Author: wanderluster

National Gallery of Victoria: La Cigale by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

I want to share one of my favourite paintings from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

La Cigale (1972) by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, oil on canvas.

This is a beautiful painting from the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre that refer to Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant”. Apparently this was a critique against Napoleon III whose poor leadership led France to economic collapse.

If I remember well this painting was exhibited in a very crowded hall that imitated the ambiance of the Paris Salon, where artists used to show their works to the critics. Although there were many beautiful pieces surrounding this painting, this stood out. I thought it was interesting how this painting didn’t try to hide the sexual organs of the women with a piece of cloth, a flower or a similar object, but instead any details on this part of her body were completely removed.

I always love to find some contradictions in the paintings and I think I saw a few in here. First, although this is a frontal nude, it is interesting how the cloth, the hair and the arms cover the woman a bit making her look sensual yet not aggressively sexual. Although she is naked the focal point of the painting are THOSE eyes, so expressive yet mysterious, she seems to be staring directly at the viewer, yet she seems to be thinking about something else… some have suggested that as in Aesop’s fable, she is regretting being unprepared in harsh times. Those intense eyes and dark hair also offer a powerful contrast with the soft unblemished skin and the soft tones of the background. What do you think? Can you find any other contrasts in this beautiful painting?

Liu Dan at the British Museum

During my last and rather short visit to the British Museum I discovered two amazing pieces by the artist Liu Dan.

Poppy by Liu Dan (2007),  ink on paper.

Dictionary by Liu Dan (1991), colour pencil in paper

Both paintings are quite large but they do not overwhelm the viewer thanks to the large negative spaces and the simplicity of the objects portrayed. They are beautifully detailed and the artist did a great job in capturing the different lines in the poppy and  in translating the subtle textures of the cloth, the paper and ink in the dictionary. Unfortunately, as it always happens, I couldn’t find any picture that made any justice to the real paintings.

If you can go to the British Museum, I can’t recommend enough to visit this free exhibition of Chinese ink paintings. I think it is a rare opportunity to see these amazing pieces that belong to private collectors.

Review of: Tacombi @ Fonda Nolita

Like a month ago I missed a dinner with my fellow UN interns and I have to say… I was so glad I did it because I had the opportunity to visitthe fabulous Tacombi at Fonda Nolita in Soho, NY. I saw the recommendation in Time Out a couple of weeks before and I just wrote the address in my agenda waiting for the perfect time to visit this place. I had already been in  a few taquerias in NY with disappointing results, so I had not very high expectations about the place…. what wrong I was!

The first thing I noticed was the place itself…. it looks soooo Mexican. It makes you feel as if you were in a “mercado” anywhere in Mexico. The setting is livened up by cheap tables and chairs, praying candles, “Lupita” funky coloured sodas,  beer ads, and of course, the “combi”. The decoration is quite kitsch but fun, and it all adds up to create a quite relaxed and joyful ambience.

When I entered the placed I was greeted by a nice hostess who explained me how the system worked at Nolita. First, you buy as many tickets as you want at the counter: each ticket costs $4 (tax included)and you can exchange it for any food item: tacos (cochinita, tamarind chicken, tinga, picadillo, tomatillo….) and tamales (cochinita or chicken) at the “combi”, or tostadas or rice with beans at the other counter. You can also buy there a glass of aguas frescas for $3 each (tax included). It made me remembered my childhood years at the annual “kermess” in elementary school.

The first time I simply wanted to try everything: I had a taco de cochinita, a tostada de ceviche and a crispy fish taco. The taco de cochinita was delicious but a bit salty and the tostada de ceviche was quite good but nothing spectacular. Though, the fish tacos were simply AMAZING. As a revision in Foursquare rightly says, they simply blow your mind! The fish is fresh and fried to perfection: it is crispy but it doesn’t feel greasy , the tartar sauce brings out the fishy favour, and for the last touch, a bit of shredded red cabbage make this taco the BEST TACO I HAVE EVER TRIED. Yes, I  lived in Mexico for 22 years, I had been in many taquerias, I had eaten in many restaurants and my grandmother used to cook delicious tacos de guisado, but these tacos are just OUT OF THIS WORLD!  I also tried orchata and tamarindo flavoured watersand both were simply amazing: tasty, refreshing and for a change, not super-sweet.  I feel almost sad when I finished my tacos because they are so delicious I just want to keep eating them forever.

I honestly had tried to order other items from the menu but I seem to stick only to 1 taco de cochinita and 2 fish tacos with a glass of agua de orchata. For me, that’s simply the perfect balance. Overall, I think this place is amazing: the food is excellent, the service is good, the toilets are quite clean, the prices reasonable and the environment is friendly and relaxed plus you have free wi-fi. Two thumbs up!

Tacombi @ Fonda Nolita
267 Elizabeth Street
Manhattan, New York, NY 10012

27 Things To Do @ 5th Avenue, NY

Without any doubt, the 5th  is my favourite avenue in NY.  I’m sure I could spend a whole week, or even a month confined in this street and I wouldn’t be bored at all.  Here are some ideas of the activities you can do:

Cultural

Sightseeing

Shopping

Outdoors

Food & Drink

  • Grab a expresso, a gelatto or buy a panettone from Eataly @200 5th Ave.
  • Enjoy a beer or a Margarita during the happy hour at Dewey’s Flatiron @210 5th Ave.
  • Enjoy the view and possibly a very expensive drink at the 230 Fifth rooftop garden @230 5th Ave.
If you have any other suggestion or favourite place I should add, send me a comment!