A Small Picture of the Big Picture

volume 31 number 2 Cover

Description of the title illustration

The illustration comprises of elements picked out from the article, and from there using it as a springboard, namely a mention of the words/name ‘carrot’, Madonnas, Satanic Mills and Nicholas Serota. I selected resonant words that could be richly illustrated. As a lover of puns, I hatched the moniker ‘Nicholas Carrot-a’, as he’s quite slim, hence could be depicted as a carrot, and carrots were mentioned in the article. Nicholas is in his own way partially responsible for the cultural downshifting from awe inspiring Rene Magritte’s and Dorothea Tanning paintings of surreal mastery to the bland splotchy daubs of canvas and unmade beds deemed as art today. This art fits in well with the general downwards spiral of culture and society at large today. I hope that Bugs Bunny does not mistake him for a carrot and decide to consume him.

The Satanic Mills were depicted tiny, hinting that their ‘satanic’ power is reduced, particular-ly by the beautiful, dark, fair skinned Madonna above, a traditional idea of beauty as depicted in Medieval to Pre-Raphelite and Victorian times until quite recently, when the concept of the Madonna culturally shifted, and to my mind, deteriorated, into meaning a painted and sexually provocative woman, not beautiful, dark haired and fair skinned, (or a natural blonde or redhead) and ethereal looking, the once high standard of beau ty, but bleached hair and heavily sexualized, as opposed to delicately beautiful and graceful.

Standards have fallen since the 1960s, the society where drugs proliferated, people for- got deodorant, and trousers were wider than the Atlantic Ocean, and, in my opinion, not very decent music, with the exception of Raymond Scott and Joe Meek, and morals, manners and society declined, as did most things in society, culture, ideas of beauty, TV, films, etc. I depicted Lady Gaga, who symbolises the modern ‘icon’, as Lady Gargoyle, as that is how I feel a lot of modern culture and ideas are, and the kind of man who finds her beautiful. I realise of course an icon and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to my beholding, the Gay appropriated icon like her, Madonna, Beyonce, Kate Moss, Kylie, etc, fall short of icon qualities, natural beauty, gentility, etherealism and religious piety, philanthropy and a certain kind of intelligence.

Thankfully there still is an appreciation of more traditional and less grotesquely sexualised beauty around, and beautiful modern icons/Madonnas, such as Kate Bush, Rachel Weisz, Nigella Lawson, Daryl Hannah, Alison Goldfrapp, Lady Diana Spencer, and of course Sophia Loren, Joan Collins, Grace Kelly and Zsa Zsa Gabor. However, technically, even these lovely ladies are not true icons in the original sense of the word since icons were depictions of heavenly beings and religious experience. The meaning has changed over time. Sexy does not to me mean iconic, or beautiful. And really, is it sexy even? Is not hinting at allure more sexy rather than a brazen display of crotch? It’s like comparing a beautiful 1930s Bugatti racer with a current day mass produced nondescript Ford Ka. Like comparing ‘To Catch a Thief’ with Grace Kelly with a Kristen Stewart film.

We may have advancements in medicine and technology, but with that has come a dismantling and attempted destruction of the niceties and graces of life, which is a crying shame, hence why my beautiful Madonna is crying and slightly fading into the background, hoping to be taken back to a more elegant time…

Jasmine Surreal is the artist who created the title illustration for The Big Picture. She is part of the Stuckist group in Cornwall.

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