This geisha is one of two Asian-styled paintings that hung in our dining room for as long as I can remember. It is older than I am. I have a picture of my mother pregnant with me and the picture hangs on the wall. My parents married in 1947 so perhaps these were a wedding gift, I am not sure.
The other is of the Madonna and child, in a similar style and I am waiting on my sister to send me a photo. The geisha belongs to my brother – thanks to my sister in law for taking these photos.
Detail of her signature stamp…cartouche?
Here is the second image:
Someone on Flickr told me this was the Hail Mary, written in an old Chinese calligraphy style.
These two images were the family heirlooms of my aunt’s work. Two paintings, three children – I drew the short straw! But I can see them whenever I want.
What I find most curious is her evolution as an artist. These early examples are excellent examples of technical proficiency. My aunt was a very talented calligrapher and her personal handwriting was always unique and artistic. I’ve never painted on silk, but I suspect it is not an easy medium to work with. I imagine these two works were done while she was obtaining her BA, and I have speculated that my mother may have gotten them as a wedding gift. They were centrally focused as my mother’s romance with Asian decor grew and evolved. As my aunt matured, learned new techniques and earned two additional graduate degrees, her confidence to explore and express beyond traditional artwork grew. As she became exposed and influenced by modern masters, as she encountered young creative students in the 50s and 60s, as her religious order became more modern after Vatican II, as America and the world were experiencing social revolution and war, as she traveled to Europe and exhibited and received feedback and sold her own collections – all of these factors and conditions surely contributed to her change of style and interpretation. Her journey must have been so much fun and very stimulating! I am so glad she took it!
I have seen many artists stick to a visual formula – to a look that sells – to answer to tastes and popular demands -and stay there. That is boring. My aunt was never in it for the money, obviously. She lived a life of extreme modesty. No, she took chances because she wanted to- she pushed herself because she could- because she was curious and artistically inventive. Socially, she lived a conservative life – painting seems to be her outlet. Not that she wanted to go wild or was repressed, but rather she challenged herself to find new ways to express traditional values – love, spirituality, God, as well as artistic form, structure, shape, design, etc.