Thursday, March 27, 2008

La Vida Breve


I recently received a very nice message from Alfred Faltiska about this painting, La Vida Breve:

After a year of presenting contemporary painters on my site, after Jeremy Lipking, Anna Kryukova, Simon Balyon and all the other masters I had the pleasure to get to know, I still think La Vida Breve is the most beautiful painting I saw.

No, I didn't pay him to write that! Alfred featured my work on his very interesting blog last year, and has continued to spotlight a huge variety of artists. Thank you Alfred, and you've inspired me to create a post about the picture.

In 2006 I was approached by a couple who live in a fabulous National Historic Registry house in Baltimore. They had seen my painting Zarzuela and wanted to commission something similar for a large wall in their dining room. We agreed on the approximate size and shape, and then I began thinking about subject and reference material. I ended up in contact with the great Spanish flamenco dancer, Bettina Castaño, and used a photograph of her as the basis for the composition; the tortured pose appealed to me, and evokes the tension and drama of flamenco music. I invented the twirling disintegrating dress, the fan, and also came up with the background and the whippy lines (masked). I kept hearing Manuel de Falla's "Spanish Dance No. 1" from La Vida Breve as I painted it, and knew that had to be the title. Translated, it means "life is short" or "a brief life, " and perfectly describes the fleeting moment I was trying to capture.

The painting was delivered about five months later. The image is 30" x 60" and framed measures 40" x 70." Even I was impressed when I finally saw it hanging, surrounded by objects collected by this adventurous couple on their world travels. They are great people, wonderful patrons, and I hope I'll get a chance to do something for them again.

9 comments:

anonymous_chris said...

from the moment i saw a photograph of it, "la vida breve" instantly became my all time favorite simmons painting.

in fact it's in my all-time top 10. if i could ever find where i put my winter ski mask and gloves, i'd probably be tempted to go up there and ...

well - i'm no thief so - i'd probably get caught just sitting there at 3am gazing at it with a flashlight.

uhahhh... what a painting...

Dawn said...

My favorite from the start Nick, it is lovely.

Billie Crain said...

this is a very powerful painting indeed, Nick. your style really shined, creating all the passion and action this subject demanded. Bravo!

W. K. Moore said...

A frame on top of a terrific painting is a sight to behold. This painting really enhances their decor and livens the atmosphere to be sure. Nice to see people (some) with money still have good taste.. and promote living artists. I'll tell you some stories sometime about several Colombian bad guys and their taste in art.

Nick said...

Chris - you left a few zeros off that top 10. You're working on a major one yourself, how's it shaping up..don't make me come down there with the flashlight.

Dawn - if you like the ptg, I recommend digging up John Williams & Julian Bream playing this piece of music in duet....it's unforgettable.

Billie - hard to beat flamenco when it comes to passion...of course the greatest depiction of it has to be JSS's El Jaleo, reason enough to visit the Gardner museum in Boston.

Bill - not sure I wanna hear about those bad guys...I do want to hear about the good guys in Chicago, are you back?

Costescu said...

just beautiful! the tension in her face and the flow of the fan and dress awesome..and the colors...would love to see it in real life as well...now where is my flashight :)

PERUGINA ART said...

I've been away from you Blog for far too long... oh..time just gets away... very quickly had to write something

WOW...WOW...WOW... what a beautiful, fitting, elegant home your spectacular painting has found... looks a lot like our place!

I agree with what Bill said...(Hi Bill)
She's back... (insert roll eyes!)

Nick said...

Costescu - thanks for stopping by, and check out de Falla's Spanish Dance No. 1!

Perugina - as you know, there's nothing quite as inspiring as great music. Where's your flamenco series???

PERUGINA ART said...

Don't tempt me NNG!LOL