Saturday, May 18, 2019

People in Rome

 People-watching is always a pleasure in Rome.
Let's begin with this oarsman beginning his sprint on the Tiber
and pass this workman painting a screen in his workshop
or this fellow selling wares with an avian bystander
or this visitor to the Barbarini Collection
or this young fellow taking a rest in one of Rome's many churches
or this doorman at a Bulgari shop        
ot a lady checking in on her break
or this elderly couple taking a stroll in the rain
or a paver repairing a monastery courtyard
or a cellist working the Ponte Sisto
or a waiter adjusting his friend's suspender
or an elegant barman pouring a glass of wine
or a cook checking his emails
or a couple of friends recording a light show
or a fashionable young lady displaying her shaggy jacket
or this dapper gent on the Via Condotti
or these priests passing through the Parione neighbourhood
and end with this clergyman slipping off to his next destination by bike.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ewa Monika Zebrowski at ONEROOM Books

Bill and I attended the opening of a show of photographs yesterday at ONEROOM Books -- one of Rome's best photobook stores and an art exhibition space.
How often we have been tempted by the voluptuous displays in this window on the via dei Chiavari at Piazza dei Satiri.
 The occasion was the unveiling of a new body of work by Montreal-based photographer Ewa Monika Zebrowski entitled Bequest, 200 Statues.  She told me to pronounce her first name as Eva -- "I'm Polish".
Those are her new prints on the back wall of the shop. Bill and I were too distracted by the interesting people we were meeting to document the work properly. Find some good examples on the gallery's website.
Zebrowski also produced some large prints for the exhibition -- here's one.
Bill and I were surprised to meet a number of Canadians
 among the native Romans at ONEROOM. That's gallery artist, Eva Tomei, at the door.
 Janet, a friend of the artist, emigrated to Rome from Vancouver, via a teaching stint in Dubai. 
Stefano Ruffa is the brains behind ONEROOM. He has made this tiny space a must-visit shop for lovers of photography.
He showed us two of Zebrowski's recent artist books from his own collection. 
We left the party having made some friends. That'a the ONEROOM magic. Find more Zebrowski on her website. Exhibition runs until June 29th, 2019.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Roman Colour and Texture

Walking in Rome Bill and I are always struck by the colours
 chalky and intense.
 I find myself framing
details
as if I'm looking at paintings.
One morning we were walking between the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona
I looked up and there were the three colours of Rome -- pink, yellow and peach. 
 I never get tired of these colours.
 And I never get tired of the masonry 
that frames them.
 This is a pile of wood in a carpenter's shop. Look at the delicate plaster (stone?) frame of the door!
 Around every corner
 there is a fresh wonder
 unexpected
 gorgeous.
Those Roman colours again -- peach and pinky ochers.
And around another corner, the Goddess Juno keeps an eye on tourist and native alike.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Basilica Santi Quattro Coronati

There is a quiet oasis a few steps from the Colosseum.
John and I found it on a hill at the top of Via Santi Quattro.
When we entered the Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati
we slipped into an ancient Christian world of monasteries and Church mysteries.
Our first goal was the thirteenth century Chapel of Saint Sylvester. We passed through two courtyards, rang a bell and the face of a nun appeared at a grilled window.
We paid two euros each and she buzzed us in to the chapel. The space felt holy.
The frescos tell us of Emperor Constantine's leprosy and his miraculous cure.
Constantine, his face spotted by sores, is surrounded by his concerned subjects.
He is cured by Saint Sylvester and converts to Christianity.
The remarkable cycle of frescos ends with Saint Sylvester bringing a dead bull back to life.
The paintings surrounding the altar at the other end of the chapel are painted in a later style.
Emperor Constantine reminded John of Father Christmas.
We thought this painting had the long-limbed expressionism of the style called Mannerism.
We left the chapel. Through a side door we were allowed entry into a intimate cloister.
Like the chapel the cloister also dated from the 13th century.
It was an oasis of calm in the centre of Rome.
Unhurried we listened to the twelfth century fountain. We felt other-worldly.
The corridors surrounding the cloister have become a display area for memorials from its past,
including this elegant engraving on marble slab.
On our way out of the monetary we passed through a huge defence wall, its arch topped by a 9th century bell tower -- the oldest Christian bell tower in Rome.
We followed these white-robed nuns to the busy city below.