The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, April 25, 1994, Page 9, Image 9

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Monday, April 20,1904
Painter creates
silent language
By Paula Lavigne
Senior Reporter_■_[_
His fascinations with everything
from frosting to foods to freeways
make Wayne Thicbaud one of the
most influential contemporary visual
artists of the 20th century.
But he’d never say that.
A genuinely modest Thicbaud gave
a lecture and slide presentation Satur
day at the Mary Riepma Ross Film
Theater. He focused on slides of other
artists’ work that had influenced him,
such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van
Gogh and Krazy Kat, a cartoon.
Before he began painting in 1947,
Thiebaud was a cartoonist and com
mercial artist. One of the fewpiecesof
his that he showed was “Salads, Sand
wiches and Desserts,” a major hold
ing of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gal
lery collection. >
Thiebaud also would never s^y he
was an artist.
Rather, he said, there is a clear
distinction between artist and painter,
and he is of the latter.
“Art is a dirty word,” he said. “It
has many fuzzy distinctions. Art is a
kind of discourse. It’s highly abstract
and unclear.
“It’s like love. It’s difficult toknow
what the hell it is,” Thicbaud laughed.
The painter said that while art
could relate to many things which
were fantastic, it could theoretically
conclude to do away with itself.
On the other hand, he said, paint
ing is concrete.
“It’s very specific. It’s there for you
to touch,” he said.
He said a painting was limited to
whatever it proposed to do.
“Every painting is an autonomous
language. It is a language ofsilcncc,”
he said. “Art is not that way. Art deals
with the tongue, car and mind.”
While appreciating a painting,
Thiebaud said, one must make the
distinction between a “trained” and
“ignorant” eye. It takes a serious un
derstanding to realize a painting’s
full potential, he said.
“Painting is commemorative, lay
ered and deals with a state ofsilcncc,”
he said. “Painting is dead, according
to many people, and I would agree
with them.
“It is ... to them.” he said. “It can
only be enlivened by those who wish
to enliven it.”
A sense of empathy, or the trans
feral of oneself into something, cre
ates a sort of body language in reac
tion to a painting, he said.
Painting becomes a language, one
of the oldest languages we have as
human beings, he said.
“Painting, as a language, is more
like the birth of a colt,” Thiebaud said.
A painting requires a human being
to see in as well, he said.
“It’s like looking at clouds and
finding so many things in them.”
After examining all the works that
Wayne Thiebaud, a renowned painter, lectures and demonstrates to an audience Saturday
morning at the Mary Riepma Ross Film Theater.
had influenced him, Thiebaud went
on to display a few of his own works.
Watermelons.basted turkeys, cher
ries and cakes were “such fun I couldn ’t
leave it,” he laughed. Cosmetics,
people, plastic flowers and even paint
cans themselves surrendered them
selves to Thiebaud’s mastery.
His pass ion forpainling isas strong
as his enthusiasm for his other occu
pation — teaching.
Thiebaud is a professor of art at the
University ofCalifomia-Davis, where
he instills the same values he has of
his work into his students.
“The idea of individuality is get
ting the cart before the horse,”
Thiebaud said. “Everybody’s already
an individual, which leaves the real
challenge to get good at doing some
thing you want.”
^^^^^^^^CourTesyof Douqlass Kent Hall
Portia de Rossi, Elle MacPherson and Kate Fischer play tempting artistic models in John
Duigan’s erotic new film “Sirens.”
Symbolic film explores sexuality
Tv Tv TC
“Sirens,” the provocative new
film by John Duigan, addresses is
sues such as religion, morality and
sexuality in the form of a bordcrl ine
soft-core porno.
The setting is 1930 Australia,
and the story begins when a young
minister, AnthonyCampion (Hugh
Grant, “Remains of the Day"), and
his wife Estelle (Tara Fitzgerald)
drop in on a controversial artist at
the behest of the Bishop of Sydney.
This artist, Norman Lindsay
(Sam Neill, “Jurassic Park”), has
en te red a potentially offensive pa in t
ing in an upcoming exhibition.
Campion is asked to talk Lindsay
into withdrawing his entry.
Lindsay 1 ives in a secluded hidc
away with his wife, children and
three beaul iful models who are pos
ing for a work depicting the Sirens,
creatures ofGreck myth who would
lure sailors to their death with their
seductive singing.
Campion is unsuccessful in his
debates with Lindsay, and he and
his wife each face sexual tempta
tion that threatens to destroy their
The eccentric plot is interesting
as wel I as erotic, wrough t wi th vague
symbolism and weird twists. There
arc somcobviousphalloccntric and
religious references, and there is a
recurring image of an ocean liner.
The cinematography ofboth the
natural and the human scenery in
the film is exceptionally well-done.
Shot on location in the Blue Moun
tains of Australia with swimsuit
model Ellc MacPherson, the aes
thetic value of the show is high.
Grant and Fitzgerald give solid
performances as the intimidated
couple who find themselves out of
their sexual league. Neill is won
derful (as always) as the outlandish
artist who refuses to cater to the
prudish whims of the church. And
MacPherson is actually good as
Shecla, the aggressive leader of the
For fans of deep symbolism and
characters wearing birthday suits,
“Sirens” is a scream.
— Joel Strauch
Dancers amaze audience,
improvise to live music
By Paula Lavigne
Senior Reporter
Inconceivable twists of limbs and
bodiespaired withjazzy notesofsubtlc
harmonies during the Parsons Dance
Company and the Billy Taylor Trio’s
performance Saturday night.
The New York-based modern d ance
company, led by exceptional dancer
David Parsons and pianist Billy
Taylor’s jazz trio, created an artistic
experience for both the eyes and ears.
“Bach iana,” the dancers’first com
pilation, moved from sweetly amus
ing to deeply passionate. They trans
formed into a dizzying whirl of black
and red splashed across the stage.
Like quirky littlekittcnsonaspring
day, they twisted and bounced to the
plucking tunes of Bach’s harpsichord
A shocking transformation oc
curred during “Caught,” Parsons’ solo
performance. With the use of a strobe
light, he appeared to be suspended, or
flying, in midair.
Set to hollow, synthesized space
music, “Caught" was 1 ike an ani mated
“flip book” series of movements. Par
sons was in complete command of
both space and time as he stunned the
audience for a truly “Oh my God”
A little boy shouted “He's got a
wire. 1 know he’s got a wire.” A man
in the front said, “Michael Jackson,
eat your heart out.”
The BillyTaylorTrio followed suit
with a complete solo set. The high
light was “His Name Was Martin,” a
subdued, reverent tribute to Taylor’s
hero Martin Luther King Jr.
The dancers and musicians then
combined their talents on stage for
“Step Into My Dream." W ith Taylor’s
opening piano chords, the dancers
slowly crept out from their haven un
der the piano.
In dusty gray and zebra-striped
leotards, various dancers would per
form in front of the band. The nine
elements to “Step Into My Dream"
moved from stingy rap music to soul
ful ballads.
The most impressive selection was
one in which an unknown dancer
would pick one of the musicians to
improvise music, to which the dancer
would then improvise movement.
The performance neared the end
with the dancers coming out in their
leotards with red mittens and socks in
an amusing, lighthearted jolt.
The crowd roared for both Parsons
and Taylor, but a special applause was
given to dancer Mia McSwain, an
Omaha native, appropriately ending
an evening of unique improvisation.
Tevee to be set up on campus
From Staff Reports
Members of the Peoples and Cul
tures of Native North America an
thropology class, in conjunction with
the Un ivcrsity ofNcbraska Inter-Tribal
Exchange (UNITE), will provide an
opportunity for students to observe
some facets of Omaha American In
dian tribal culture.
Lee Davis, assistant professor of
anthropology at the University of Ne
braska-Lincoln, said one of the stu
dents, who was adopted into the
Omaha tribe, has constructed a tepee,
which will be erected on campus.
Talks on the uses and construction
of the tepee will be given while it is
being set up, she said.
“Afterwards, the students will be
playing two Native American group
games, a running game and a sit
down gambling game,” she said.
“This is a great opportunity for the
students in the class to put forward
culture of local Native Americans,”
she said.
And it will be nice for students on
campus to observe such hands-on ac
tivities in a class context, she said.
The presentation will be given in
the grass plot outside of Bessey Hall
today from 1:30 to 2:20 p.m.