March 2010

stone

porte-parole
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it all goes to plan

porte-parole
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bow

porte-parole
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boots

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Giovanni Carandente’s Balthus is buried by art history and art critics reliant on antecedents, sources of inspiration and comparison, and negligent of internal motivation, artistic necessity and the invention of the artist

– Sir John Tenniel

the Piero-Della-Francesca-type dwarf who pulls back the curtains in The Room of 1954 (…) appears almost as a caricature of Tenniel’s Alice in the first chapter of her adventures (‘Down the Rabbit Hole’) where she draws aside the curtain and discovers the little door leading to the immortal garden. In Balthus’ enchanting picture, the ‘immortal garden’ is surely that golden light…

Balthus: Drawings and Watercolours, Giovanni Carandente, trans. John Mitchell, Thames and Hudson, London, 1983, p. 11 [all subsequent quotations from the same source; emphases throughout added]

an atmospheric light so personal to Balthus as to have remained unaltered from his first pictures of Savoy, or the Morvan district in central France, to the recent soft-focused views of the Latium village, Monte Calvello.

– p. 14

– Fernando Botero, Abu Ghraib 50, 2005

There exists another drawing (in the collection of the painter Botero in Paris), which is a preliminary sketch for The Guitar Lesson and features just one of the female figures (…), providing additional evidence of the deep and complex thought underlying the whole of this artist’s creative activity.

– p. 14

the artist had used reality the better to crucify it

– Artaud quoted re Cathy Dressing, ibid., p. 12

‘It would seem that painting is tired of going berserk, on the one hand, and poring over embryonic matter, on the other. Painting seems to be turning towards a kind of organic realism. So far from rejecting poetry, symbolic stoytelling, and that goes beyond normal experience, painting will be more than ever preoccupied with these things: and it will have surer ways of achieving them.’

– Artaud, in 1934, quoted in/at ibid.

– Fernando Botero in front of one of his Abu Ghraib paintings, c. 2005

It would have given us great pleasure to reconstruct this interesting chapter in Balthus’ career, his association with the theatre – a chapter not yet properly studied and remaining unknown except to those fortunate enough to have seen the productions in question.

– p. 13

‘The negligence with which he handled them [his drawings] is the hallmark of the true artist, for notwithstanding his self-consciousness and the assurance with which he hides his timidity, Balthus is not easily satisfied with what he does. To the contrary, he treats his work with the severity of a very demanding creator. He is neither complacent nor frivolous – though he occasionally likes to appear flippant – but is dedicated to his task and always critical of what he seems to produce with apparent facility.’

– John Rewald’s introduction to the E.V. Thaw exhibition catalogue, in ibid. p. 13

– Marino Marini, Dancer

He sees before him a face, his own reflected in a mirror, or somebody else’s, an unforgettable angelic or timorously sensual female figure, or else, perhaps, a vase of flowers or some apples – and to all these real and tangible things he subordinates himself, yet at the same time adding his own intimate viewpoint, his own method of looking at people and objects, his own poetic dream. These living beings or flowers, even though scrutinized in all their evident reality, thus assume an emblematic aspect which transports them to another sphere, the private and personal sphere of the artist, far from the world of their own origin. In modern art, only Marino Marini, with his famous gallery of sculpted portraits, has been able to equal Balthus in reconciling independence from the subject matter with a total submission to it. For Balthus, as for Marini, visual likeness is a completely secondary consideration, even while remaining an ineradicable necessity.

– p. 16 [Marini heads here]

– René Char, photo by Man Ray, 1933

la caresse de cette guêpe matinale que les abeilles désignent du nom de jeune fille et qui cache dans son corsage la clé de Balthus

– René Char quoted in ibid., p. 18

The critic John Russell says that reading for Balthus has been ‘one of the supreme activities’ and adds perspicaciously that not only was the act of reading important to him ‘but the look of the act of reading’ …

– p. 8

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hommangerie
infemmarie
luz es tiempo
pique-assiettes
porte-parole
textasies
theatricality

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I hernia in public convenience

Strange.

– Am I living or am I buried here?

– under the weight of work and pieces that have been consigned here for failing to come to life, have or get or find a life in life, in mine, where anything might have happened, which, anyway, would have been better than this predictable oblivion. I’m thinking particularly about the scripts, the projects meant for multiple voices, not simply yours, not simply mine, to be felt by bodies, in bodies and shared among them, like sex.

This appears in Olivier Zahm’s purple DIARY (here), a quote from Philip Roth’s The Dying Animal, Zahm, who has prompted this reverie, one as indulgent as my activity here, eating of the dark fruit underground, empurpling my mouth and words:

Sex isn’t just friction and shallow fun. Sex is also the revenge on death. Don’t forget death. Don’t ever forget it. Yes, sex too is limited in its power. I know very well how limited. But tell me, what power is greater?

Olivier Zahm is in possession of the singular knowledge that in order to be quite candid he must create for himself a character: to show his life, especially his sex-life, honestly is to have recourse to a fiction, the fiction of who he is. So he lives that life in full view which is at once theatre, and illusion, and only therefore alive.

What makes it live for us? His conviction that, for example, the women we make love to bestow on us a precious gift: they give us “the most beautiful side of themselves.” For his blog, he photographs them “in these private moments.” They give rise to an ideal, the ideal lifestyle. These quotes are from his interview with Dirk Standen (yes, actually) for the Style File blog, here, entitled The Future Of Fashion.

Olivier’s conviction that sex gives life to what he does, writes, shows, however dissembling, is it the ground on which sex sells? Does sex represent life in terms of the ‘beauty’ of its ‘gift’ – which implies honesty – which, additionally, has to be presented by the illusion of Olivier Zahm?

I’m not so much interested in the logic here, or the psychology, as in admiration of a technique of the self, involving both a theatre of promiscuity and a chastity to reality, to truth (to the truth of truth (or truth as a (stage) property)). Of course there is something Sadean about it. The honesty that disturbs the status quo of political representation is that which is mediated by illusion: it can be called the ideal lifestyle – fashion and art, gloves in hand.

I asked some time ago whether art can provide a critique of democracy as we expect it to do of capitalism. I think the future of fashion, which has been the same since Pop, as in the rapprochement of fashion and art, is where it can be seen to be in process.

Sex is the killer application of such a critique, for, exactly, not being dead.

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enomy
hommangerie
infemmarie
representationalism
theatricality

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hunter class, Kumeu. Also in attendance, the Rt. Hon. John Key – a charisma-free zone, as it happens.

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clouds, the lives of, including Lines 1 and 2, Aerials, Descent and Red Sky, Blue Bleed

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swweesaience
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inside inside, outside outside, the inbreath and the outbreath from the series The Life of St. Rutland

croydon
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swweesaience
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victim detail (head) – Balthus – from the series Profane Icons

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hommangerie
infemmarie
luz es tiempo
porte-parole
sweeseed
swweesaience

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