Thursday, 8 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie/Russia's Favourite Love Machine

Je Suis Charlie

These are bad times. Too much violence and death. Je suis Charlie. Nous sommes tous Charlie. We are all Charlie. I don't understand some people, some humans, at all. The need to protect your religion, your beliefs, by killing others who don't agree with you, or make fun of you. The hatred towards others with different beliefs or ideas or convictions. I don't get it at all. I know it's not new, and I know it's not confined to extreme Islamic fundamentalists. The numbers of murders and massacres in the name of Christianity throughout history is enormous, massacres of Jews and others in Nazi Germany, genocide in Ruanda, massacres throughout time. Murder. Killing other people because they aren't the same as you. Killing - for what? I don't get it. Anyone who believes that killing someone for their beliefs id not just wrong - they are dangerous. People who spread hatred are just WRONG. I am intolerant of intolerance. My beliefs aren't the same as yours? I won't kill you. Don't kill me. Please. Never forget to be polite.

Russia's Favourite Love Machine

If you like history and you have never heard Hardcore History - Dan Carlin's amazing series of Podcasts - you really should. History and story-telling at its best. Dan Carlin would be pleased that his latest epic around the first world war has got me reading more around the subject. As well as the rise of Socialism in France I have been also reading about Rasputin: much more interesting than Boney M would have you believe. Despite the wonderfulness of the song it seems to be unlikely that he actually was the "lover of the Russian Queen", as Alexandria appears to have been a bit of a prude. A neurotic prude at that, married to Tsar Nicholas 2nd who clearly wasn't the brightest guy in Russia. And although Rasputin had a strong influence over the Tsar and Tsarina in many ways, some claim he was unable to influence some of their most awful behaviour, particularly towards the Jews. It has been argued that Rasputin sought to influence the Tsar to stop the pogroms in Russia that resulted in the massacre of hundreds of Jews, and argued against the Tsar's crackdowns after the 1905 failed revolution. But no question, he was a strange man with strange beliefs and behaviour. He lived on one hand a debauched life having as much sex and booze as one could ask for, and on the other hand the life of a penitent, being beaten with twigs for his wicked ways. But he had clear mesmeric qualities that enabled him to have some sort of power over people, and was able to "miraculously" help the son of the Tsar and Tsarina overcome some of the awful effects of his haemophilia - probably by a combination of hypnosis and the prevention of doctors giving the child the fashionable new cure-all - aspirin. Whatever, all this reading and podcasting made me (of course) look up pictures of Rasputin on the internet - and there are quite a few, including photos of Rasputin on his death bed (after his assassination). So the next step was a portrait. How could I get that down? Well,  see below. Not the best reproduction of the painting, but here it is.

65x54cm Oil on Canvas