Dreams & Reality


Recently I visited the “Dreams and reality” exhibition at the National Museum, Singapore. It had art from the collection of Musée d’orsay (http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html), representing the period of 1848 – 1914. It exhibited masterpieces of the artists like Claude Monet, Philip Wilson Steer, Vincent Van Gough, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and many more. Wow! What a treat it was.

I am obviously not knowledgeable enough to critic any of the great artists, but surely had my views on some of the art I saw. It was an inspiring exhibition. I slept dreaming about what I saw. When I think about the exhibition there are few paintings that keep coming back to my mind.

1. Firmin Girard

The Convalescents -1861


The Convalescents -1861 by Firmin Girard

The first thing that came to my mind was, how did the artist remember the angle and the shapes of the shadows?  Did the artists use any photograph to record the scene and then painted it? Or was it just his imagination and mathematical skills? When all these questions were going on in my mind, I also did some reading about when was the first camera invented. Wikipedia has amazing info on this:


Ok now don’t count me silly, but while observing the painting, I noticed something and would love to see what do others feel about it. The area highlighted with blue has a man figure sitting on the bench with his back towards the viewers. I can see, that his upper body shadow is falling on the bench. However I thought the shadow of the legs is missing.

2. Theo Van Rysselberghe

Sailing Boats in an Estuary, circa 1887

Theo Van Rysselberghe Sailing Boats in an Estuary, circa 1887

Sailing Boats in an Estuary, circa 1887 by Theo Van Rysselberghe

The audio guide instructed to step closer to observe the painting, then step back or half close the eyes and look at the painting again.

This painting had the division of small dots of white, blue, green and grey. However when you half close the eyes the dabs of colours melt into glimmering seascape. I was completely absorbed in the painting. To me it looked like, as if I am looking at the picture captured by the camera and has been zoomed at a very high percentage.

3. Vincent Van Gough

Starry Night Over The Rhone

Vincent Van Gough Starry Night Over The Rhone

Starry Night Over The Rhone by Vincent Van Gough

This was my first opportunity to see any of the paintings by Vincent Van Gough. When I saw this painting I instantly fell in love with it. The blue yellows and the greens melt into each other, creating a magnificent picture. I was thinking, if I have to recreate this picture in terms of photography, it would be quite challenging. My thoughts at that time were, how could I capture the bright light (comparative) of the lamps, blue sky (normally 10-15 minutes after dusk), and beautifully lit starts (Normally not visible so early after dusk) in one exposure. The only way to capture such inspirational image would be multiple exposers merged into one. Was this bit of imagination on painter’s part or are there places where one can see such amazing scene?

Another point to consider is the human figures. Getting the still image of the human figures in such low light can be possible, only if I introduce off camera flash. Over all, this would be a great experiment



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