(This scene depicts the masquerade ball where the phantom appears, terrifying all with his threats and intimidating appearance. I think this shows the true extent the Phantom went to to hide his appearance and seem unreachable. There is a deep sense of unrest in it as well, even as his cloak reaches ominously for the party goers.)
It absolutely amazes me what I find when researching for my presentations. Sometimes I find new singers; other times it is an incredible movie. This time, as I looked for pictures for my presentation on Phantom of the Opera, I came across the picture above and fell almost instantly in love with it. Now, I am NOT an art expert. I will not pretend to be. But I would like to believe that I am a good judge of beautiful art. Ever since I saw Anne Bachelier’s artwork I couldn’t get them out of my head. Usually I look at something and think “Huh. . . that is a nice painting” or “That is an interesting statue”. This time I went out of my way to find her works and learn more about her, even after several days had passed.
(She deeply emphasized the striking difference between the girl and swan from the black figures that hold her captive. This reminds me of Swan Lake and other myths about girls changed into swans by sorcerers or fairies. Each side of the picture is the girl: the one on right what we initially see and the one on the left who she really is.)
Looking through Wikipedia and other sites I concluded that information about this artist is scarce. She was born 1949 in Louvigne du Desert, France and studied at the prestigious art school Ecole des Beaux Arts in the 1960s and married Claude Bachelier 1969. She has done several book illustrations, including the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe, Alice in Wonderland, Rose Daughter (Robin McKinley) and The Phantom of the Opera, and had galleries all around the world. Distinguished as a surrealist artist, she emphasizes three things in her artwork: Metamorphosis, transition, and evolution (Multiple websites affirmed this). Gallery and Studio named her “art’s enchanting Scheherazade” and each of her paintings sell for several thousand dollars.
(Does it seem as though she holds cities encased in eggs? Perhaps they are cities or civilizations not yet built.)
Surrealism is an interesting style. My exposure to it extends merely to the the artworks of Spanish artist Salvador Dali and two French surrealist/impressionist films La Belle et la Bête (1946) and The Fall of the House of Usher (1928). I will be honest. I find Dali’s artworks fascinating and brilliant but I could never put him on my wall. The two films. . . well, they gave me a headache even as I admired their brilliant cinematography. Yep. That just about covers my immediate knowledge of it. Looking at it from a historical perspective, I know that while Expressionism (which I find FASCINATING) grew in Germany Surrealism flourished in France, both a byproduct of World War I and the horrors so many endured for no clear purpose.
(I believe that this picture shows the crossroads, where a girl must choose how she is to lead her life. What each of the male figures represent is a mystery to me as of now.)
(The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, Salividor Dali)
So what exactly does Surrealism try to tell its audience? Initially, art is an experience and open to individual interpretation. Surrealism takes it a step further by creating juxtaposed images that cause an onlooker to look deeper into its meaning by connecting to their subconscious and hopefully discovering a little about themselves in the process. These images are illogical and perhaps a little uncomfortable to look at most of the time, partially because they are born more from the subconscious, however, the key thing to remember is that they are that way for an important reason. These artists, as they always have been, are deep thinkers and the greatest take you on a journey to discovery and aestheticism.
Whenever I see this type of art, along with any modern works, I always ask myself “What is this painting, photograph or sculpture trying to tell me?”. I figure in time I will become better at understanding the minds of these artists who I really just don’t understand.
(When I see this I hear the words “We are ready to lead/guide you to where you need to go”. I think that the young girl, by looking back, does not know if that is what she really wants. She is apprehensive of the future.)
Now we come to the featured artist. Unlike the other surrealist artwork I know, her pictures tamper more with beautiful dreams and images conceived from the recesses of an innovative mind. When I see her paintings I do not sense anything remotely sensual about them, which is a rare treat when dealing with more modern art. For example, I noticed something when I went to the Orzy museum. Many of the paintings created at the beginning of the 20th century felt uncomfortably sexual in nature. I saw A LOT of naked pictures and statues all over Europe. The Renaissance artists and Romantic painters had just as many naked artworks but they were completely different. I pondered this when I left the Orzy museum. I believe it was the intent behind the pictures. Somehow, the artist’s initial purpose for each artwork and their state of mind, whether sensual or creative, are conveyed strongly through each painting even when they are dead and buried. Some paintings just simply feel wrong.
(“Jeune homme nu assis sur le bord de la mer”, Flandrin, Hippolyte 1855 also hung in the Orzy but does not feel sensual)
(This could mean many different things: that the girl has been born from nature, that she has immersed herself in her world, or that she is in a stagnant state of being. I love the autumn colors.)
(“Candy in a new Dress” and “Beast Boy”, Clive Barker)
The best way to describe her paintings is otherworldly. In each one I saw, I felt that the people and places she gave to me were unattainable. Such beauty seems like it could not exist. Her art reminds me, only slightly, of Clive Barker’s paintings for Abarat except that they are never absolutely terrifying. Their were many common themes I noticed throughout her work including orbs or eggs near or in women’s hands, young women escorted by men, decorative masks, many of which are pulled off or sitting in the person’s hand, a meeting with a ethereal being, butterfly’s flying near or around a person’s face, and plants growing from or around a person.
(The minute I saw this I thought what is she writing? She has such a sly expression on her face that I have to wonder how she got to where she is.)
Her main three themes (Metamorphosis, transition, and evolution) really interest me. Metamorphosis usually is seen as a biological process in which an animal or insect develops and changes conspicuously and abruptly after being born (Think frog, bird, fish, frog etc). What does it mean though when it comes to human beings who are in a constant state of change? Perhaps a child changing into an adult or a woman marrying.
(The color choice in this painting is very calming. The Unicorn, obviously male, stands like most of her men in paintings in a ballet like poise with his toes pointed. It almost seems like he is escorting her to a ball.)
Transition is a movement from one state of being, place, subject, concept etc. to another. The question that immediately follows this is obviously, “Then where are the figures in her paintings moving too? Is it a different state of being? Is it from childhood to adulthood? Is it a step in a journey?”. The questions are endless.
Lastly there is evolution or the gradual process of changing from one state of being into another naturally while in specific environments or situations.
(This is a woman prepared to move on or change escorted by one man who holds an unhatched egg/destiny and the other with old unadorned horns. Her robe reminds me of those set on brides shoulders in traditional Japanese weddings.)
Essentially, I think her art captures life and human being’s inevitable nature to change and grow into different people. I also believe that they show that life is beautiful and a journey that is not easily explained or understood in a single fleeting thought or glance. I love her free-flowing, graceful lines and subtle colors as well as the designs or her masks. Also, there are Western and Eastern cultures featured in her paintings. Oftentimes, it is hard to distinguish what culture they are truly from. The two that caught my eye the most were Chinese and Venetian.
(What I find interesting is that the figure in black, who seems to be giving the woman in orange something, wears a mask. I have to ask what it is that they are giving to the woman (the butterflies indicate that it is something that will change her permanently) and their true intentions.)
I hope that you enjoy the art I feature here and who knows, perhaps you will become interested in art and find artists of your own you can love. I will talk a little about each one I found and will try not to be too long-winded.
(I can not help but thing that these are two figures witnessing the birth of the world. They have seen many things and oversee the world as it is about to come into its life.)
(I believe that the young woman is leaving behind the world created by older, well seasoned adults into one uncrowded and ripe with change)
(Alice’s trip into the mirror seems somewhat dangerous and initially impossible)
(Who is she holding in her hand? She carries a mask of butterflies so perhaps she represents the new life of the couple she carefully cradles? Perhaps it is her own marriage.)
(The one thing I think when I see this is “Where are you going?” It seems as though they are following a stranger, masked and holding an enticing trinket onto dark ominous paths.)
(This is the journey. There are unreachable stairs behind the figures in sheets of white and birds that seem in a better and easier position to reach the intended destination. The white figures could be held up by strings meant to dissuade the two making their way through the waters.)
(I believe this represents death. There is a slit in the background that opens to a bright world and the figures seem to be those ancient and mere shadows of who they once were.)
(She is holding a butterfly and a fan with an image of a person riding a dragon. Perhaps she is saying “Is this where you are going?” or “This is the fate that awaits you.”. )
(The fantasies of a child come to life or even her young untempered dreams.)
((This reminds me somewhat of Charon’s boat in Greek mythology and the myth of Orpheus who descends into Hades to find his love. However, the figure in orange is definitely not someone of that world.)
(The woman is adorning a mask and proceeding to venture forward to the smaller figures in the right hand corner. This might be another case where she is read to either be married (probably to a man she cannot show her true self too) or to be brought into society.)
(Deep meditation and the meaning of change. There are two figures here. The other must be the self she left behind.)
(She must not be ready to leave her current life quite yet. The place she is sitting is certainly curious. Perhaps it is the remains of a cracked egg.)
(This woman seems to be saying, “Let’s see what the future holds.” as she holds the ever-present orb in her hand.)
(I noticed this in several others, but does it seem that the figure in black at the head of the ship might be death leading the way through their journey?)
(A deep connection with nature, and the loss of a mask. It must have been a painful change.)
(She is saying, ” I am living my life fine, thank you. I have been through many changes and have accepted them and where I am.”)
(Three different figures, who probably represent different aspects of the change, waiting for the girl to reach them.)
(I find it curious that the butterflies, unlike previous paintings, are not on her but away from her. Instead there are snakes writhing in her hair. Perhaps she took a wrong turn sometime in her life and is unable to accept their consequences.) I LOVE THIS PAINTING!
(The tall figure beside the girl is obviously a man of the church. The figure he is leading her to maybe represents a fool or trickster. Strange that a man of God would lead her to a man of deception.)
(All the figures lack form. Maybe they are people who have been forgotten.)
(The two figures seem to be a master and his student bracing the dark roads into the future.)
(Hope. The young woman opened the egg and found in its depths hope.)
(This shows a married couple standing together, bracing the dark road of life. The blue egg in her hand must be an unborn child.)
(This must be a birth. She is descending down from heaven as if in a forgetful sleep. Or it might be the opposite, where she has died and is ascending into heaven.)
(A couple who have been together for a while, hopefully the bird does not represent their separation.)
(Newly awakened love. The egg is the same shade of blue as the egg in the other picture.)
(The figure above seems deceitful and ominous like temptation which entices children to leave behind their innocence.)
(This might be the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.)
(This must show the day of a girl’s marriage, the cats the unpredictable figures that hold her future in their hands.)
(Alice running in the never game to become dry.)
(We’re painting the roses red!)
(This is the second of the Phantom art pieces and I love its entire ambiance. Christine seems to be looking at that dress, reaching forward confused and curious about why it is there. All of these pictures are darker and rich in the colors and themes of the Romantic Era, specifically through Gothic literature. )
(Christine’s separation from Raoul seems all too real through this picture. It makes it clear that there is no escape from the Phantom but still holds a sad twist of inevitability especially for the small figures unaware of the image that changes into the near future.)
(The falling chandelier, bright but unable to lighten the horrible fate of those below it. The Phantom seems so much like a specter of death.)
(This represents Christine’s return to the theater. The figure seems unreachable and engrossed in the dance which must represent the stage and its enticing nature.) THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES!)
(The images behind her must represent the heavenly quality of her performance. She even stands as a figures of white, almost like an angel.)
(This is the darker side of the stage. When the curtains rise they are an ominous shade of red, tainted its seems after so many years or perhaps foretelling the tragedies which are to come.)
(This is the epilogue, when the Phantom tells the Persian of Christine’s beautiful, caring kiss and touch. As she stands there, she stands as a monument to what he lost and that she is leaving him.)
(The figure atop the hill was shown in several pictures. She is holding an orb and seems to be watching over the many travelers on boats, guiding them to their next destination.)
(This woman is heavily masked and obscured by colors that look slightly unraveled. Always hiding, but never quite keeping herself away from fate and life.)
(This is a woman who embraces change, which is white and pure. This is one who has chosen a good path unmarred by temptations or immorality.)
(The masks are hanging down, possibly to deceive and lure travelogues. They might also represent the four figures resolution not to lay hidden behind masks, to be their true selves at least in the presence of the three others with them.)
(I think this represents Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado. If you unfamiliar with the tale, one man in an act of revenge buries his enemy alive in a crypt.)
(This portrait of the Phantom, Erik, hints at his real identity but obscures it enough that it leaves the viewer curious rather then repulsed. I love the coloring in this and all the other Phantom pictures.)