Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Victoria Grayson Portrait in "Revenge" (2012)

I have a nice little post for drama-lovers. In particular, those who love television dramas as much as I do. I must confess that for the first two seasons, Revenge (Sundays, ABC) was my guilty pleasure. I delighted in the deep revenge schemes hatched out by Emily (Emily VanCamp) and her nemesis, the cool, elegant, and evil Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe). Unfortunately, last year, time constraints forced me to give up the show, but the memories are certainly wickedly sweet. So, in the first season, when an artist was introduced as a character, I was very excited, because that meant that art would be involved. And I was certainly not disappointed!

Towards the end of the first season, Victoria has an affair with an old flame, an artist named Dominik Wright. Dominik and Victoria have a dark secret: before Victoria's marriage to Conrad she worked with Dominik selling fake paintings to the wealthy. Victoria later abandoned Dominik for the wealth and prestige that Conrad offered, but as her marriage fails she turns to him once more. Towards the end, they have this little affair, which results in nothing as Conrad eventually drives Dominik away. But no matter: we're left with a gorgeous painting of Victoria.
I must be frank: despite being so evil, I loved to hate Victoria and am so glad that she, as my favorite character, got memorialized by portrait. When Dominik leaves, this painting, which appears several times throughout earlier in the season (and would function later as well) serves as his goodbye note. It's a gorgeous expressionist painting, featuring bold brush strokes, striking colors, while still managing to (attempt to) convey Victoria's beauty. You can decide whether it succeeds or not... Let's just say, in my mind, Dominik should have stuck with copying the masters...

In the show the painting is a labor of love, and it's certainly very easy to love. Even if as an Expressionist piece, it's a little muddled... there's nothing that can be done. As an aside, I believe the "real life" artist is an Expressionist artist named Chris Hero. His name appears on IMDB under "original artwork," so I'll assume that it's him. If it's not, and you know who it is, let me know!
Of note, one of Dominik's fakes that Victoria eventually pawns off to Conrad is a William de Kooning. Eventually, Victoria will dramatically cut the painting open and take the evidence that Conrad has hidden behind it. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a good picture of it, but it's a great moment- I assure you!
This painting is not very complicated: it represents love. Though it does, I should say, represent a very complicated woman.  I wonder whether the producers sought out the "muddy" look of abstract impressionism to convey the dirtiness and confusing nature of Victoria's character which seems blurred in her more compassionate moments. Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not. When it's left behind it serves a constant reminder of Victoria's infidelity and the loss of her lover. If you recall, these are classic motives for using paintings in movies, and it's refreshing to see that great dramas are still using them today with the same excellent results.

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