Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Lad With The Knapsack

In the panel noted in the previous post, a few protagonists - soldiers marching on - are rendered with their  backs to the viewers, looking somewhere “ahead” & into the distance, whose contours we barely distinguish, but nevertheless intrigue us. 

A natural reaction might be to get closer the painting to understand where these characters are going and why, as they seem to hold the key to some future events. 

This knowledge confers them a role of an (almost) embodiment of an auctorial voice. Or perhaps, as Luca suggested in our discussions, they symbolize the fact that we may never know how some historic events truly happened and our efforts to explore the past yield new angles and new points of view each time. 

The viewpoints mentioned me wonder whether the lad with the knapsack (above) is not a hidden self-portrait of Luca. 

Is it possible that, in spite of all the efforts of contemporary artists and writers to abolish the ‘narrator’ and the ‘self’  in their creations, fragments of their personalities surface,  hidden and half-banished, in their respective works?

The lad with the knapsack also made me think of two well known self portraits.

The first one belongs to Velasquez, in “Las Meninas”, where Velasquez had painted himself in the left hand corner of the canvas, in the same quadrant where Luca placed his character. 


 The second one is found in the painting called “An Artist’s Studio” by Jan Vermeer, where Vermeer has painted himself with his back to the viewer.


The image of “Las Meninas” is taken from  wikipedia -->link
The image of “Artist’s Studio” by Vermeer is taken from Rudolf Frieling’s article whose own credits indicate:  “Netherlands | 100cm*120cm cm (W*H) | Archive / Collection: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Gemäldegalerie, Vienna”


  1. The esthetical discourse about the artistic work of Bogdan Luca has impressed us with the immediacy of the observations into the creative process.
    These insights gathered from the artist’s studio equally speak to our minds and our feelings.

    Greetings from Berlin!

  2. Thank you someone who appreciates art (a lot), but knows very little about how a painting is created, the opportunity to see a painting emerge from a blank (and, in this case, a huge) canvas is something novel and - frankly - awesome.
    Even more so that the painting is about the Niagara Peninsula, a place of incredible beauty.
    The photos of your own studio, which you have shared with me are equally intriguing.
    I think there must be a strong connection between the place & space where the artist creates and his/her paintings/writing. I am not entirely sure I can fully articulate this idea, but it is something that I keep thinking about - and hence the reference to Velasquez's and Vermeer's studio in this post.

  3. Irina,

    I find the "self-referentiality of the artist" idea intriguing. Foucault in his description of "Las Meninas” talks about the presence in Velasquez's picture of the three ways in which the artist represents "representation" itself through the visible presence of painter, king and observer standing in the doorway.

    Luca's "The Lad with the Knapsack" exploits the richness of that artistic gaze in the same way.

  4. Quite interesting Conrad, I was not aware of this trio (although the other Velasquez in the doorway it's an easy to grasp 'clue')- and thank you for bringing it here.
    My reaction to self-referentiality would be that it is probably difficult to avoid in most work of arts - but it is interesting to gauge where it may be deliberate, rather than unintended - when the reference simply emerges from under the 'lid' of artistic invention.

  5. Irina, you are really putting me in illustrious company :)
    I love Foucault's writing and the article Conrad mentions is terrific, especially in his description of the nature and function of light in this image.
    My piece is not self referential in the sense that I am explicitly present in it. Rather, in the sense that it is a painting which knows it's a painting (I hope) and not trying to be an illusionary space. That said, I am definitely interested in properties of the gaze, what is visible and invisible in the work and what the viewer contributes in terms of their own associations.

  6. Thank you Bogdan!

    I am an outsider to the act of painting, and as such I am trying to find my way through it,looking at signposts that I think I might decipher....hence all the names...they feel like the comforting letters of a strange alphabet that I'm attempting to string together. appears I have touched a chord that is somehow abuzz/resonating with this post so I will keep at it.

    Best of luck with the painting.