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The Four Seasons

Artists have always sought to interpret the beauty of the Four Seasons in art and poetry. Their story is vast and a common theme in art history. Many artists represented this theme in different ways and styles throughout time. The 16th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) is very well known for the personification of the seasons by using fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Other artists like Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665) featured landscapes, figures, and animals in this subject. This goes also to Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) by depicting the weather and rural life.





In modern times, we find many artists who explored this theme in photography, installation art, performances, and video. But perhaps one of the most impressive British painters who undoubtedly explored The Seasons in a palpable force, is David Hockney (1937-), who created a series of digital drawings depicting the changing landscapes with colours. When we come to discuss the seasons in traditional contemporary painting, and their continuous transformation of the landscape, we find the four canvasses by G. Luigi Rossi. Rossi has interpreted The Four Seasons in a symbolical manner by using vibrant colours and whimsical shapes to generate a joyful feeling to the viewers. In these works, the artist expressed his spontaneous typical irregular, bold shapes contrasting with others which are subtle in tone so to achieve symbolically the changing weather of the year. Rossi is fascinated by nature, music, and a spiritual approach to life. His signs and symbols reflect a universal and unique deep curiosity to what surrounds him.

The poetic feeling in Rossi’s ‘Seasons’ paintings remind me of the great British, Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) and his famous poem, Ode to Autumn which he composed on 19 September 1819 and published in 1820. The artist like the poet makes contrasts between Autumn and Spring. In fact, Keats uses metaphorically his words, his poetry to express the changing moods and sounds of Autumn, while Rossi uses colour tints, tones and shades to reveal these sensations.



Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river swallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. John Keats, 1820


The reference to Spring, the growing lambs and the migrating swallows remind the reader that the seasons are a cycle, widening the scope of this stanza from a single season to life in general (Bate, 1963, 582-583). It is an unparalleled description of a richly beautiful autumn day, “season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” (Bridges, 1916). Even in Rossi’s colour scheme we notice the variations of greens and blues sometimes subdued to achieve this sensation. Such colours also in contrast with the vibrant reds and yellows which are an important part of the compositions. Both poet and artist seem to impart the serenity of spirit given to them by this lovely aspect of Nature.


One final thing about G. Luigi Rossi’s ‘Four Seasons’. I also find that these works have a deeply personal and political message with broad allegorical meaning. Such imagery will surely invite us to reflect on the beauty of nature and the polyvalent power of the seasons: cheerful as Spring, irresistible as Summer, Colourful as Autumn and cool as Winter.


Prof. Louis Laganà (Ph.D., Lough) is an academic, curator, artist, and art consultant.

Photography by Louis Agius.


References:

  • Bate, Walter Jackson. John Keats. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1963.

  • Bridges, Robert, ed. (1844–1930). The Spirit of Man: An Anthology, 1916.

  • Keats, John, Ode to Autumn, 1820.

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