The Bell Tower

Sunlight hitting the top of a bell tower in a bombed city
40" ×
Oil on Canvas

When I began to listen to Gorecki’s 3rd, the vision of a tower kept appearing in my mind-all three movements feature a distant muted piano striking chords at a slow pace--after two years of listening I realized that these piano chords sound out over the music like a bell in a tower. Thus I have a ruined bell tower, struck by the setting sun, looming in the background of a ruined town.

While Gorecki’s 3rd is specifically written as a WWII memorial, I believe it rises above this particular event to mourn the western world’s entire history of senselessly destructive warfare. In the mid-ground I have therefore placed two posters reflecting this--one is a carnival season poster from the town of Verdun, the scene of a ten month battle of WWI which I visited twice as a child and which has haunted me ever since. The second poster is of Berlioz’s opera “The Trojans”--based on Homer’s Iliad, the western world’s first literature, concerning the siege and violent destruction of the city of Troy. The 3rd poster features Gorecki’s name.

Because the 3rd symphony is as hopeful as it is despairing I wanted some fragile, surviving objects on the foreground wall. I chose a mounted spice-brush butterfly and a section of a paper screen painted in the 16th century by Japanese master Ogata Korin. The poem is from a woodcut by Hiroshige-it is 8th century Chinese and reads: “crows and storks fight over something to eat/and over where to sleep, you stand there all alone by the pond and wind blows and snow piles up.”

Represented by
Jane Hamilton Fine Art

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