An Ode to Art

By Melinda Aissani

Its often said, together is better than being alone, but can this also be true when two come together as one? Let’s take the example of a reinvented pastry. The cronut is inspired by the doughnut and the croissant to become a new creation, a delicious one at that. It’s not uncommon to find reinterpreted works in the field of art; where two become one; a kind of ode to art if you like. With many collaborations and creations happening now, discover some new exhibitions where this is the very epi-centre.

Some poets like Baudelaire took inspiration from paintings to create their works, and this was the case in the poem Don Juan in Hell (Don Juan aux enfers) the fifteenth poem of the saga Spleen et Idéal by Charles Baudelaire published in the book “Les Fleurs du mal” in 1857.

Baudelaire extended the literary myth of Don Juan by choosing to tell his descent into the Greek Underworld, via poetry. The gloomy and fantastic atmosphere emerged from it. Inspired also by two paintings by Eugene Delacroix, “The Boat of Dante” and the other “The Shipwreck of Don Juan1”.

Both paintings took their inspiration from the original work of Don Juan. Molière’s classic tale of the Seducer of Seville is an uproariously funny story. Originated as a hero-villain of Spanish folk legend, he was a famous lover and scoundrel who has made more than a thousand sexual conquests.

Don Juan aux Enfers Les fleurs du mal

Apart from poets and painters, some film directors also have taken inspiration from books before these became blockbusters such as Forrest Gump, the GodFather, The Shining, Psycho, The Shawshank Redemption, Pride & Prejudice, The Great Gatsby and the unbeatable saga of Harry Potter.

When it comes to reading we are our own artists, because when participating in this action we create imagines in our brain of what we are reading.

Exhibition ‘Land of the Lotus Eaters’

For many of us when reading a story, we project ourselves into the fictional setting that the author describes or paint a picture in our mind’s eye of the character’s places or situations. Active participation, each mind continuously producing its own images; a sensory revelation that comes straight from our imagination.

However, some artists offer us art with their own interpretations of a poem or story via paintings prints photography and more. This is the coming together in many ways of two becoming one.

Several artists offered us works based on poems. For example, the new exhibition ‘Land of the Lotus Eaters’, by the Louise Alexander Gallery in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, runs from 2nd July to 4th September 2022 with a topic about the natural world and romance.

Several artists have collaborated on this exhibition. Find reinterpretation in all forms such as ceramics, textiles, and paintings, where the languid figures and soft landscapes contrast. Artists exhibited include, Alejandro Piñeiro Bello, Amy Bessone, Peter Böhnisch, Tim Ernst, Christina Forrer, Wolfgang, Cantor, Sky Glabush, Sophie von Hellermann, Uwe Henneken, Mary Herbert , mentalKLINIK, Ryan Mosley, JP Munro, Anya Paintsil, , Stefan Rinck ,Sophie Varin.

Exhibition ‘Land of the Lotus Eaters’

The gallery is in Sardinia, the location evokes Ancient Mediterranean mystical elements, for a symbolic and sensory journey of art.

Exhibition ‘Land of the Lotus Eaters’

Join Homer’s symbolic journey with the reinterpretation of the epic poem The Odyssey. Probably the greatest literary adventure, one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extended works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. The show contains a reimagined map through the rough seas of philosophical turmoil to the calm shores of Sophrosyne known to the Ancient Greeks as ‘the lucid mind’.

The goal is to illustrate by vividly transporting the reader on a grand journey across land, sea, and air while entwining a tapestry of mythologies, literature, and art history. The works presented in ‘Land of the Lotus-Eaters’ refer to the lure of relaxed island life, often at odds with the harsh landscape.

Exhibition ‘Land of the Lotus Eaters’

The Matisse Museum, a museum that is part of a major heritage site, the whole area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The latest exceptional collection is presented in a way that is chronologically and multidisciplinary. Sparking a dialogue between eras, techniques and civilisations. At the moment find a stunning and unprecedented conversation between artist David Hockney and Henri Matisse. Entitled ”Un Paradis retrouvé ” during the Biennale des arts de Nice. 

The exhibition brings together more than 70 works by David Hockney, from the 1960s to the present day, and a selection of works by Henri Matisse. the collection gathers Matisse’s artworks as paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and cut-outs, providing a comprehensive view of the work of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. This is a meeting of two artists reflecting back on each other’s works.

It focuses on the works of David Hockney but also the exhibition creates surprising echoes which show what the artists’ two worlds have in common. The same desire for colour can also be found everywhere in their art.

David Hockney and Henri Matisse Exhibition

Next up is the London Literature Festival, which includes poetry and literature events. This year the festival theme is climate change, headlined by Greta Thunberg, who brings the global exclusive launch of The Climate Book.

From 18 to 20 August, meet the performance ”You Know We Belong Together” a documentary-making and theatre play. Fusing theatre with documentary video, dance, painting and even palm-reading. Brought by Julia Hales, a theatre-maker and keynote speaker. She lives with Down’s Syndrome so she has dedicated her work based on creating opportunities for people living with a disability. The cast is made up of artists living with Down’s Syndrome who come to the stage to share the voice of a community rarely seen.

You Know We Belong Together

Also at London Literature Festival from 16 September find Teebs x LCO a performance fusing orchestral music with electronic. Working in unison with the London Contemporary Orchestra, electronic musician and painter Teebs lays down his delicately assembled, off-kilter beats. His style involves recording, layering, altering, and organising several sounds including, harps, shakers, drum taps, and even tape peelings.

Teebs x LCO

Finally from 6 to 8 October, find Manorism: An Adaptation by Yomi Ṣode. A performance piece by poet Yomi Ṣode. He extended his debut poetry collection Manorism, which explores family, survival, generational trauma and the complexities of the lives of Black British men and boys. Interpreted with live poetry, dance, projection and music.

Manorism, adaptation by Yomi Ṣode

Then, in the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall find two exhibitions:

On 29 September, is Out-Spoken, live poetry and music by musicians who use musicians segments with acclaimed poets performing spoken word. This September meet poet and novelist Helen Mort and Scotland’s national poet, Kathleen Jamie. 


And finally, on 30 October, find a new performance derived from Jay’s Poem Joint. Performed last year at London Literature Festival. This event was built from a work of poetry and developed into a performance piece by acclaimed poet Jay Bernard. The performance focuses on men’s rights. ways. 

Jay Bernard performance

Fashion is also another way, in which designers make fascinating collaborations. The photographic artist Thomas Paquet shows a new exhibition entitled Bleu Interlude, featuring the Soubacq, a French clothing brand. Open on Tuesday 17th to Saturday 27th of August in 18 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, 75004 Paris, France.

The exhibition focuses principally on clothes, with the collection of the gallery’s famous workwear, made with haute couture fabrics such as cotton velvet cold wool and even vinyl from the most prestigious companies. Made locally in Paris, these unisex and one-size-fits-clothes are presented in the exhibition as artworks in their own right.

Bleu Interlude exhibition

When it comes to the music industry, Harper Simons, an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer will release on the 23rd September 2022, his album and art book, entitled Meditations on Crime. In collaboration with 38 artists, all contributed across various media, to come up with a collective curated project that had political content.

An ambitious multi-media project and unusual concept focus on the apology of crimes. Meditations on Crime took inspiration from the turbulence of the 2016 presidential election year, combined with events in the UK and Europe. That’s how the ideas for the album came out.

Usually, romantic love songs are definitely the dominant mode of songwriting, but songs involving crime, and political songs have their importance in the music industry too. Songs like these engage topics related to murder and political protest. That’s why the album embodies the idea that crime is politics and politics is a crime.

“Everyone is fascinated by crime,”

Harper Simon

The album has many contributors including Julia Holter, Sun Ra Arkestra, Gang Gang Dance, King Khan, Animal Collective’s Geologist etc…

The Meditations on Crime book features eleven original pieces of writing, including essays, interviews and theoretical prose. Harper Simons has collaborated with such notables essayists as Miranda July, Hooman Majd, and Jerry Stahl alongside artwork from giants like Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Julian Schnabel, and Raymond Pettibon. The book forms a heavyweight companion piece to the eclectic nine-track album.

Meditations on Crime has a short trailer to precede the release of the full short film based on Okri’s essay, narrated by actress Katherine Waterston will be released in Autumn 2022. The Meditations on Crime gallery exhibitions and live performances are in the process of development. And for future projects, art exhibitions and charity concerts around the theme will probably be issued.

Getting to some exhibitions may be hard to experience this collective creative process, but a simple and possible local event would be literature Bookshop Day which is back on Saturday 8 October 2022. You can meet local artists, and many more virtually and in-person events. Such as Kamila Shamsie, Lenny Henry, Maggie O’Farrell, Juno Dawson, Lemn Sissay, Rev Richard Coles, and many more.

Find more information about the exhibitions below:

Bookshop Day, a literature local event where you can meet local artists

Jay’s Poem Joint performance at London Literature Festival

Out-Spoken, live poetry and music by musicians:

Manorism, a performance piece by poet Yomi Ṣode

Teebs x LCO is a performance fusing orchestral music with electronic

You Know We Belong Together, a documentary-making and theatre play

Land of the Lotus Eaters poem

Don Juan in Hell , Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du mal

The Matisse Museum, Un Paradis retrouvé exhibition

exhibition ‘Land of the Lotus Eaters’, issued by Louise Alexander Gallery in Porto Cervo, Sardinia

If you enjoyed An Ode to Art, be sure to read Check my Hair Out

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