Svalbard Arctic tern, making of a woodcut

This October 2018 video is about the making of a woodcut depicting an Arctic tern in the Svalbard archipelago, by Dutch visual artist Erik van Ommen.

Dragonfly larvae, beautiful new book

Damselflies, by Paul Andre Robert

From KNNV publishers in the Netherlands:

Les larves de libellules de Paul-André Robert | Die Libellenlarven von Paul-André Robert

Author: Christophe Brochard | Paul-André Robert
Price: € 89,95

Paul-André Robert (1901-1977) was a Swiss artist and naturalist. In Europe Robert is best known for his book Les Libellules (‘Dragonflies’), which appeared in 1958. Less well-known is the fact that Robert began to work on a monumental monograph on European dragonfly larvae at the age of sixteen. Producing the manuscript, containing text as well as illustrations, consumed most of his life and was only just completed at the time of his death.

This magnificent work remained unpublished until now. This book finally presents Robert’s 107 watercolour illustrations of dragonfly larvae, all in their original size and of unparalleled beauty and scientific precision. In addition, the book features his numerous line drawings and pencil sketches of morphological details, descriptions of species and an identification key.

This book, which is bilingual (French and German), is a unique combination of art and science. It is an invaluable resource for entomology professionals and a significant collector’s item for admirers of high-quality entomological books. It is also a stunning piece of artwork that will please anyone with an interest in natural history, realistic art and illustration.

As an honorary tribute to Robert, an international team of dragonfly experts added an extensive introduction to the book.

ISBN: 9789050116831
Edition: 1
Pages: 320
Size: 22 x 28 cm
full colour, hardcover

Variable damselfly larvae, by Paul-André Robert

This picture by Paul-André Robert shows variable damselfly larvae.

World’s oldest figurative art discovery in Indonesia

This 9 October 2014 video says about itself:

World’s oldest cave paintings from 40,000 years ago discovered in Indonesia

Scientists have calculated that ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are at least as old as prehistoric art in Europe, laying to rest the idea that a human creativity was first born on the western continent.

Using uranium decay levels, scientists concluded that the drawings were made 35,000-40,000 years ago, roughly the same period as drawings found in Spain and France.

One Asian handprint is the oldest on record at 39,000-years-old. Archaeologists estimated the age of a dozen stencils of hands in mulberry red and two detailed drawings of an animal described as a “pig-deer“.

The Indonesian cave drawings are part of more 100 pieces of art in Sulawesi, southeast of Borneo.

From Nature today:

Palaeolithic cave art in Borneo


Figurative cave paintings from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi date to at least 35,000 years ago (ka) and hand-stencil art from the same region has a minimum date of 40 ka1.

Here we show that similar rock art was created during essentially the same time period on the adjacent island of Borneo. Uranium-series analysis of calcium carbonate deposits that overlie a large reddish-orange figurative painting of an animal at Lubang Jeriji Saléh—a limestone cave in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo—yielded a minimum date of 40 ka, which to our knowledge is currently the oldest date for figurative artwork from anywhere in the world.

In addition, two reddish-orange-coloured hand stencils from the same site each yielded a minimum uranium-series date of 37.2 ka, and a third hand stencil of the same hue has a maximum date of 51.8 ka.

We also obtained uranium-series determinations for cave art motifs from Lubang Jeriji Saléh and three other East Kalimantan karst caves, which enable us to constrain the chronology of a distinct younger phase of Pleistocene rock art production in this region. Dark-purple hand stencils, some of which are decorated with intricate motifs, date to about 21–20 ka and a rare Pleistocene depiction of a human figure—also coloured dark purple—has a minimum date of 13.6 ka.

Our findings show that cave painting appeared in eastern Borneo between 52 and 40 ka and that a new style of parietal art arose during the Last Glacial Maximum. It is now evident that a major Palaeolithic cave art province existed in the eastern extremity of continental Eurasia and in adjacent Wallacea from at least 40 ka until the Last Glacial Maximum, which has implications for understanding how early rock art traditions emerged, developed and spread in Pleistocene Southeast Asia and further afield.

Like Europe, Borneo hosted Stone Age cave artists: here.

Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray on stage

This BBC video is called The Picture of Dorian Gray 1976 – Oscar Wilde.

It says about itself:

In Victorian England, handsome Dorian Gray (Peter Firth) makes a Faustian deal that his portrait painted by Basil Hallward (Jeremy Brett) will age while he remains young.

Irish socialist author Oscar Wilde is well known for having been cruelly punished for being gay and for his plays.

On 6 November 2018, I went to see the play Dorian, based on Oscar Wilde, in Leiden, the Netherlands. Wilde wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray not as a play, but as a novel.

This Dutch 2018 trailer video of this play, by the Noord Nederlands Toneel (NNT) says about itself (translated):

Some 125 years after the publication of Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, our obsession with youthfulness and the feeling that you must have taken everything out of your life have only increased.

With these questions as a starting point, Javier Barcala wrote a stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel for the Noord Nederlands Toneel. Barcala places Dorian in the background of the contemporary art market, a familiar world for guest director Christophe Coppens.

The Belgian multitalent Coppens was trained as a theater maker, but broke through as a designer and visual artist. Previously, pop stars such as Rihanna, Grace Jones, Scissor Sisters and especially Róisín Murphy walked in his creations. And now NNT actress Bien de Moor shines in his artworks.

This 2018 NNT video says about itself (translated):

Some 125 years after the publication of Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, our obsession with youthfulness and the feeling that you must have taken everything out of your life have only increased. But do we not lose sight of ourselves in the desire for the new, the beautiful and the special? And if we are busy all the time with our personal development, what does that mean for our relationship with others?

Leading actor Bram van der Heijden and artistic director of the NNT Guy Weizman tell us what the performance is about for them.

This in another 2018 NNT teaser video about the play.

This October 2018 video is an interview with Akim Moiseenkov, who composed music for the NNT play.

More about the play is here.

In Wilde’s novel, the young man Dorian Gray indulges in beauty and individualistic pleasure-seeking in such an extreme way that he causes other people’s deaths: by murder, or by driving them to suicide. Also indirectly, as a hunter mistakenly shoots an antagonist of Gray. Wilde did not like fox hunting; he called it: ‘The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable’.

Dorian does not age visibly, even as he gets older and commits crimes. The aging and the crimes become visible only on Dorian’s portrait, which gets uglier and uglier.

Ultimately, Dorian attacks the picture with a knife. In that way, he kills himself; as the picture reverts to its youthful original state.

There are many differences between Dorian in Wilde’s book and in the NNT play. In the play, Dorian’s real name is Igor, getting called ‘Dorian Gray’ only later.

Wilde describes Dorian as from a well to do family, while Igor in the play is from a poor background.

Wilde’s Dorian is not an artist, while the NNT’s Igor is an art student and later a famous artist.

In the novel, the gay painter Basil Hallward, who is in love with Dorian, paints the portrait. In the play, female visual artist Ava Ravenstein does that.

In the novel, Lord Henry Wotton pushes Dorian onto the ruinous road of self-indulgence. In the play, rich art collector Ms Bambi Pelecano (by actress Bien de Moor) plays that role, becoming Igor’s manager, renaming him and pushing him into her art market world where only superficiality, fame and money count.

Though both director Christophe Coppens and playwright Javier Barcala are gay and have a same-sex relationship, there are less allusions to homosexuality in the play than in Wilde’s text.

In the novel, Dorian’s self-indulgence causes quite some deaths. In the play only one, until just before the end. The death of Dorian’s/Igor’s girlfriend: actress Sibyl according to Wilde, singer Rebeka according to Barcala.

Then, in the penultimate scene, Igor/Dorian attacks the portrait. With a gun, unlike the knife in the novel, but still killing himself.

In the final scene, manager Bambi Pelecano is interviewed on the now dead Dorian. She does not really want to talk about him anymore, falsely pretending she hardly knew him. According to Ms Pelecano, the interview should instead be about her latest discovery, some really hip and trendy artist.

The audience liked the play, giving it a standing ovation at the end.