Jean Louis Garnell: L’oeil du matin – 2014

L’oeil du matin  –  The Eye of the Morning

From Chatenay Malabry near Paris, (France), UNE PEINTURE BY JEAN-LOUIS GARNELL. Pigments sur toile de lin, 130 x 100 cm. First title: #10  2014.

It’s the eye of the morning, or Spring as an organism, the mystery of birth. Le printemps is a masculine word, la primavera is feminine, and spring-time, or spring-tide, is neutral. What do languages bring to the mind, beyond the idea that “the receiver and the giver are equal in their benefits … and who shall say between Man and Woman which is the most delighted?” Keats, 1818. Keats again: “I was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, by the beauty of the morning operating on a sense of Idleness – I have not read any Books – the Morning said I was right – I had no Idea but of the Morning and the Thrush said I was right.” (Letter to Reynolds)

I’m not suspicious of clarity, which in France is a cultural obligation and the threshold of style, and makes you wonder what humans really are. RAThe Eye of the Morning

On April 28, Garnell replied: “Le titre de la peinture est dorénavant: The Eye of the Morning.” L’oeil du matin.

He also sent a poem of the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer: Madrigal 

J’ai hérité d’une sombre forêt où je me rends rarement. Mais un jour, les morts et les vivants
changeront de place. Alors, la forêt se mettra en marche. Nous ne sommes pas sans espoir.
Les plus grands crimes restent inexpliqués, malgré l’action de toutes les polices.
Il y a également, quelque part dans notre vie, un immense amour qui reste inexpliqué.
J’ai hérité d’une sombre forêt, mais je vais aujourd’hui dans une autre forêt toute baignée de lumière.
Tout ce qui vit, chante, remue, rampe et frétille ! C’est le printemps et l’air est enivrant.
Je suis diplômé de l’université de l’oubli et j’ai les mains aussi vides qu’une chemise sur une corde à linge.

From: BALTIQUE et autres poèmes, 1989, Le Castor Astral (France), Les Ecrits des Forges (Québec), p.137 (French translation from Swedish by Jacques Oudin)

I inherited a dark forest where I rarely go. But one day the dead and the living / will switch place. The forest, then, will start marching. We are not without hope. / Despite the action of all the polices the bigger crimes will not be explained.  / In our lives as well, somewhere, there is an unexplained, immense love. / I inherited a dark forest, but today I move to another forest flooded by light. /  All things that are alive sing, shake, climb and wriggle! It’s springtime and the air is inebriating. /  I have a degree from the oblivion university, my hands as empty as a shirt drying on a rope.  (English translation from French by RA)

A studio-house on wheels with birds in the star lamp. (Temporarily stationed under construction at the Zorthian Ranch, Altadena, CA)

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A STUDIO-HOUSE ON WHEELS with BIRDS in the star lamp.(Temporarily stationed under construction at the Zorthian Ranch, Altadena, CA)

Dominique Moody is different from a tree only because she can carry roots in her body, and roll them up in her mind, and pull them out to complete her art. She moved 45 times. From now on, she will be on the road all the time, a nomad.

One morning, at the insurance company: “I would like to insure my truck.” “Who is the driver?” “I don’t drive; actually, I am legally blind.” “But, are you the owner?” “Yes, I am.” “Who will be driving?” “My brother.” “Where does he lives?” “Upstate New York.”

Dominique had bought a 1950 F 5 Ford truck, thinking of adding to the truck a trailer supporting a 20’ by 8’ custom made little house. And she asked for two plates: NOMAD 45 and NOMAD 46, the names of her art piece in motion: the studio-house NOMAD. Nomad is the the work of a woman who holds on to the idea of a home as if it was a hat threatened by a windy day. The house, as the hat, will follow her no matter where. She has made her own shell. As the travel will start, in a few months, she will leave behind the works she produces, marking the fact that she has passed by. The shell on wheels is meant to be an open laboratory. Art and life in motion with old and new friends she might encounter, to receive and give back the feeling that each single life makes sense as the sound of a melody, for the most part dispersed.

Around Easter, one of the lamps recently installed in the porch of the NOMAD showed dry weeds and threads sticking out of the metal star. The inside of the lamp had become a nest. Mother bird determined to join her songs and her kids’ voice to the human noise during the construction. Here they are.

Link to Dominique’s blog:




"Night Storm" 2013 Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

“Night Storm” 2013
Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

The first story is from Interview, April 2014, p.112. Robert Longo interviewed by actor Keanu Reeves: “….This art historian, Maria Lind, said that art is a form of understanding – like philosophy and science and mathematics are understanding – but the difference is that art has the capacity to hold all these different things. It is the form of understanding that is best suited for the contemporary time that we live in. In that sense, I think this pursuit of trying to understand things is really a critical issue. I see the issue of life and death in everything I do. I’m trying to find answers. It can be quite frustrating, but at the same time, I’m never quite satisfied with what I’m doing, so I’m always looking for the next thing. The ebb and flow as an artist is a bizarre experience, for sure.”

The second comes from Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm, 1977: “Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split.”

The third story was in The New York Times 3 days ago. A twelve year old girl from Guatemala was let behind to live in the village with grandparents by mother and father who started a new life in the U.S. After twelve years her parents decided she should join them, and cross borders and countries guided by sharks smuggling human birds as they can. After a journey of five weeks, a man and the girl were arrested in Ciudad Juarez, near the border. The girl, terrified, cried all the tears she had at the police station. They put her in a house for found children. The day after she was hung in the bathroom, the shower curtain around her neck.

The fourth story is a painting, once more by Sharon Ellis. She defies time. Today the painting is my husk, invisibly containing this girl and all the victims of poverty. I need this painting, because the air in it cries drops of blood. The painting understands.



Sharon Ellis Winter Bouquet, 2009 Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

Sharon Ellis
Winter Bouquet, 2009
Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

WINTER BOUQUET       It took one full year of Sharon Ellis’ life to paint Winter Bouquet. It’s hardly a painting. Had an explosion of stars been captured by an imaginary camera, the result wouldn’t be far from the snow crystals that open their hearts, and pulse through a night of wishes celebrated for their light not less than for lightness: natural snow flakes are covered with modesty. Not here. Brush strokes are invisible. Maybe the artist’s brain sent emotive hints directly to the canvas, determined to keep them in movement. These are burning snow flowers. Their spiky edges, geometrical, prick the cerebral cortex to let the blue in to our brains, as it was shaped by the artist. “Something confining in what I do, fascinating: a point is a snapshot of time. You want time like music, to imply different times in the same picture, different seasons in the same painting.”

Emily Dickinson:  The brain is wider than the sky / For -put them side by side- /  the one the other will contain / with ease -and you-beside / the brain is deeper than the sea- / for-hold them-blue to blue- / the one the other will absorb- / as sponges-buckets- do- /  the brain is just the weight of god- / for-heft them-pound by pound- / and they will differ-if they do- /  as syllable from sound-

Sharon Ellis’ winter flowers come from the distance between dreams and words and images. They bring out the splendor of fragility, a freedom stronger than any exterior order; oh, could they speak they would say: “I didn’t remember snow. I was in Virginia. I was six, in school, and they gave us blue paper.”

Dance of ideas for a woman with a blue guitar

Is this BLOG an experiment? I doubt it. It’s not a reasonable, predictable space. Words can be heavy. Stones, they were called. How to love them?

A place of pleasure, that’s my goal. Encounters and exchanges about art and life. A selected group of people will come and play the thinking game. They will send their thoughts by e-mail. We might be read by the global village. Let’s give them pleasure! Let’s learn to be light. Fleeting and temporary, at least for one year. Personal, fearless, bringing out uncertainties, pauses and hesitations, conflicts and doubts. Most of the artworks reveal idiosyncratic states of mind that are not allowed to writers: no smoking in the toilette during the flight! Unless they are poets.

I was an Eighteenth-century philosophy scholar who turned into a journalist and a maker of hand-sewn books. So my hands give the books a body as the secluded princesses of the old tales, making their lovers’ body with flour and water. None of them have a beating heart. Lack of love makes me sick. Lack of confidence, same effect. Plaintive commentaries about climate and institutional collapse are a black mask on my eyes. Reality is painted black. But The Arts keep me alive. Meredith Monk sings without words, only voice and feelings. I wish we could write like she sings.

No yes, no, I like, dislike, no evaluations. Intelligent kindness. No aggression nor rivalry. Reading, writing, “an exchange of desire becomes possible, of an enjoyment that was not foreseen. Games are not done, let’s play.” (Roland Barthes) Wind and earthquakes shake our landscape. Los Angeles is luminous in the middle of April. We can wear the on-line dress, all the possible colors and shapes, because ideas have colors, if someone cares. The kite needs hands holding the thread as well as the winds and the sky; it needs tension, inside and outside.

“I play them on a blue guitar / And then things are not as they are. / The shape of the instrument  / Distorts the shape of what I meant, / Which takes shape by accident. / Yet what I mean I always say. / The accident is how I play./  I still intend things as they are. / The greenish quaverings of day /  Quiver upon the blue guitar. (Wallace Stevens)