Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking for a green knight . . .

Anahit Vart, Green Knight

A few days ago, I posted a query about a painting by Guillermo PĂ©rez Villalta of "a naked green man astride a green horse," for I wondered if the artist were depicting the antagonist in the Pearl Poet's strange poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

In response to my query, a comment has been posted by Trevor the Baldie, the back of whose head can be viewed here but the font of whose wisdom is much closer:
There are lots of jokes in Spanish about green horses, but I don't think they connect. Verde means indecent, which tends to cloud things.

The Moor Alfatami and his green horse are hidden under a hill somewhere in Valencia, Spain, awaiting an appropriate call to emerge and slaughter Christians, but I don't think he's a bodypainter.
I replied:
Trevor, thanks for the information. The possible pun between "green" and "indecent" might be lurking here (if puns lurk like a parenthetical remark).

I don't know much Spanish, by the way. I know that "indecente" means "indecent" . . . so does "verde" have a secondary meaning of "indecent"? As in the English "green" meaning the color green but also having a secondary meaning of "inexperienced"? Or are there two words "verde"? As in the words "cleave" (meaning "cut asunder") and "cleave" (meaning "cling together").

As for the apparently bloodthirsty Alfatami, his name (though not his horse) strikes a chord of memory, but only distantly. I checked online and found only one Googled reference to him with a green horse. I thus didn't learn much, but I did learn something, hence proving the old saw that one learns something new every day . . . even if merely a little bit.
This new information sent me Googling for images of a Moor riding a green horse. As the image above demonstrates, however, I found not a Moor but a "Green Knight" instead, possibly the very same one described by the anonymous Pearl Poet.

The artist, as noted above, is Anahit Vart, who was born in Armenia but moved to Buenos Aires in 1992, then on to Los Angeles in 1997 and continues to live in California. I obtained this biographical information from Vart's own website, but she doesn't provide any details about her various paintings there.

On a commercial website, however, I found that the painting reproduced above was painted in 2001 and is noted, at that website, as being connected to the "Arthurian legend." I don't know if this Arthurian link is correct, for the site offers no substantiation. Moreover, the green knight depicted above has no beard and may be riding a green dragon rather than a green horse, as can better be seen at Vart's website by clicking on the image there and looking at details. Also, the other images in the painting have no obvious connection to the Pearl Poet's Gawain tale. I'm guessing that Vart might have been inspired by Armenian legends -- or possibly Russian ones. Or Jewish? The above painting recalls imagery from Marc Chagall's work . . . at least to me.

Well, this entry hasn't taken me very far, but at least it took me a lot of time to get here.

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