October 15, 2009

Romulus and Remus

So, I was looking at Mark Ryden‘s work, which I kind of like. I like the precision, the painterly portrait aspect, the clean figures doing twisted things with blank faces but the the faces with the too-big doll eyes? It’s a little too manga for me, or something. I’m obviously not an art critic. I was one of those people in class that says, “Um. I like it!”
But I’ve been working on some paintings with fairy-tale themes, so it’s nice to see what’s out there. Which brings me to this painting, which made me laugh when I read the title (The Ox Suckling Romulus and Remus) because I remembered this story:

I was in Rome and I was walking around with Fede and Lisette and we had passed the Colesseo and all the multi-lingual party hustlers with their flyers, and the fat men in gladiator costumes saying dirty things and winking, and the Chinese men selling fans and hats and the overdressed tourists with their flimsy shoes and tanlines and we had sat at the cafe at the top of that big building with the horse statue out front (Monte Capitolino) that looks over the ruins all sunken and rounding and all those Italian stone pines arching over everything, and we ate fruit and salad in front of a huge fan with a mister.
We were walking down the stairs after paying to use the bathroom and Fede asked me if I could find the famous Romulus and Remus statue. You know the story. A she-wolf suckles Romulus and Remus and then they found Rome. You know. She said, “It’s huge.” And I stood there on the steps and looked around and I couldn’t find it. I saw tourists and marble and all that hot sky but I did not see this statue. And I was looking all around me and still wasn’t seeing it anywhere and feeling really bewildered and Fede was laughing and finally she pointed it out to me. And it was tiny. It was this tiny bronze on a pedestal with the wolf and her teats and then there is Romulus and Remus awkwardly standing under her with their mouths up and open and their hands waving around. It’s ridiculous. And it was a replica because apparently the real one is inside in the Capitoline Museum.
And it’s like that sometimes, when you are looking for very big things, what you are actually looking for is very small.
And we had a good laugh about it and then we went and wandered through all these narrow brick alley ways and you turn a corner and there’s another beautiful fountain with vines growing over the walls and children kicking a can around and all the women were tan and wearing very high heels and picking their way over the cobblestones like birds. And later, at dinner, we drank wine and it turned out that Lisette could speak English and she and I had halting conversations and she would blush as she answered my questions.

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