This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Muro dei cani

alassio-6It is not easy to paint the personality of a human from his or her face. It must be even more difficult to paint the personality of a dog, underneath the fur and fluff. And yet this unknown lovely artist did manage to trace the outline of over 300 unique furry persons, all lined up on a concrete wall by a park in Alassio.

The one in the middle looks like it is up to mischief only – and quite unlike any dog I have seen.

(Alassio, Italy; July 2018)


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On the wall in Alassio

alassio-5Jean Cocteau sure did love the Riviera. His self-portrait is on the Muretto wall by in Alassio, and he self-handedly painted an entire fishers’ chapel interior in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Cocteau’s portrait ended up on the brick wall in Alassio nearly 10 years after Hemingway’s autograph, though. The story goes that the local café keeper wanted to show off his famous visitors, and asked a few of them to sign a couple of colorful tiles. In the dark of the night they went up on the wall. When nobody complained, he kept adding more. Today the wall stretches across the entire train station square, with over 500 named tiles of visitors to the city; like a guest log  for “those that matter”. Who decides who matters is something I would like to know, as the famous jetsetters’ hangout Caffé Roma is long gone.
alassio-4(Alassio, Italy; July 2018)


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Interlude: moomins in hiding

moomin-2One bleak Saturday we stopped by at the Helsinki Art Museum’s permanent exhibition of Tove Jansson’s works. You know, the author and artist behind all things Moomin. There were two large frescoes, one showcasing a party on the countryside and another a party in the city. All very 1940s post-war joy. And then I saw a little moomin, hiding away behind flowers and a glass of champagne. Right there, in a quite seriously adult piece of art.

Turning to the mural Rest after Work, I discovered a little Sniff hiding behind some other flowers. There he was, probably resting after a day’s efforts of not having to work at all.

I am now convinced that Tove Jansson never knew how to be 100% serious about her work. Good on her. Delivering results does not mean kill your sense of humor. moomin-1(HAM, Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


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Wilde & Vilde

tartudec-12Being contemporaries, focused as much on style as on wit and critique of society, Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde could have met. But they never did. And so they were depicted having  a chat on a bench outside of a pub in Tartu. Oddly, I learned that the exact same piece stands (or sits) in Galway, Ireland.

What an unsettling thought: after you are dead and gone, somebody depicts you next to a person you never met nor knew, assuming there is a connection – and the rest of the world agrees.

(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)


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Ancient African art

twyfelfonteinThe Cro-Magnon people of Europe drew mammoths, deer, and moose. The San people of Africa made giraffes, oryxes, and wildebeest. Both depict hunts, hunted animals, and the styles are quite similar. If you look closely you can even see an animal with double sets of legs, like the one at Lascaux which is suspected to be like an animation of a walking animal when properly flashed with light. The Cro-Magnon people drew shamanic apparitions, as did the San people: if you look closely at the Twyfelfontein rock painting site you can find a lion with a deer-like animal in its jaws. The lion has a long, angled tail, with a pawprint at the end. As if from a trance dream.

The rock drawings of Twyfelfontein are similar to the ones in Lascaux. We people share a universal, collective mind, regardless of where in the world we live. Which drawings are older? The San people who drew the Twyfelfontein paintings are said to be the oldest original people of Africa, but these drawings are only about 2,000-6,000 years old; while the paintings in the Lascaux caves have survived 17,000 years. The oldest known rock art, in Indonesia, is dated 40,000 years back in time. On the one hand, the Twyfelfontein art is much younger. On the other hand, the Cro-Magnon people seem to have stopped making rock paintings some 10,000 years ago, while the San people did it until they were banished to the nearly rock-less Kalahari desert when farming became popular after Namibian independence.

Living prehistoric culture is unfortunately very easy to kill.

(Twyfelfontein, Namibia; July 2017)