Print Culture

Winged horses

The Bubonic Plague

Bird of Prey

Critical Mass

The Bridge of Sighs

the nude and the Bridge of Sighs Source: Europe Sketches

ord Byron was fundamental in renaming this architectural marvel of white limestone, 'the Bridge of Sighs,' in his poem, ' Childe Harold's Pilgrimage,' which appears to have too many stanzas and as such just one will be selected. There is also mythology about how eternal love can be for couples who kiss underneath this bridge wishing to engage for a lifetime of wedded bliss or hell depending on your viewpoint. Keith Hansen also attended art classes in Venice and the nude sketch skillfully rendered in salmon-pinkish crayon and charcoal is a cherished memento of a beautiful example of the female form. The Bridge of Sighs - is also constructed with just enough inked detail to perk one's interest, in regard to both pages above. Keith inferred that walking over the Bridge of Sighs was indeed a creepy experience. The reason being the claustrophobic nature of the passageway and trying to see through the stone lattice windows is somewhat problematic because of the smallness of the design.


Bob Dylan - Noble Prize

Apropos of Nothing

Europe Sketches: Ghosts of Venice

Figure 1 Isola Tiberina - Source: Europe Sketches

n a chance conversation on my mobile phone with Keith Hansen about how there was a new publication entitled, 'Brett Whiteley: Art, Life and the Other Thing,' by Ashleigh Wilson which was due to be released in 2016. Keith always feels overlooked within the daunting shadow of his cousin Brett who was extremely gifted, but cursed genius, afflicted with too many inner daemons and addictions. I decided on an impulse to request the loan of one of Keith's art diaries such as 'Europe Sketches,' circa 1975. This artistic rendition of an ancient Roman bridge over the river Tiber leading onto the 'Isola Tiberina,' an island shaped like a boat is just a foretaste of the sample of this said diary, refer to figure 1. My intent is to extract the life-force of an artist embedded within the retained memory of Keith's text and imagery on the pages of his art diary. I also wish to relish the unexpected fillip of the accessibility of his European portfolio of artwork consisting of other sketches and paintings such as the example of the San Giorgio Maggiore Church at dawn - Venice: refer to figure 2. 

Figure 2 San Giorgio Maggiore Church at dawn - Venice Source: Keith Hansen
The Catalina seaplane being the main focus of attention taking off from the pastel shaded bluish water of the Grand Canal against the washed-out sky of non-descript greyish blue. The application of the mauve-like blue to almost everything highlights the blending of the dawn just before sunrise. Although, Keith does seem to be somewhat obsessed with this iconic landmark of religion, built on an island and the gondolas in the foreground within this particular watery space in Venice, painted in watercolours. Various paintings and sketches of the San Giorgio Maggiore Church will be showcased throughout this creative project as this church has been extensively painted by a diverse palette of artists' such as the following; Claude Monet, Canaletto, J.M.W. Turner and Raoul Dufy. Therefore I have explained to Keith that I intend to create the sense of the Gothic-like atmosphere of the watery spaces of Venice within the uncanny themes of the history, architecture and the art - so Sigmund Freud. There has to be just the hint of the creepy factor in the recreation of the haunted city on the page - the ghosts of Venice in this artist's diary. 

Europe Sketches -  front cover Source: Keith Hansen
There was an element of cloak and dagger as I stepped down onto the railway platform of Circular Quay in search of this overly cautious man who regards himself as a real artist. Today, he is in possession of a treasured personal artifact over forty-one years old such as the Europe Sketches above: This artist's diary is filled to the brim with the tanalising promise of art hand-drawn which is sometimes splashed with pen ink, Conte crayons, charcoal, watercolour and gouache paints. There is the intriguing text hinting at the poetic and the personal reflections yet to be transcribed as Keith Hansen's handwriting is somewhat difficult to decipher. The premise here, is the still living artist will be able to behold, the text and imagery pertaining to his teacher's quotation that; "the greatest compliment to any artist is the re-interpretation of the concepts of genius belonging to another." This was the advice of Keith's mentor and teacher Brett Whiteley in regard to his cousin, 'the Sorcerer's Apprentice of Art.' The ability to turn magic into art and poetic prose is indeed the craft of alchemy.  One can to be gifted, in the arts, to be able to call on, the elements of fire, air, earth and water from the depths of the inkwell of creation; such as the example of the black ink drawing of Keith's angelic muse and old-fashioned ink pen.

Keith's muse of the inkwell of creation Source: Europe Sketches

These rare sepia-toned photographs of Keith Hansen show the other side of his creative psyche as the musician in possession of his fiery passion for life like a true Spaniard. The writing of musical notes and poetic prose was for Keith an extension of his artistic expression. It appears in these two photographs of Keith as a much younger man in the 1970s - there are variations of mood of being either pensive or happy. In both photographs he is posing with his vintage Maton guitar, brought second-hand in the 1960s with a sunburst logo: below. Keith's alter-ego namely his guitar travelled all over Europe with him and this finely tuned instrument of Australian design was left behind in Berlin, Germany. but there is an interesting twist to this story as another musician now resides in Morocco with his somewhat preloved Australian guitar still fondly remembered by Keith. This overly sensitive artist who feels his emotions too deeply embraced the adult concept of his European experience within the culinary delights, the wine and other things too naughty to mention here. Although I would like to draw attention to one example of an amazing visual of the nude and dolphin that is executed with the minimalist's approach. Just the unfussed simplicity of just a few lines of black ink. An ancient Grecian urn - Keith was inspired by the imagery of a boy named Phalanthos riding a dolphin - at the Sydney University  Nicholson Museum - in creating his interpretation of the sensual visual of the female form.

The reconstruction of this Grecian urn of a boy riding the dolphin is somewhat flawed due to the fact that several fragments are missing, quite bizarre especially when the reaslisation how the head is missing from the draped man in flowing robes.