Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Arab Guard

Portrayals of Arab guards are a staple of Orientalist painting. Kristian Davies, author of The Orientalists, wrote, “a theme grew within Orientalism of depicting guards and sentries dressed in the traditional medieval regalia of the Islamic warrior.”

Austrian painter Ludwig Deutsch (1855-1935) painted A Palace Guard in 1892.

The archetype still exists today, though modern guards lack the colorful garb. Deep in the labyrinth of the medina of Fes, Morocco, I met a man named Hassan whose job was to stand watch over the doorway of an antique store.

He patiently posed for me while I drew his features in brown and black water-soluble colored pencils. (Photo ADF)
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More on Ludwig Deutsch, at Art Renewal Center, and a Ludwig Deutsch blog by Enzie Shahmiri, who has commented on this blog.

11 comments:

Jasons-Brush said...

James,

these portraits you've been doing are real treasures. I envy the people who get to see your sketchbooks and your finished work in person.

Best Jason

Super Wu-Man said...

great painting!

your 2d traditional skills are super strong, i wonder if you consider or already work in digital programs such as photoshop or illustrator?

i wonder if you have seen any digital work done with programes like painter that you know can not be produced through traditional painting (for example a lot of the glow and light options in digital painting programs that may be ver difficult to achive through the normal painting process) and has that persuaded you to consider working in digital 2d programs?

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Jason. Folks should check out Jason's blog, where he's been doing a lot of research about palettes and painting systems of artists of the past.

Super-Wu: I know there are amazing things that you can do in digital that are impossible in those old crayons and greasy kid's stuff, and I sure admire what my colleagues can do with it, but I'll keep plugging along with the traditional tools, because I'm too old a dog to teach new tricks.

Erik Bongers said...

I wonder how they all reacted to your Arabic signature...

Super Wu-Man said...

i hear you james...

crayons and greesey kids stuff....haha, i think the awsome poster painter drew struzan put it a better then that, haha

"I love the texture of paint made of colored earth, of oil from the trees and of canvas and paper. I love the expression of paint from a brush or a hand smearing charcoal, the dripping of paint and moisture of water, the smell of the materials. I delight in the changeable nature of a painting with new morning light or in the afternoon when the sun turns a painting orange or by firelight at night. I love to see it, hold it, touch it, smell it, and create it. My gift is to share my life by allowing others to see into my heart and spirit through such tangible, comprehensible and familiar means. The paint is part of the expression."

but i know what you meant...

it will be interesting to see where the computer takes us...i'm eager to learn 2d and 3d art programs, but i love the idea of creating art away from the screen...and viewing the art of others made away from the screen...

Frank Ordaz said...

Hey JG,

I have a bunch of these orientalist images that I shot at the Stockton Museum which, though a small Museum, has a lot of excellent traditional samples. Bouge...u, Gerome, Innes , Church, Bierdstaadt etc . I just uploaded 3 samples on my blog, one of which includes a guard.I did not write down the artists names at the time...if you can recognize any of them, by all means, let me know.

Merry Christmas...

James Gurney said...

Erik, I learned the Arabic signature by rote, and was amazed that people could read it. At first I learned to write it from left to right, which was highly amusing to them. Later I learned to write it properly. I love the way real Arabic calligraphy looks, and wish I could do it properly.

Michael said...

Great stuff! It must have been awesome to sit in a place like that which hasn't changed much in the last two hundred years architecture-wise.

Luciano Bove said...

Hi, I wrote a post to remember Ted Younkin ex ACCD teacher who died yesterday. I wanted to let you know that I have linked to the post one of yours in which you talk about him and a visit you made him...if you are interested to check it out just go on my www.lucianobove.blogspot.com blog

Maybe you could also write something about it.

Take care
Luciano

Enzie Shahmiri said...

Thanks for the mention of my blog! James, how wonderful that you have a chance to sketch in such an exotic location!

Munchanka said...

Awesome!
I love that he has kicked his shoes off, it's those little nuances that show character!