Da Vinci – Il Genio, PART II

The Mona Lisa

Italian: La Gioconda, French: La Joconde

The Mona Lisa (c.1503–1517 ) by Leonardo da Vinci. Oil on poplar 77 cm x 53 cm
The Mona Lisa (c.1503–1517 ) by Leonardo da Vinci.
Oil on poplar
77 cm x 53 cm

The half-length portrait of a woman—thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo—now lays on permanent display at The Louvre museum in Paris and is the official property of the French Republic. The lady of mystery, wonder and beauty Mona Lisa is who I met last at the Da Vinci – The Genius exhibition. She is the highlight of the entire exhibition together with the revealing of the 25 secrets about her creation.

Thanks to Pascal Cotte and his self-invented 240 megapixel multispectral camera, we were able to see the exquisite feature of the Mona Lisa painting as it was before its damage and before its original colors faded away with time. I found out a few things about La Gioconda. Did you know that the feminine mystique had been stolen years ago? She was stolen for about two years before the real thief was discovered and at the time it was believed that she was lost forever. The Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia believed that the painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum.                                                            Other than that I found it interesting how Mona Lisa had no eyebrows or eyelashes. Rumor has it that Mona Lisa was a man or rather the self-portrait of Leonardo dressed as a woman. Although Cotte attempted to bring us insight into the making of the artwork there are still so many unanswered questions. The painting still remains an enigma to this day. I guess that is where her beauty lies-in her mystery.

 

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Da Vinci – Il Genio, PART I

 

Portrait of Leonardo by Melzi

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci. Ladies get excited.Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve heard that Italian men are the best lovers. The Italian Renaissance man was born April 15, 1452. His birthplace lies outside the small town of Vinci in the Italian region of Tuscany, Italy. I guess it is true then that all good things do come from Tuscany: friends, food, wine, beauty, Leonardo…

We all know Leonardo because of his beloved painting The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but what some of you may not know is that he also created the first ever conception of the flying machines (i.e. parachute and air balloon). See Leonardo believed that people could learn how to fly like birds. Sounds pazzo (crazy)right?! Talking about all things looney Da Vinci reminds me a bit about the Spanish romantic painter Goya {short for, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes} who lived through the 17 and 1800s. After Goya suffered through a physical and mental breakdown his paintings undertook a darker, more sinister subject matter. Everyone thought Goya had lost his marbles especially after he painted Yard with Lunatics (c.1794). He later made the painting Saturn devouring his sons (c.1819-1823) which is a rendition of a Greek myth about the Titan god Kronos of whom fearing the prophecy that he would be overthrown by one of his children, ate each one upon their birth. If you don’t know even the slightest bit about the myth go check out the movie Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013). The painting is not a painting for the fainthearted; it exhibits a sense of cannibalistic savagery and raises questions as to what was going through Goya’s mind when he painted the artwork. Paintings such as this remind me of the stories we used to tell each other when we were young about things that go bump bump in the night.

Anyway back to Da Vinci. He was, and is, famously known primarily as a painter but actually the Italian was a mastermind in diverse fields of the arts and sciences. He was a polymath, a painter, a sculptor, an engineer, an inventor, a writer, an anatomist, a botanist and a mathematician. Hmmm I believe the man ought to be dubbed Lord of the Arts or something after all he has contributed to society. Don’t you think?!

I had the privilege of attending the once in a life time Da Vinci – After Dark exhibition at the Chavonnes Battery Museum,  Clock Tower Square | V&A Waterfront. And oh what a wonder it was! The thing with me is that I am in a committed relationship with wine, cheese, food and the arts—in that particular order. The After dark exhibit was more of a special exhibition (hosted in the evening) where one could relish in a range of grade A wines from Groot Constantia, indulge in some very palatable cheeses and pairings, and learn about the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci as one leisurely walks around exhibition. Da Vinci – After Dark is an adults-only evening which is an ideal option for you and your partner to have a date night or to gather up some friends for an unforgettable night out. The evening charge was R200 per person rate, which includes entry to the exhibition, an audio guide, as well as the wine and cheese. Understand now why I didn’t mind popping out the R200 without even thinking twice about it. As I walked into the exhibition I was greeted by the portrait of Leonardo da Vinci made by Francesco Melzi (c.1510) and I had my moment to pay homage to the Italian artist.

Trust me when I say I got so emotional at the end of the evening that I just had to take a cab home. I don’t know if it was the wine or the artworks or an amalgam of both. And just like the other guests I found myself asking on my way home, how one man could possibly have fathomed and created such an array of remarkable Renaissance artworks as well as brought to life some of the unthinkable scientific inventions that we see today as normal items.

P.S. Be sure to check out part 2 and 3, to find out more about Da Vinci- The Genius.

The Vitruvian Man (c.1940) by Leonardo Da Vinci.  Pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper.  34.4 cm × 25.5 cm (13.5 in × 10.0)
The Vitruvian Man (c.1940) by Leonardo Da Vinci. Pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper. 34.4 cm × 25.5 cm
La Dama con l'Ermellino Lady with an Ermine (c.1489–90) by Leonardo da Vinci. Oil on wood panel. 54 cm × 39 cm.
La Dama con l’Ermellino
Lady with an Ermine (c. 1489–90) by Leonardo da Vinci.
Oil on wood panel.
54 cm × 39 cm.

Thursdays

 

First Thursdays. One does not think of food, wine, live music and art when one has the two words in mind. To so many people who live in or are visiting Cape Town, the first Thursday of every month passes by like any other day of the week to them. Little do they know that the day has been marked as a day to encounter great art and entertainment around the city blocks of the beloved Mother City.

On the first Thursday of every month of the year art galleries, shops and eateries in town stay open till late; the general public is then given the chance to visit exhibition spaces for free and to immerse themselves in their love of the arts, good food made with love and wines brought in straight from the farms of Stellenbosch. I would say that First Thursdays is one of those events people should add onto their social calendars and/or attend at least once in their lifetime. You can actually put someone who has at no time in the past or present showed up at any of the previous First Thursday events in league with a Capetonian who has never hiked up to the tip of Table Mountain.irst Thursdays. One does not think of food, wine, live music and art when one has the two words in mind. To so many people who live in or are visiting Cape Town, the first Thursday of every month passes by like any other day of the week to them. Little do they know that the day has been marked as a day to encounter great art and entertainment around the city blocks of the beloved Mother City.

First Thursday brings city dwellers and people from all walks of life together in celebration of the arts. This is an event that brings out to the surface art beginners, enthusiasts and art collectors alike out of the burrow they hide in throughout the rest of the month. The founder, Gareth Pearson wanted people to be able to take a walk around the artful side of the streets at night instead of having to take a bus, a bike or having to drive around in a car. I mean life for our current generation is a rat race so what better way to spend your leisure time than with friends, a glass of wine in hand and being in the presence of amazing artworks made by South African artists all at the same time.

And unlike Rocking the Daisies, First Thursdays is more than just about the rocking music and meeting new people and/or meeting up with great mates. It is a rare occasion when Cape Town lights up and comes alive in all its vibrancy. Besides it occurs on the first Thursdays of the month, hence the name, which is just a couple of days after month end and generally most people would have received their paychecks by then. So you do not have the excuse of saying that, I quote …but Lee I am so broke this month! I suggest, you grab your bestie or you can even go alone and head right on over to the next First Thursday event! It is a bit daunting at first being alone within the crowds filled with lovers, friends and families but making a friend essentially starts with a simple hello you know. I experienced my first First Thursday event alone so if I can do it then YOU can do it.

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Venue: Miscellaneous art galleries around Cape Town city centre

When: On the first Thursday of every month

Time: between 5pm and 9pm

Cost: Free

Email: goodevening@first-thursdays.co.za

http://www.first-thursdays.co.za