RED FOR CHRISTMAS : JEFFREY VALLANCE

At Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles ― NOW MORE THAN EVER

SCRATCHY NOTES OF A DREAMER
by Rosanna Albertini

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Satan hotels good art 2001 Pencil and pen on paper 22 1/2 x 30 inches Courtesy of Beth Rudin De Woody and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Satan Hates Good Art 2001
Pencil and pen on paper 22 1/2 x 30 inches Courtesy of Beth Rudin De Woody and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles

So what does good art do in 2016 that is different from the time of the Renaissance. Satan took his revenge then more than now, killing the artists, and everybody else, at a very young age. If you take it cum grano salis, simply following your good sense, you might say ‘a lot,’ and yet there is no change in the dreamlike essence of art. Think of Piero della Francesca painted eyes looking into eternity, almost extracting their bodies from earthly, painful struggles for survival. Good artists know perfectly that names and images and facts are masks of inner uncertainties, like stickers we peel from the refrigerator. We still don’t remember what’s inside.

JEFFREY VALLANCE, The Octopus of Life 2016 Mixed media on paper with commercial labels, stickers, and printed paper collage 23 x 29 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles Photo: Gene Aguri

JEFFREY VALLANCE, The Octopus of Life,  2016
Mixed media on paper with commercial labels, stickers, and printed paper collage 23 x 29 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles.  Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) 2016 Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 221/4 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella gallery, Los Angeles, Photo

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus),  2016
Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 221/4 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles, Photo Gene Ogami

The point is our presence in the landscape: and Jeffrey Vallance is the wizard artist showing our uncomfortable loss of power once our ordinary self confidence goes to hell. Satan’s most subtle intrusion. What happens then? There is no more separation between our animal self and the tentacular temptations of a rationalized landscape reducing to dead meat our hopes and desires. VONS, RALPH’S, IKEA, RITE AID, OFFICE DEPOT, HOME DEPOT, GOOGLE, you mention others, solve any problem, answer all the questions. Our red blood is spilled into money. The more tentacles expand, the more our brain is emptied, like an impersonal bag filled with surprising and repetitive acts of obedience. Economy is so ‘reasonable.’ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel shivers in his grave. He knows he was the first to tell -and write- that real things are reasonable. He didn’t expect poets and visual artists were going to be his future fellows, even those who never read his name. It all depends on what one means by ‘real things.’

Real are the chicken scratches in Jeffrey Vallance words :

“Before I put an image on paper, I make the scratchy markings as a ground. To make these scribbly backgrounds for the drawings, first I must get myself into some kind of altered state, in which I find myself surprisingly ambidextrous. With eyes closed, both of my hands rapidly jerk across the paper, but unexpectedly my feet want to move with the same motion. The gyrations get so intense that it feels like my body is about to have a seizure. Although the process is quite exhausting, I enter into a rapture-like state bordering on uncontrollable laughter. Granted, the lines are just scribbles; however I can’t draw them the same way in normal consciousness.”

(From RUDIS TRACTUS – Rough Drawings, Edward Cella catalogue, 2016)

 

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Scared Fruit Bat (Pteripus tongamus) 2016 Mixed media on paper with commercial labels and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 inches Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Scared Fruit Bat (Pteripus tongamus) 2016
Mixed media on paper with commercial labels and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles.  Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Squirrely Squirrel (Sciurus griseus) 2016 Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage 23 x 29 inches Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Gallery, Los Angeles Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Squirrely Squirrel (Sciurus griseus),  2016
Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage 23 x 29 in.  Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles.  Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Kittens in a Basket 2016 Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 22 1/4 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, Kittens in a Basket,  2016
Mixed media on paper with printed paper collage, 22 1/4 x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

 

Images placed into such a rapturous and agitated field of signs springing from the artist’s uncontrolled hands can’t resist the frenzy dance of his spirit: whatever they represent, in their “animal realm of the spirit,”(Hegel again) a bat or a squirrel, a cat or a chicken (the eternal Blinky sacrificed to the supermarket devaluation of her single, unique living adventure), they look electrified. Estranged from the artificial mess of ordinary life on earth, terrified because they feel their skin cracking and bleeding, their fur becoming spare, drops of blood replacing their tears, filling their lips, their nose. As if exposed for what they are underneath the skin as the anatomic medical drawings of our obsessed Florentine memory. But the real one who is exposed is the artist: Jeffrey Vallance’s mental state of discomfort. His own skin is hung in every drawing. They are not the Cappella Sistina, where Michelangelo painted the laid skin of his body in a corner of the ceiling. They portray our own reality, from where dreams and values fly away like rockets beyond the horizon. “Leaving for dead in the Exterior World anything in it that is real.” Fernando Pessoa, the master of disquietude.

“The dreamer is not superior to the active man because dreams are superior to reality. The superiority of the dreamer derives from the fact that dreaming is more practical than living, and that the dreamer extracts from life a grander, more varied pleasure than that of the man of action. …
Since life is essentially a mental state [I can see Hegel’s large smile] and everything we do or think is valid for us to the degree we think it’s valid, its validity depends entirely on us. 
The dreamer is one who sends notes, and the notes he sends course through the city of his spirit in the same way notes do in reality.
What does it matter to me that the paper money of my soul can never be converted into gold, when there is never gold in the factious alchemy of life?”
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, Translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998

Thank you Jeffrey, your dreams are my gold.

JEFFREY VALLANCE, D.C. Hypodermic 2016 Mix media on paper with sticker, and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

JEFFREY VALLANCE, D.C. Hypodermic, 2016
Mix media on paper with sticker, and printed paper collage 22 x 29 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Los Angeles. Photo: Gene Ogami

BETYE SAAR : HER WONDER

An imaginary dialogue between

BETYE IRENE SAAR and WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

Paterson  New Jersey    and     Los Angeles  California 

BETYE SAAR, Every Secret Things (Almost) 1982 Mixed media collage on paper 20 x 13.25" Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Every Secret Things (Almost) 1982. Mixed media collage on paper 20 x 13.25 in  Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

Note from the editor, Rosanna Albertini. This dialogue is based on my impression that her visual poems made with found objects and his poems made with words -we find them as well around us, since the time our ears could grasp them- are nothing but small machines endowed with an “intrinsic, undulant, a physical more than a literary character.” (W.C.W.) Not only they are not sentimental, their subject is not their point. As works of art Saar’s visual poems are made as islands of perception, imaginary cages for human stories touched with gentleness, not to break their skin or alter their movable presence in her mind.

The price she pays to shape her land of wonder is distance: objects coming from other  lives, and fragmented images that were probably lost or hidden in her brain if she needs to add stitches to drawings and glue as if preventing them from vanishing, pinning them down. Time, in her art, seems to struggle against the eternal present of the art work when it’s finished, and becomes a still, impenetrable combination of feelings about all the things that stir our lives and do not have the same clarity of words. Directions, orientation, destiny, chance? They are cages for feelings before they solidify in concepts. Collages on paper, three-dimensional  assemblages are simply things living their own life.

They declare nothing. It is the hidden sparkle they surround with beauty that pulls our hair.

Their eyes look at us forcing us to wonder about what we do not, we can not see. The poet writes:

So let us love
confident as is the light
in its struggle with darkness

and the visual artist takes the wind in the same direction, through darkness and light. Darkness is time painted by history, and caged in words, but for her as an artist darkness is a fact that patiently, stubbornly, she brings back to light. Game of chance, or game of destiny: she is standing in the shadow of love. Which is the real step out of darkness, and makes each piece of her art a strong physical metaphor, a cage for magic, and a house for ideas.

(The poem is the second part of Shadows, in William Carlos Williams Selected Poems, (selected by dr. Williams himself), first published in 1949, New York, New Directions Books.

The images are from Betye Saar’s double exhibition: Blend and Black White at Roberts & Tilton Culver City, CA Oct.-Dec. 2016)

 

BETYE SAAR. Standing in the Shadow of Love

BETYE SAAR, Standing in the Shadow of Love  2000, Mixed media assemblage  18 x 26.25 x 1.50 in  Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

 

BETYE SAAR, Destiny of Latitude and Longitude

BETYE SAAR, Destiny of Latitude and Longitude, 2010.  Mixed media assemblage  54 x 43 x 20.5 in  Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

Ripped from the concept of our our lives
and from all concept
somehow, and plainly,

the sun will come up
each morning
and sink again.

BETYE SAAR, To Follow Separate Stars 1982, Mixed media collage on paper 18 x 15.5" Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, To Follow Separate Stars 1982, Mixed media collage on paper 18 x 15.5 in   Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

So that we experience
violently
every day
two worlds
one of which we share with the
rose in bloom
and one,
by far the greater,
with the past, the world of memory,
the silly world of history,
the world
of the imagination.

BETYE SAAR, Heartbreak Hotel, 2016 Mixed media assemblage 15.75 x 8.75 x 4" Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Heartbreak Hotel, 2016 Mixed media assemblage 15.75 x 8.75 x 4 in Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Heartbreak Hotel, 2016 Mixed media assemblage 15.75 x 8.75 x 4" Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Heartbreak Hotel, 2016 Mixed media assemblage 15.75 x 8.75 x 4 in Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Illusion of Freedom,

BETYE SAAR, Illusion of Freedom, 2009 Mixed media collage  8.5 x 18.5 x 11 in  Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

Which leaves only the beasts and trees,
crystals
with their refractive
surfaces
and rotting things
to stir our wonder.

BETYE SAAR, Always Just Out of Focus 1982, Mixed media collage on paper 18 x 13.5" Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Always Just Out of Focus 1982, Mixed media collage on paper 18 x 13.5 in   Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Collecting Twilight Corners 1982, Mixed media collage on paper 19.5 x 14.75" Courtesy of the artists and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

BETYE SAAR, Collecting Twilight Corners 1982, Mixed media collage on paper 19.5 x 14.75 in   Courtesy of the artists and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

Save for the little
central hole
of the eye itself
into which
we dare not stare too hard
or we are lost.

BETYE SAAR, Red Bone Black Scouts

BETYE SAAR, Red Bone Black Scouts, 2001   Mixed media collage on paper  17.5 x 25 in  Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

The instant
trivial as it is
is all we have
unless-unless
things the imagination feeds upon, the scent of the rose,
startle us anew.

BETSYE SAAR, Dark Times 2015, Mixed media on vintage washboard 21.25 x 8.5 x 2.5"

BETSYE SAAR, Dark Times, 2015   Mixed media on vintage washboard 21.25  x  8.5  x  2.5 in   Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City LA

BETYE SAAR, Serving Time

BETYE SAAR, Serving Time, 2010  Mixed media assemblage  64 x 17.25 x 9.75 in  Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA