frida Kahlo - Photo by Nickolas Muray

First, it is a double disgrace, if I can explain it like that. You know better than anyone what Diego means to me in all senses, and on the other hand, she was the sister whom I loved the most and whom I tried to help as much as I could; that’s why the situation became horribly complicated and it is getting worse every day… My situation seems so ridiculous and stupid to me that you can’t imagine how I dislike and hate myself. I’ve lost my best years being supported by a man, doing nothing but what I thought would benefit and help him. I never thought about myself, and after six years, his answer is that fidelity is a bourgeois virtue and that it exists only to exploit (people) and to obtain an economic gain. (Letter to Ella and Bertram Wolfe, October 18, 1934).

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mask from Mexico

Even if we experience endless adventures, cracks in the doors, «mentions» of our mothers (the mentioning of one’s mother is considered to be very insulting in Mexico), and international complaints, don’t we always love each other? … All this anger has simply made me understand better that I love you more than my own skin, and that even though you don’t love me as much, you love me a little anyway – don’t you? If this is not true, I’ll always be hopeful that it could be, and that’s enough for me… Love me a little …. I adore you … Frieda (Letter to Diego Rivera, July 1935).

Frida Kahlo - Photo by Vicente Wolf

Diego has also been sick, but now he is almost well. He is working as usual, a lot and well. He is a little fatter; he is eating a lot and is as talkative as usual. He sleeps in the bathtub, reads the newspapers while on the toilet, and spends hours playing wiht Don Fulang Chang (pet monkey), for whom he already found a partner. (Letter to Ella Wolfe, 1938).

Diego Rivera: In the trenches - Photo by Tina Modotti)

Well child, let me thank you for your letter and for being so nice as to ask me about Diego’s shirts. I’m sorry for not being able to give you the sizes you asked for, but no matter how much I look inside the collar, I can’t even find a clue of what could be a number indicating the thickness of Don Diego Rivera y Barriento’s neck. So, I think it would be best to tell Martin to please buy six of the largest shirts that New York has, that is, if this letter gets to you in time, which I doubt very much. Get the kind (of shirts) that seem almost impossible to be made for a person, i.e the largest on this planet, commonly referred to as the Earth. (Letter to Ella Wolfe, 1938).

Frida Kahlo: Two nudes in the forest 1939

Now I will tell you some things about myself. I haven’t changed very much since you saw me last. Only I wear again my crazy mexican dress, my hair grew longer again, and I am as skinny as always. My character hasn’t changed either, I am as lazy as always, without enthusiasm for any thing, quite stupid, and damn sentimental, some times I think that this is bacause I am sick, but of course that is only a very good pretext. I could paint as long as long as I wish, I could read or study or do many things inspite  of my bad foot and other bad things, but, there is the point, I live on the air, accepting things as they come, without the minor effort to change them, and all day long I feel sleepy, tired and desperated. (Letter to Lucienne Bloch, February 1938).

Frida Kahlo: The broekn column 1944

My child, I really should not complain about anything that happens to me in life, so long as you love me and I love you. (This love) is so real and beautiful that it makes me forget even distance. .. I don’t have the words to describe how happy I am, knowing that you tried to make me happy and that you are so good and adorable… My lover, my heaven, my Nick, my life, my child, I adore you. .. Don’t make love to anyone, if you can help it. Do it only in case you find a real F. W. (fucking wonder), but don’t fall in love. .. Oh, my dear Nick, I adore you so much. I need you so much that that my heart burns. (Letter to Nickolas Muray, February 1939).

Excerpt from a Poem to Lina and Arcady Boytler

I am leaving my portrait to you

so you’ll have me in front of you

every day and every night

in which I am far away from you.

Sadness is portrayed

in my whole work,

but that’s my condition;

I am hopeless.

Frida Kahlo, 1941 - Photo by Emmy Lou Packard

Today’s post is food for the body and soul, images from Venice’s seafood market in Rialto.

Rialto Fishmarket in Venice

I love fishmarkets!!! As you can tell from a sequence of posts already dedicated to them!!!!

No words or explanations or arguments are necessary.

Red Mullets - Barboni - Μπαρμπουνια

Alici - Γαυρος

Sardines - Sarde - Σαρδελλες

Sardines - Sarde - Σαρδελλα φιλετο




Monkfish - Rana peskantrice - Πεσκανδριτσα


Eel - Anguila

Swordfish - Pesce Spada - Ξιφιας

Skate - Razza - Σαλαχι

Skate - Razza - Σαλαχι

Sole - Sogliola - Γλωσσα

San Pietro

Scorpion Fish - Scorfano - Σκορπινα


Scallops - Canestrelli - Χτενια

Scallops - Capesante - Κοχυλια του Αγιου Ιακωβου

Cuttlefish eggs - Latti di seppia - Αυγα σουπιας

Small cuttlefish - Seppioline - Σουπιτσες

Cuttlefish - Seppie Grosse - Σουπιες

Small Octopi - Folpi - Χταποδακια

Octopi - Piovra - Οκταποδες





Soft Venetian Crab


Squilla - Canocce

Donatello’s «The Penitent Mary Magdalene»

Κυριακή, 11 Δεκεμβρίου, 2011

Following the trail I started with Titian’s «Pieta», today I go a few years back to meet another Genius and Master, Donatello.

Donatello's statue outside the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

As I read in PBS’s web site:

«Donatello was not a popular person, but in his sculptures he managed to capture life itself. Every look and gesture was rich in humanity and personality. He was known to mutter “speak, damn you, speak!” at his figures as he worked.

In 1434, following his triumph over the enemies of the Medici, Cosimo requested a special commission from his friend. A statue of an Old Testament hero, symbolizing triumph against the odds. Donatello’s bronze “David” broke all the rules.

Donatello: Davis, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Firenze

A playful, sensuous, and androgynous hero, “David” was the first life-size nude to be cast in bronze since Classical times.

In the 1450s Donatello began work on a terrifying statue, the most vivid of his career. The “Penitent Mary Magdalen”, carved for the baptistry of Florence, is an eloquent vision of fear and decay, perhaps brought on by the realization of Donatello’s own mortality.»

( The material of the previous paragraphs comes from the web site of USA’s Public Broadcasting Service, PBS.)

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalene, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Firenze

From David to Mary Magdalen. It is a path of life.

Mary Magdalene has been the subject of many paintings and sculptures.

Titian: The Repentant Mary Magdalen

Titian has painted a portrait of Mary, which is in the Gallery of Palazzo Pitti, a few hundred meters away from Donatello’s sculpture, which is in the Duomo Museum of Florence.

What a contrast between Titian and Donatello’s interpretation! Is it only Titian portraying Mary as a young woman, repentant or not?

El Greco: Mary Magdalene in penitence

Not really. Look at El Greco’s interpretation. Mary is young, very young, beautiful, with long hair that envelopes her body.

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalen (detail)

The hair is the only common element between Titian’s and El Greco’s paintings and Donatello’s sculpture.

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalen (detail)

Donatello wanted Mary to be an old woman. A woman approaching the end of her life.

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalen (detail)

A woman whose face is pierced by the bones, whose eyes inhabit open dark holes, whose mouth is almost toothless.

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalen (detail)

Her hands are almost forming a prayer pair, but not so.  It is as if she was going to pray but she changed her mind as the hands were coming together, but not touching yet.

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalen (detail)

The aging woman is standing firmly on her feet. As disconcerting her hace and overall condition may be, she is standing with confidence and without any weakness. She is almost «relaxed» when it comes to her feet.

This in my view is the key to «reading» the work. Reading the body.

Donatello: The Penitent Mary Magdalen (detail)

As the eye travels from the face to the torso, the hands and then to the feet, the ambivalence of the artist manifests itself in a comprehensive way.

This ambivalence is the distinctive feature of the work, a feature that differentiates Donatello’s interpretation from Titian’s and El Greco’s.

In both paintings, Mary is a person wiht a clear attitude and stance in life. Repentant in Titian’s painting, full of devotion in El Greco’s.

But in Donatello’s sculpture, Mary may be skinny and appearing in a state of departure from the worldly affairs, but at the same time she is not fully wholy absorbed by her devotion or repentance. Her body language expresses ambivalence and the coexistence of the worldly stuff with the heavenly. This is what I find amazing in this work. Donatello either consciously or subconsciously is a Modern Master in this work, as he depicts Mary in the state of inner conflict, in the state of Being and Being Not.

What Donatello may have started as a work that would portray his fear of Death, his anguish of getting old, was transformed in the creative process to a work that is full of Life, as Life is ambivalence and contradiction and conflict.

One icy morning in December, I flew with Tarom Airlines, the Romanian National Carrier, from Bucharest’s Otopeni Airport to Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos. This is a sequence of images through the glass of the airplane’s window.

Temperature and weather conditions at the Ottopeni Airport, at the time of departure:  -1 C, clear skies, frost on the ground.

Otopeni Airport, de-icing the airplane

The airplane reequired de-icing due to the frosty conditions.

Otopeni Airport, Ground service personnel

Ground service personnel

Otopeni Airport, de-icing truck

The de-icing truck

Otopeni Airport, after the de-icing shower

At Otopeni, after the de-icing.

Taxiing at Otopeni Airport

Taxiing at Otopeni

Otopeni Airport, terminal building

A fuzzy view of the terminal building at Otopeni Airport

Airborne, over Romanian Land

Airborne, over Romanian land

Airborne, over Bulgarian mountains

Airbrone, over Bulgarian mountains (it is NOT the sea!)

Airborne, over Northern Greece

Airborne, over Northern Greece

Airborne, over Central Aegean Sea

Airborne, over Central Aegean Sea

Airborne, near Evoia

Airborne, near Evoia

Landed at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos


Flaps down and taxxing

Flaps down and taxiing

Weather conditions at the Athens Airport at the time of landing: clear skies, 10 C, dry conditions.

All photos were taken with my mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini. A handy and mighty device!