I was lucky enough to see the Michelangelo drawings on the last day, thanks to the kindness of a friend. The exhibition was packed as they tend to be these days, these drawings spanned Michelangelo's life and as I went round I was stuck by one aspect of his work, what seemed to be his striving to depict the spiritual, and what that did for his way of working.
There were some of his early male nudes, strong, active chalk and pencil marks,a facination with the body and it's movements. The amazing twists that Michelangelo puts the body in and the confidence of his mark making evoked an active energetic response from me.
Along side these types of drawings were some portraits, sensitive and much softer, and a number of religious studies that were less defined anatomically. The much later drawings of the crucifiction of Christ, including the final ones that Michelangelo made, were so different from his early male nudes that I might not have thought of them as being Michelangelos at all.
This is what made me start wondering about whether Michelangelo was seeking another way to depict the spiritual, the Divine in humankind. There are probably books already written on this matter, but I haven't seen them, nor am I particularly well up on knowledge about Michelangelo.
The problem I had with these Crucifixion drawings even though they were described as devotional drawings, was that I didn't think that Michelangelo had found as equally strong and vital way of working as he had for his human subjects. So was I criticising the great Michelangelo? I thought to myself. I suppose I was interested in just how difficult it is to try to depict the heavenly or Enlightened, as I in my much more limited way have been finding out.
It actually was quite moving to see the struggle in these final drawings and wonder what was going on in Michelangelo's mind at this time when he was nearing death.
Work in progress
I am still working on my Zodiac series of paintings, and trying to find a venue for the E17 Art Trail in September. I've had a few of my photographs blown up to poster size and that is quite exciting, seeing them much larger than usual. I'm hoping to get a show of them somewhere.