The darkest shades of life

Review on St Peter on the Cross (Louis Smith), shortlisted for the The Threadneedle Prize

St Peter on the Cross - Louis Smith
St Peter on the Cross – Louis Smith

It’s dark, powerful and deep almost to the edge of brutality.

The painting is intense and consuming, swallowing the viewer and bringing him to his knees to the point of obsolescence.  It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the state of a human being in an absolute desperation and loneliness, who has just reached the very impasse of his life. This is the absolute fall of the man with his feelings and emotions snowballed into the grounds of his own desolation, the darkest hours of a soul who has completely lost purpose and direction. The fact that the cross is painted upside down plunge the composition and the imagination of the viewer into the darkest depths of hell on earth.

The size of the image (250 cm x 200cm) imposes and enforces itself on the viewer bringing back from the pits of his own existence the memories of dark and turbulent times. The viewer becomes St Peter, who at that very moment is not a Saint nor Peter, it is the broken form of a human creature, totally desperate, naked and exposed. The helplessness is further emphasized by the accent on the hands and feet which have been nailed to the cross, giving a sense of surrender and helpless submission.

Louis Smith has sought inspiration from Caravaggio’s ‘The Crucifixion of St Peter’  and has taken the subject to the next level, bringing context into the life’s of the ordinary people, associating with their own trials and tribulations they go through on a daily basis. And although the painting is very dark and provocative, it has a sense of salvation and rebirth. There is fine trace of light, coming from above, a fragile leap of faith and salvation. This could be God, or it could be the last stem of conscience, which brings us back to life, gives us strength, hope and meaningfulness.

Art review by Elena Todorova-Stanev, Cerise Art Agency, September 2009

Elena is curating ‘Elixir of Life’ exhibition at The Smithfield Gallery in London from 22nd until 28th November 2009.

Japanese rice fields become a work of art

Stunning crop art has sprung up across rice fields in Japan . But this is no alien creation – the designs have been cleverly planned and planted.

Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead, different colours of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields.

As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.


The largest and finest work is grown in the Aomori village of Inakadate , 600 miles north of Toyko, where the tradition began in 1993. The village has now earned a reputation for its agricultural artistry and this year the enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, are visible in a pair of fields adjacent to the town hall. The Sengoku warrior on horseback has been created from hundreds of thousands of rice plants, the colours created by using different varieties.

More than 150,000 vistors come to Inakadate, where just 8,700 people live, every summer to see the extraordinary images.

Each year hundreds of volunteers and villagers plant four different varieties of rice in late May across huge swathes of paddy fields.


Napoleon on horseback can be seen from the skies, created by precision planting and months of planning among villagers and farmers in Inkadate.


And in recent years, other villages have joined in with the plant designs.

Another famous rice paddy art venue is near the town of Yonezawa in the Yamagata prefecture.

This year’s design shows the fictional 16th-century samurai warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen, whose lives feature in the television series Tenchijin.

Various artworks have popped up in other rice-farming areas of Japan this year, including designs of deer dancers.

Doraemon and deer dancers (shishi-odori), location unknown

The farmers create the images by planting little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru roman variety, to create the coloured patterns between planting and harvesting in September.

The figures in Inakadate cover 15,000 square metres of paddy fields. From ground level, the designs are invisible, and viewers have to climb the mock castle tower of the village office to get a glimpse of the work.

Rice-paddy art began there in 1993 as a local revitalization project, an idea that grew out of meetings held by the village committee.


Closer to the image, the careful placing of thousands of rice plants can be seen in the paddy fields.


The different varieties of rice plants grow alongside one another to create the masterpieces.

In the first nine years, the village office workers and local farmers grew a simple design of Mount Iwaki every year.

But their ideas grew more complicated and attracted greater attention. In 2005 agreements between landowners allowed the creation of enormous works of rice paddy art.

A year later, organisers used computers to plot the precise planting of the four differently coloured rice varieties that bring the images to life.

How (not) to photograph the Grand Canyon

This is a case of a photographer photographing another photographer. The following pictures were taken by Hans van de Vorst from the Netherlands at the Grand Canyon, Arizona . The descriptions are his own. The identity of the photographer in the photos is unknown.
Grand Canyon 1
Grand Canyon 1

I was simply stunned seeing this guy standing on this solitary rock in the Grand Canyon .
The canyon’s depth is 900 meters here. The rock on the right is next to the canyon and safe.
Watching this guy on his thong sandals, with a camera and a tripod I asked myself 3 questions:

1. How did he climb that rock?
2. Why not take that sunset picture from that rock to the right, which is perfectly safe?
3. How will he get back?

After the sun set behind the canyon’s horizon he packed his things (having only one hand available) and prepared himself for the jump. This took about 2 minutes. At that point he had the full attention of the crowd.

Grand Canyon 2
Grand Canyon 2

This is the point of no return. After that, he jumped on his thong sandals…

The canyon’s depth is 900 meters (3,000 feet) here.

Grand Canyon 3
Grand Canyon 3

Now you can see that the adjacent rock is higher so he tried to land lower, which is quite steep
and tried to use his one hand to grab the rock.

Grand Canyon 4
Grand Canyon 4

Look carefully at the photographer. He has a camera, a tripod and also a plastic bag, all on his shoulder or in his left hand. Only his right hand is available to grab the rock and the weight of his stuff is a problem. He lands low on his flip flops, both his right hand and right foot slip away… At that moment I take this shot. He pushes his body against the rock. He waits for a few seconds, throws his stuff on the rock, climbs and walks away…

‘The Elixir of Life’ Exhibition at The Smithfield Gallery

Cerise Art Agency is delighted to present for the first time in London the works of two outstanding contemporary Bulgarian artists.

The Smithfield Gallery will host for one week only a selected collection of oil paintings by Diyan Dimitrov and sculptures by Dimitar Stoyanov. Accomplished painters and remarkable observers, they came to tell the story of their search for balance and harmony, and ultimately – the Elixir of Life. The beautiful tale takes us on an amazing journey where pain and bliss transcend from dream to reality, from past to present. We share and associate with their inspiration, visions and expectations admiring the power of their images. Their love of reflection, shape and colour stretches beyond the fragile frame of the human life and explores its existence wonderfully embedded with the nature. Humanising the animals and plants in their paintings is a further step in highlighting the role of the surrounding world as a friend, teacher and witness.

The exhibition is a rare opportunity for the London public to enjoy the works of Diyan and Dimitar and to mark their debut into the local scene. With their paintings and sculptures selling in many private collections in Europe, we are sure they will be well received in London.

Diyan Dimitrov was born in 1977 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He graduated the National Academy of Fine Arts and has been exhibiting mainly abroad, with most of his works being held in private collections. Diyan works in the field of composition, portrait and  still life. An accomplished painter and astute observer, his paintings are his travel-log to the Modern day romanticism. Diyan works between London and Varna, Bulgaria.

Dimitar Stoyanov was born in Bulgaria and specialized in the field of miniature woodcarving and iconography. His works are deeply rooted in the Bulgarian culture and spirituality, which also provide a source of inspiration and beauty. As well as working strict to the tenets of the Bulgarian Ortodox Church, Dimitar has managed to transfer the essence of his philosophy to more contemporary and modern mediums.

The exhibition will take place at The Smithfield Gallery, 16 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9HY from 22nd November until 28th November. Opening times 10am-6pm. Website

Press party on 23rd November 2009 from 6pm

Private viewing and official opening on 24th November 2009 from 6pm

Twitter Exhibition Open Day on 27th November from 10am until 6pm

Eva Rothschild – love it or hate it, you will notice it!

Ok, I will confess now – I love it!

So I will be very biased and I will understand if you stop reading now…

But HANG ON 1 second! And you will be intrigued! I promise!

The structure is hard to miss, it’s centred in the middle of Tate Britain as a giant disproportioned ant with as many legs and tentacles as you could expect from a giant insect, or an alien spaceship, or some quirky futuristic pyramids.

And that’s the beauty of it!

Eva Rothschild managed to create a whole new world, a story, a dynamic tale of many visions and objects with mere aliminium creation. This monolith three dimensional construction follows you around and you keep on coming back to it from every door and corridor of the museum. This  is the story of an invisible arrow that has started its journey as a tiny glossy black, aluminium box tubing speck of dust and continues through time and space. The feeling you have is that the arrow actually transcends into another dimension, vanishing in front of our eyes, rather than just ending on a visible level. And if you stand in the lower end of the construction, you might just have a feeling of this arrow going through you and sucking you as a participant in a strange time adventure.

You can see Eva Rothschild Installation at Tate Britain until 29th November 2009

The pictures used are property of Tate Britain

The ‘enlightened’ frog

The 'enightened' frog
The 'enightened' frog

Comments by the photographer:
This is a Cuban tree frog on a tree in my backyard in southern Florida. How and why he ate this light is a mystery. It should be noted that at the time I was taking this photo, I thought this frog was dead, having cooked himself from the inside. I’m happy to say I was wrong. After a few shots he adjusted his position. So after I was finished shooting him, I pulled the light out of his mouth and he was fine. Actually, I might be crazy but I don’t think he was very happy when I took his light away.