October 4, 2010

Our eyes above each other

So, following on the Magritte post somewhere upstream, this could be the second part of a new series called: artists that don’t speak to me at all, except they’ve done the one single piece which absolutely floors me, should floor anybody, and deserves top entry in the canon. And again, I remember slouching into a gallery room (this one in Bietigheim-Bissingen, if you really need to know), and being hit by the thing—most squarely against the eyeball not least because everything around from that same guy, Max Pechstein, was run-of-the-mill Brücke expressionism that could be categorized into its leanings to more idiosyncratic colleagues work by work (and I’m not exactly a sucker for German expressionism in the first place, most of it seems to have yellowed before its time, read: instantly).

There’s not a lot science I can do here really. Just register the love with which the indecision of the boy’s pose between defiance, or maybe just being cold, or maybe just having to squat has been rendered. And yes, his eyes are blank pits of the deepest deadest darkness, this is not just because I scanned a postcard. I didn’t even have a kid when I first met the painting, so the resonance was mostly with my own boyhood. I’m not sure how far out of Germany this really translates, but I played with houses like that that came down from my father, and all of the forms are related to a history that to me included the mysterious unspeakability of the Nazi past, but of course to Pechstein in 1916 they did not. Boy With Playthings this is called. They surround him like twelve dolors in almost military formation.

For some reason (mostly colorful), the sobriety, dignity, and all-around humanity of that little fellow (only three years old when he was painted, at least that was the age of the artist’s own son then), to me goes so very well with a late Picasso painting from 1969, sort of a self-portrait as a spoilt child with a rapier and flower as his own playthings . . . While the Pechstein is much greater art, these two offset each other’s charms so very well.

(I really don’t know what to do with verticals on this blog, they look so bad. I mean, what’s the idea anyway, why would anyone do verticals in the first place, it’s not like our eyes were set above each other, is it?)

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