A FaceSunday, August 12, 2012
Most of my life I have been fascinated and attracted to beauty. Sometime in the early 60s my artistically inclined grandmother, Lolita and I went to an opening in Mexico City by a young Filipino painter whose name has been erased by time. My grandmother and I stared at a big painting that featured a pair of Mexican huaraches (the kind that have cut car tires as soles). My grandmother called on the artist to explain why he would paint something so ugly. The painter with a smile on his face said to her, “Ah, but the beauty of ugliness.” My grandmother laughed. And I never forgot as to this day I would have rarely have agreed with the Filipino artist.
In 1951 I saw Henry King’s 1949 film Prince of Foxes based on the novel of the same name written by Samuel Shellabarger. This movie left a lasting impression on me as it featured a horrendous (to my young eyes) scene where a castle under siege defends itself by pouring boiling oil on the army attempting to scale the walls in long wooden ladder. The villain, Cesare Borgia is played by Orson Welles who commands that our hero, the swashbuckling swordsman/artist played by Tyrone Power to be executed. His fate is somehow spared when the villainous looking (but not so) Mario Belli played by Everett Sloane convinces that better than death Tyrone Power be rendered blind and thus thwarting him to hell on earth because of his artistic tendencies. Sloane picks some black grapes from a bowl (unseen) and goes to Power, who has been tortured, and tells him to scream when he gets his hands near Power’s eyes. Sloane then makes it seem he is gouging out Power’s eyes while simultaneously squeezing on the grapes!
But the scene that brings to mind the huarache painting happens earlier in the film when Sloane attempts to kill (ordered to do so by Welles). Powers overcomes the man and when he is about to dispatch him with his sword sees Sloane’s face. He says something like, “With a face as ugly as that I cannot kill you. I must paint you.”
I have never been tempted to photograph ugly people because they are ugly. If I must do so by assignment or by commission I always do my best to make them look the best I can in as flattering a light as I can muster. I have never been tempted to photograph garbage or show the poverty of a country when I can concentrate on the cathedrals and the gardens. There is enough ugliness in our world as it is, and I am never in a mood to glorify it.
Which brings me to the purpose of today’s blog which is to glorify beauty. In this case it is the beauty of a woman called Quilla who has a beauty unique to her. But then I must think that beauty is always unique to the person unless it is of the current crop of starlet/celebrities (they of exquisite blandness) that instead of getting voice lessons or acting classes choose to change their names to some sort of Kabalarian philosophy (the Hollywood branch) that states that names containing the letter Q(Quilla's Q is purely coincidental) are advantageous in helping achieve fame .
I first met Quilla as a model at Focal Point and she quickly became our favourite. But of late she has not been our model as she decided to study journalism and photography in a Victoria school. She is also one mean and very good tree planter. Currently she holds a job as a reporter/photographer for a Saskatchewan newspaper.
She was in town briefly a few days ago and Quilla kindly accepted my request that she pose with my mother’s red shawl. I took some pictures, too, sitting here at the very place where I am writing this.
I have a very good reason for having chosen to photograph her by the computer. I have done so twice with Yuliya Kate, and would you know that both of them posed once, together, for my class at Focal Point.
This large city is not as large as some of us think. Those in my red shawl series by the virtue that I know them all will sooner or later have something in common. So Yuliya and Quilla who posed together at Focal Point and posed by my computer will now be joined by being part of the red shawl series.
As for Quilla's face it is far removed from that huarache painting. And yet while I have met and photographed so many beautiful women, what is it about Quilla's face that is decidedly different? Some of you will never know as part of the package has to include the rest of her. My photography can do no justice to that.