Saturday, June 9, 2018

What the fourteenth century looked like around the world

Americas & Pacific
Tenochtitlán, founded in 1325, was the capital of the Aztec empire.  Unlike most of my ‘point in time’ paintings, this is not a picture of what it looks like now a remnant of the Templo Mayor in downtown Mexico City.  Rather, it is my interpretation (from various models that archaeologists have assembled) of what this “awe-inspiring mega-city that stunned its European discoverers” and the chinampas (floating gardens) surrounding it actually looked like in the fourteenth century. 

Near East & Africa
I sketched this picture of the mausoleum of Oljaytu during an Art Gallery of Greater Victoria tour of Iran in April of last year. The octagonal mausoleum was constructed in the early fourteenth century in the city of Soltaniyeh, in Zanjan province.  With its 50 metre high, faience-covered dome, it is considered to be one of the outstanding achievements of Persian architecture.

The Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is one of the fascinating places I’d heard about for the first time when I was researching South Korea’s ‘painting possibilities’ when I was hoping to travel there in 2013. When the trip was called off following a disagreement with North Korea, I decided to go ahead and paint some of them anyway.
Unlike most Buddhist temples in Korea, typically built high in the mountains, Haedong Yonggungsa is spectacularly situated overlooking the East China Sea.  It was built in 1376, and is one of the major Buddhist temples in Busan. 

Europe April 5, 1996 was a perfect day to see the Alhambra and I discovered, after a one-hour climb from the Granada train station to the palace gate, that literally thousands of others thought so as well. (It happened to be Good Friday, which may have had something to do with this.) I waited one hour in a queue to buy a ticket which stated my hora de entrada to the Moorish Palaces, would be in another three hours!

There is a theory that the Alhambra, completed in the late fourteenth century, came by its name, from an Arabic word, al-hamra, for red, because of the colour in the stone used to construct it. But I prefer the explanation that, in their haste to fortify the position, the original Muslim conquerors were forced to work by the red glow of torchlight. Present day visitors have no such constraints, of course.  I had all the time I needed to sketch the all-encompassing view from the watchtower – the courtyards, and roof-tops of the palaces, up through gardens and olive groves to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.