During January and February of 2018, I worked intensely on a series of watercolor paintings to be shown as a part of the Coro Dante Art Song Salon, conceived and hosted by Arlinda Shtuni. The salon took place on February 19, 2018 at the Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts in Cambridge, MA, and featured performances ranging from the late-Renaissance frottole to the early 20th century works by Reynaldo Hahn, as well as a reading of poems written by Francesco Petrarca and Gabriele D’Annunzio, all on the topic of romantic love. My contribution was an exhibit titled “And From My Brief Dream The Eternal Sun,” featuring paintings directly inspired by a selection of the performed pieces and titled accordingly. Arlinda’s curatorial statement describes the spirit of the works.
And From My Brief Dream The Eternal Sun
“The genuine beauty of singing consists in the perfect union, an amalgam, a mysterious alloy of the signing and speaking voice, or to put it better, between the melody and the spoken word.”
–Reynaldo Hahn, Composer, Writer, Singer
And From My Brief Dream The Eternal Sun draws inspiration from the art song repertoire—a unique form in music. The art song condenses a world of expressiveness into brief moments of musical time. And it achieves this through two “mysterious alloys”—poetry and music; voice and instrument. And through this process, the art song creates a new sense of balance between words and music, a fresh expression of the sense of the words in and through the music.
It flourished during the late 19th and early 20th century, at a time when the distinction between music and the other arts was becoming blurred. Much like during the Renaissance–where the roots of the art song can be traced–in the Romantic period, the arts existed in concert, directly and indirectly influencing and reflecting each other. So, the art song befitted the spirit of its age, where artists were experimenting with a new synthetic experience of art and the material distinctions between word, image and sound were melting away. Poems and paintings turned to music, and music became paintings and poems.
And From My Brief Dream The Eternal Sun is a series of paintings conceived in this spirit. It registers the sensory effects of a set of art songs on the painting process. Prompted by the harmonies and modulations commingling in the songs, the artist, Kaća Bradonjić experiments with form and color, letting these suggest shapes and shades that resonate and clash with each other to produce visual “chords,” much like in the music.
From concrete allusions to obtuse abstractions, the paintings capture the inner landscape and emotional weather of these songs. The ethos of the Romantic period was to connect—with oneself, with nature, with a lover—which found ultimate expression in the idea of romantic love—often, the unrequited kind. The series considers love as a form of energy—whether harmonious or discordant, altering or changeless, flowing or frustrated—and as a way to connect with the ultimate source: one’s own creative spirit.