BELLA VENEZIA, MY LOVE (Satis Shroff)
Vive la Venice.
The Serenissima’s long dead,
But the myth of bella Venice lives on,
Created by its native sons:
Canaletto and Guardi,
In the eighteenth century,
With cheerful and festive colours
Venice’s epochal renaissance,
Depicted by painters from northern Europe
And the United States.
Claude Monet’s canvases
Daubed in Venice in 1908,
Only to be followed by Turner.
As a casual visitor you’re captivated
By the canals, bridges, ships,
Marketplaces and palaces
Of this beautiful lagoon city.
It inspired creativity in so many,
To paint and write their feelings
And admiration for beautiful Venice.
‘Too beautiful to be painted,’ said Claude Monet,
Only to come with brushes and colours
That couldn’t resist the temptation.
Modern art’s approaches
In the historical context.
We peer in awe at the works of Old Masters
Titian, Velazquez, Rembrandt,
Hung between Bacon’s works
On the purple wall of the Fondation.
Beyeler takes us to the ‘water-lily city’
An elegiac series of art,
With leitmotifs at the Piazza San Marco,
The Canale Grande, Palladio’s Maggoire,
Santa Maria della Salute churches.
Byron’s allegory of decline and fall,
His evocative imagery of Venice.
William Turner’s transcendent
Visual inventions on canvas.
Eduard Manet painted Venice in 1874,
The first modern artist,
His impression is confreres.
A delightful trend in art:
Self reflexive painting pure.
Sans subjects, sans genres,
No overwhelming with sentimental
Away from official Paris and London,
With their old fashioned visual stereotypes:
Cherish the unique air,
The ravishing beauty of Venice.
Got ‘em all,
In a bid to create new,
Monet, Manet, Whistler
Odilon Redon, Paul Signac.
Beyeler surprises us with
Franch and Anglo-American avant garde.
Artists who were active in beautiful Venice
From the nineteenth
Till early twentieth century:
Sargent, Monet, Renoir,
Whistler and Anderzorn,
With his art of the magnetic cosmopolitan
It was artists who created
The myth of Venice.
The Serenissima remains
A cult destination,
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Intrigued by this mysterious town,
It’s colourful everyday life,
The interplay of the sky and sea,
Ever changing light, the whiff of the waves,
A symphonic harmony of colours.
Tourists, laymen and women,
Artists, lovers and photographers,
Have all been inspired
By the mysterious muse Venice
To create epochal works,
Unleashing crucial impulses
For the evolution of modern,
Art that will live on
For the delight of the connoisseur.
Art you can learn in Paris,
It’s Venice that you have to paint.
Venice, the unreality of a fairy tale.
Venice, where joie de vivre
And melancholy are at home.
The power of the Serenissima and its demise,
Where love and death doth meet,
Coming together and going apart.
Bella Venezia, you’re ambivalent.
I’m attracted to you,
Repulsed by you.
But considering everything in you,
You oldest child of liberty,
I can’t but love you.
* * *
A WRITER IN VENICE (Satis Shroff)
It was a bright sunny morning when Claudia, Giacomo, Silvana I headed for Italy from Freiburg. The first Swiss town we went through was Basel, the second biggest town in Switzerland which is known for its university and Swiss chemical firms near the Swiss-German border.
The sky was a cobalt-blue as we sped through the Arisdorf tunnel. In Switzerland you have to go through a lot of tunnels. The Swiss have introduced a vignette system whereby every car has to have a sticker pasted on its windscreen at a cost of 30 Swiss francs annually. The Swiss autobahn (highway) was surrounded by breath-taking scenery, with green pastures and rounded hillocks. In the distance you could see the Alps. As you speed along the well-maintained highway you see picturesque tiny towns and hamlets with their cute church-tops. There are extremely romantic settings ahead as you watch the mountains reaching out to the lake. You see the mountains right in front of your nose with their pine forests and snows tops. You drive past the Seelisberger lake and view a magnificent mountain scenery.
There are pretty petite Swiss huts on the lush green slopes of the hills with pine trees and jagged peaks, which have often served as backgrounds for scores of Bollywood films. With Lata Mangeshkar’s touching and sad version of ‘Kabhi khushi, kabhi gham’ blaring from the car’s stereo CD player, we certainly felt like Bollywood stars. I was a South Asian from the foothills of the Himalayas and Claudia was from Germany’s Black Forest and we’d met at a ballroom and latin dancing class at the university town of Freiburg. Giacomo was from Brescia, a town in northern Italy and Silvana was from Sicily, and had, as expected, a lot of jovial, southern temperament.
Near Luzern, the Alps appear suddenly in their majesty. When we went past the Sempucher lake I was reminded of the equally beautiful Phewa lake at Pokhara. Then came a series of tunnels. Every time you came out of a tunnel you were rewarded with a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps. Near the Vierwaldstätter lake near Luzern, where we usually spend our holidays in Morschach (Central Switzerland), we went past the William Tell chapel. Tell, it mig