W R I T T E N · W OR K



By Robert Ranieri, 2015



Silver sharp arc, is the cry of a red tailed hawk with a flight out over the cliff top. Ice crackles from shelves of fragile rock. Frozen waterfalls shed shards of crystal water, as springtime submits its moving thaw, to scatter into shadow.

Here below, we still shiver our way to the split wood pile. Within the shaped garden, snow has swelled on top of all raised walls, and a few chosen dark rocks show their mass above the dunes.

Chill of winter may have blunted our enthusiasm for now, but we can at last see little green leaves emerge from slots between snow drifts; merry notes. Panels of moving water show a tranquil sky. From the folded shadows of the cliffs, birds poise to tipple and circle.

It is here, where, within such abundance of varied particulars of sight and sound projected upon us, that these mortal moments must resonate with acts of defiance. Natural caves may contain the growl or whimpering of bears and cubs, but humans have learned to project their voice into a gaping world.

Shelter from nature's indifference has trained all of us to draw protection with every means we can develop. We celebrate therefore in enclosed spaces that we build, in order that any sound intended as expressive measures, may not be left to chance.

Many theatres have successfully shaped their interiors so as to form and contain voices and music instruments. Because of rather expansive dimensions, the singer may not hear her or his own voice within such spaces, since the classically trained voice is intended to be so projected as to reach the back of the theatre. By going through a long period of vocal training the voice strengthens and clarifies with trills and parabolas.

Lungs fill with air, and human anatomy is so created as to modulate each note to maximize every potential expression and meaning.

Some concert halls resemble the inside of a chest, and it is like a part of that great cavity containing the lungs, that so designed, receives sounds from the vocal cords as to propel these sounds out over the audience. The suspended tiers of seats that hold the concert goers, resemble ribs. A little far fetched perhaps, but nature remains the source, from which much is learned, even if by an incidental reference.

In part, some of the imagery in my painting, derives from classical building types, and interiors that show vaulting and domed forms made to appear in many permutations; some may open as vertical sections of a building. Interior or exterior; the exploration of such themes, invites a broad range of formal manipulations.

A connection will be made between these curvi -linear forms and performance of music written for the voice. This brings into view the female figure.

An unassuming magazine, was the first to draw the attention of a boy into abrupt focus, on a partially clothed young woman. It was studied in secret, and one could wish that the draped folds would be arranged differently. Soon, the Greek Goddess from ancient sculpture and other divinities seem to emerge by chance from the 'families' books, through the subject of history.

Except for pre-adolescent murmurings, and public dances at the 'Y', it was first semester drawing classes in art school that revealed the erotic majesty of the female figure. Nothing can truly describe the supreme presence of a woman, fully aware of her effect on men. She is an indelible icon.

Painting a woman a few times has helped to define my work. While living in New York City, women friends would graciously pose for drawings that promoted my interest in painting this subject. Magazines that promoted woman wearing lingerie would suggest ideas as how to attire or abbreviate 'the figure' and avoid the routine approach that follows photography.

My wife was a willing model, and despite the abrupt changes paintings she posed for have undergone, her presence can be traced on several canvases. Not as trivial detail, but as cogent and selective solutions. Even as she journeyed through her first of two wonderful pregnancies, her essence as a beautiful woman was unchanged.

Among recent cycles of works, several smaller paintings refer to the theme, Diana and Actaeon. This theme can be a reminder of the feeling of rejection men may experience. Actaeon the hunter, stumbles upon the naked divine hunter goddess Diana, with her entourage, while they are bathing in a woodland pool. For this affront, she turns his dogs on him, and he is torn to pieces.

There are a few small works shown that are tinged with the erotic. Cropped or fragmented symbols, the figure in particular, allows for multiple explorations. These figurative sections, remind one of some of the broken sculpture from the Parthenon, especially those that survive from each of the two pediments belonging to the temple. Housed now in the British Museum, without their confinement, within the triangle, as when originally shoved up there, high on those temple shelves, their remaining poignant and subtle expressive movements are free to inhabit surrounding space. We can lament their deteriorated state, but they have gained some benefits. Heads missing, limbs broken off; once smoothly modeled forms now have taken on surface qualities brought into cognizance the way Rodin handled surfaces of his 'walking man'.

A chorus is seen frozen in tableaux, to stand starkly silent awaiting a single compelling cue. In state of alert and quivering in taut silence, the faces of the chorus are slowly drawn up to shape their mouths, opening into sounds the voices make as undulating arcing lines blend into perfect harmony. Skeins of vocal lines of song, travel past all attendant ears.
Steadily minding the conductor's cue as combatants would, each block of choristers voices remain assuredly clear, obedient in mind, as their singing resonates. At times darkly forceful, the bass voices arranged in triple rows along the back, are like a wall of stolid unity. Sopranos and altos, robed in floor length, ivory silk gowns, raise a melodic line above the tenors clarion heraldry.

Thus announced, La Diva steps forward, her eye on the conductor, who till now, has led the chorus and orchestra with steady sweep of arms and baton.

La Diva, arms at her sides, is statuesque in her silken gown that falls in delicate fluting just above her silver shoes. The narrow silver belt that emphasizes a slender waist below the generous bosom, allies her with the ivory goddess, Pallas Athena.

Her voice rises to fill the vaulted space above her, and now with the concert hall lights dimed, the soaring of melody is sensed to flow throughout this vast space, and is rounded into all of the architectural shapes of ceiling and sloping isles.

She places her voice without straining to ascend note after note, word after word, as though each word were a bronze rosette, affixed within a radiant gold covered, coffered vault of a classical building type.

A Diva will find ways to shape notes to more fully connect with the text. This duality within vocal music contributes to our own most private feelings, and brings us to a better place. When we follow her deepening cadenza down into introspective passages, we can't help internalize this mood when her singing can mirror the deepest reservoir of insights that then arise up onto the surface in consciousness. It is not uncommon for an aria sung by a voice with such a capacity, to open the gates to help us experience for ourselves our fragile humanity.

Columns, capitals, impost blocks, corbels, arches, vaults, domes, are among the many parts of classical building styles. Analogies can be made in supporting and shaping the duly trained singers' voice as she will see the music notes in her head, and with care, so place her voice that each portion of her body will support her song which though evanescent, she can create forms in space that may parallel the architectural shapes rising around her.




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