MOTHER AND DAUGHTER

Yves Trémorin’s HOMMAGE à L’OMBRE – IN PRAISE of SHADOW

by Rosanna Albertini

Ce n’est pas l’indifférence qui enlève le poids de l’image … c’est l’amour, l’amour extreme.
It is not indifference that lifts the image’s weight … it is love, extreme love.
(Roland Barthes)

mere_28858
jard_21273

Photographs by YVES TREMORIN
from two series: Mother and Daughter and Mystic Garden

I will never know if the name of things is stronger than their physical presence, if it adds meaning to the surrogate images of what’s naturally ‘visible.’ I’m not even sure that the best photographs and films are meant to reassure our mind about the truth of what we see, for instance.

Yves Trémorin, magic fisher and maker of images in Saint Malo, Bretagne, often gives me the impression he’s taking details from bodies he loves as if he had his eyes closed, and in such way he could let the details escalate his mental touch, his effort to capture the unique, ungraspable presence of women he knows, from which he was born. It’s a fact.

He photographed his grandmother in 1984, when she was ninety-one. And his mother now, in 2017, ninety-one years old. Right now, their images share the same age, look at them now and here they are: mother, daughter. A son looks at them, reveals the power of their nameless presence: women, first of all.

cette_femme_003

cette_femme_004

They are living molecules of vision. There existence, like the stem of a flower, a leaf wrinkled by her journey through life. If natural existence is the subject, their body, a female body, finds a powerful stance in the space of art. If it is nor clear who’s who, as they are both mother and daughter, we focus, instead, on their appearance surrounded by shadows, by all the stories and times that we do not know that feed their images and were their lives. We start dreaming about those images: the woman lost in her flowered dress comes from mythological times, she is Eve in her old age, still offering something mysterious, not an apple, it can be a piece of bread or a snake. She smiles. Would you take it?

cette_femme_006

Existence in art is artificial, construction and translation. Also in photography: “an art which is not certain, and is as uncertain as science would be, were it working on desirable or despicable bodies … impossible science of unique beings.” (Roland Barthes)

The artist is an eye, a ear, a nose, so is the viewer. Suppose things abandoned by names, and you will have a landscape of anonymous presences. The only reality they have is the perceived present: for them there is no such thing as the future. Don’t forget the person behind the camera. He explores the shadows: his profile projected on the wall repeats his mother profile. The two shadows face each other in silence; we close the eyes, it stays in us.

mere_28789

mere_28245

mere_25139

mere_23546

mere_24059

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best images I keep of my mother are not photographs. Her beautiful hands, the shape of her feet geometrically perfect because the middle toe was longer than the big toe, as in the Greek statues, are printed in my mind and bring back my extreme love for her along with a blow of darkness. Her past life shakes me, unrequested.

By the way mother, were you a virgin when you got married and immediately conceived me? As long  as you were alive, I never felt we lived on the same planet, although our bodies were unmistakably shaped in the same mold and your round shoulders made me always think of Helen of Troy. I don’t want you to be blamed forever as she has been, am I the only one in the dark? Perhaps something was muddy in your husband, father of mine. He did not go to your funeral, never puts flowers on your grave. Love must have been a needle with a thread in the eye: day by day sewing through the hole of the mood, to fix a fabric incessantly yielding. Please don’t pinch me, stories begin with a phantom.

A couple of new leaves on the cumquats shake their greenness to the morning, like wings getting ready to take off. A phantom flower blooms in my mind, it’s for you.

mg_w9

Roland Barthes, La chambre claire, Note sur la photographie, Gallimard, le Seuil, 1980

ROMA IN THE 50’s : MAKING FILMS WITHOUT MONEY

more or less …
a brief story of ITALIAN CINEMA IN THE 5O’s  

N.1

by ALBERTO ALBERTINI – January 2017 -Milano (Italy)

Photographs by Alberto Albertini

Just a reminder: Alberto is my uncle, my father’s brother. Ninety years on his shoulders did not decrease his enthusiasm and his imaginative life. All his pieces in this blog (13 so far) have been requested by me and written for the blog, as far as the scroll unfolded. This on line work that we share  is inquiry about the arts of our time as well as archeology of our family life, our common tree where we hung words and images as they surge in our mind, and feelings, regardless how hard they sometimes are.  RA

While films were made without money, at the edge of the city Rome was developing a modern style. Houses grew like mushrooms. Poles were hammered into the ground for the foundations, buildings got higher and, in a short time, filled the streets. There was a valley whose wild side, near the Vatican railroad, was the border between the urban reality and the countryside. Today one wouldn’t recognize the place. Alberto and his family lived in one of those new buildings.

r-citta-b0-2-014

dsc05292
Enrica, Alberto’s wife and his love for seventy five years, with their children Mietta and Claudio

One wouldn’t find in other nations, I think, the same cinema that was boiling in Italy during the 50s. True, it was coming after Neorealism, that took everybody by surprise a few years before, yet it was really something else, made out of of research and adventures coming not as much from the the Neorealism experience, as from financial constraints: how to make cinema without money.

Cesare Zavattini was the major reference point, with directors and screenwriters around him, often recurring in later films on and supported by Cinema Nuovo, Guido Aristarco’s magazine of cinematographic criticism (I still have some copies) in which Cesare Zavattini used to write his journal. His notes were minimal observations of the ways people behaved or were pleased to utter words in vogue. He cared about peculiar, necessary details to set the customs of an age.

Actors, wanting to check if it was worth being sign up for a film, or if it was risky, used to visit the set and see if Vittorio De Sica or Totò were in the cast. If so, that meant there was some money and it was good to accept the engagement. The minimum wage. One of the ways to provide money for movies was the minimum wage. The bank, the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, would grant the money in relation to the project, but most of all to the cast. Director and actors were on a list of names at the Bank specifying: with this cast, the minimum wage is… the presence of a certain actor, or actresses in the movie meant the minimum wage would rise.

r-citta-b0-2-023

Serious films, comedies, the new comedy, impossible films, failed films, opera in a film. Nothing was neglected, neither serials nor social inquiries. I believe it was Zavattini who promoted a series of inquiry films, with no equivalent afterwards. I remember: Italians swivel their heads to look at girls.

The first genetic mutation of neorealism was Due soldi di speranza [Two Cents Worth of Hope, 1952] in which realism was contaminated with the comedy chromosome and the brilliant dialogues of Titina De Filippo. Followed various Pane amore e … eccetera. Every time a film was successful, imitations in the same genre were proliferating.

r-citta-b0-2-010

Some films did not find financial support and remained incomplete: “Ciofanna, Ciofanna,” declaimed Ingrid Bergman in Santa Giovanna al rogo by Claudel, directed by Rossellini, and the actor who was supposed to perform with her refused to do it: if they don’t pay me, I don’t perform! Who ever saw that movie? Maybe that was the reason why Ingrid Bergman went back to the U.S.

A Filomena Marturano shot by Eduardo De Filippo, with Titina in it, was never released. Some films with unknown financial support, maybe not very interesting, never went around. I remember Vacanze al mare [Vacation by the Sea] with beautiful music by Nino Rota but never released. Un medico di campagna [A countryside doctor], in which a striking Giovanna Ralli appeared for the first time, maybe with Fabrizi, was dispersed into space, or came out with a different title.

Rossellini in India is a book dedicated to this period. The story of his affair with Sonali das Gupta is believable, yet another malicious story says that, while the crew was shooting the film, he seduced a guru’s wife. And the two stories aren’t incompatible. A seducer, Rossellini? No doubt, but it would be better to call him an enchanter. His favorite editor, Iolanda Benvenuti, told me that often times she and the other women collaborating with him had to wait hours and hours in order to work, making up in their minds violent reactions against him as soon as he would appear: and he happened to arrive at ten in the evening, very quickly enchanting them all. They were incapable of reacting.

Professional film making was a concept in evolution also because, in order to be professional, one had to adapt to the new technical possibilities. Neorealist films had proved it was possible to work with actors picked up from the street, not actors at all, thanks to the director’s talent and thanks to the possibility to dub, replacing the non-actors voice with the voice of real actors. The sound, recorded along with images, had the only function of guiding the post-synchronization, in a word, the dubbing.

One could hear the director’s voice telling the actors how to move: here you go, forward, go on, continue as you are doing, turn, stare at the house… and so on. Many males and females, in such a way, stepped into the film world without acting or diction school, and it often happened that good looks helped more than expressive abilities. Some of them studied, and improved, some others left, women especially, a few ended with a good marriage. Some industrialists created production companies to organize the promotion of their protégées. Rizzoli created an important house of production, and signed up Miriam Bru.

dsc05306

Claudio (left), Mietta (right)

Actors swing in their jobs, so between pauses and waiting moments either for the scene requirements or the set preparation, they get lost in chatting, gossiping about colleagues. Rumors about Vittorio De Sica telling he had two families, and used to spend the evening with the legal one, but instead of sleeping there he was spending the night with the other. The two ‘wives,’ I think, were Giuditta Rissone and Maria Mercader. He was constantly searching for money that he regularly lost gambling, and this was the reason why he accepted daily jobs the producer was using to increase the minimum wage and not spend too much. Yet, in the meantime De Sica shot films such as Umberto D.

Abandoned by Rossellini when he shot Stromboli with Ingrid Bergman, Anna Magnani was the protagonist of La carrozza d’oro by Jean Renoir. In the middle of a financial storm, and waiting for the director, Anna Magnani let herself go through long conversations about her life. At forty eight she had the opportunity, in Bellissima, with Visconti, to perform the non-acting, along with Walter Chiari on the bank of a stream, as if they were two people meeting there to discuss something. The dialogue unfolds a without script, only following the director’s generic suggestions. The top of realism or the strongest truth? It wouldn’t be art, would it? The scene couldn’t be better, a flower for anthology.

After the black and white intense realism, Luchino Visconti shoots Senso in color (1954); the battles scenes, as the touch of the artist had made them totally believable, are still impressed in my mind. Was he inspired by Giovanni Fattori’s paintings? Meanwhile people spread stories about how expensive it was to work with Visconti: for the curtains in Senso, he wanted to have them dyed the color of tea using real tea!!

dsc05284

Claudio with sheep

Dino Risi shot Poveri ma Belli [Poor but Beautiful] 1957, launching a new pseudo-realist trend with actors who later became professional. Luciano Emmer, after Le ragazze di piazza di Spagna 1952 shot a documentary about Picasso artworks in Provence, followed by Camilla, 1954, the story of a maid. Vittorio De Seta was making his unusual documentaries, about fishing for swordfish, and Gillo Pontecorvo at his very beginnings made a report on Porta Portese in Rome. (To be continued)

dsc05302

Alberto with his children in the Fifties

più o meno …
piccola storia del CINEMA ITALIANO ANNI ’50

di ALBERTO ALBERTINI – Gennaio 2017 – Milano

Mentre i film erano fatti senza soldi, in periferia Roma diventava moderna. Le case crescevano come funghi. I lavoratori battevano a lungo pali nel terreno per fissare le fondamenta, poi iniziavano a far salire gli edifici e in poco tempo avevano riempito la contrada. Il confine tra città e campagna è uno dei fianchi della vallata. Oggi la zona è irriconoscibile. Alberto e la famiglia vivevano in una delle nuove case con appartamenti.

dsc05299

Non credo che si possa trovare, in altre nazioni, un cinema paragonabile a quello che bolliva negli anni cinquanta in Italia. Se è vero che esso era successivo alla grande sorpresa destata dal neorealismo, pochi anni prima, è da rilevare come in realtà da esso si sia discosto e proliferato in miriadi di ricerche e di avventure, in parte conseguenza dell’esperienza, non tanto estetica del neorealismo, ma finanziaria: cioè come fare del cinema senza soldi.

Il filo conduttore nella direzione ricerca fa riferimento a Cesare Zavattini col supporto di registi sceneggiatori, ricorrenti spesso nei film a seguire e a loro volta supportati dalla rivista di critica cinematografica Cinema Nuovo, di Guido Aristarco ( ne ho ancora alcuni numeri ) sulla quale Cesare Zavattini teneva un diario. Annotava osservazioni minimaliste sui comportamenti o sul compiacimento che alcuni provano nel pronunciare parole in voga, a riprova della sua attenzione ai dettagli, ai particolari determinanti per inquadrare il costume di un’epoca.

Per verificare se una scrittura valesse la pena, non fosse un rischio, gli attori si recavano sul set per vedere se erano presenti, e lavoravano, Vittorio de Dica o Totò. Se c’erano, significava che c’erano anche i soldi e si poteva accettare la scrittura. Il minimo garantito. Una delle modalità per finanziare i film era quella del minimo garantito. La banca finanziatrice, cioè la Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, concedeva il finanziamento in funzione del progetto ma soprattutto del cast. Il regista gli attori, avevano il loro listino presso la banca che diceva: con questo cast, il minimo garantito è … la presenza di certi attori, o attrici, nei film, non aveva altro scopo che di elevare il minimo garantito.

Film impegnati, film commedia, la nuova commedia, film impossibili, film falliti, opera lirica filmata. Nulla di trascurato, inclusi film a episodi o di indagine. Credo proprio che sia stato Zavattini a promuovere una serie, forse senza seguito, di film indagine. Ricordo: Gli italiani si voltano a guardare le ragazze.
La prima mutazione genetica del neorealismo fu Due soldi di speranza, 1952, film realista ma con il cromosomo della commedia e i dialoghi brillanti di Titina de Filippo. Seguirono i vari Pane amore e…  ecc. da ogni film di successo proliferavano le imitazioni di genere.

Film che i soldi non li hanno trovati e sono rimasti incompleti: “Ciofanna, Ciofanna,” declamava Ingrid Bergman, nella Santa Giovanna al rogo di Claudel, regia di Rossellini, e l’attore che doveva recitare insieme a lei si rifiutava: se non mi pagano, io non recito! Chi ha mai visto quel film? Forse è per questo che Ingrid tornò in USA. 

Una Filumena Marturano girata da Eduardo e con Titina, mai uscito. Film che non si sa come siano stati finanziati perché di scarso valore e mai visti in circolazione. Ricordo un Vacanze al mare con un bel commento musicale di Nino Rota ma mai uscito. Un medico di campagna, la prima apparizione inquietante di Giovanna Ralli, forse con Fabrizi, disperso nello spazio o uscito con altro titolo.
Rossellini in India, è un libro dedicato a questo periodo. Spiega credibilmente la sua storia con Sonali das Gupta, ma i maligni raccontano che mentre la troupe girava Roberto seduceva la moglie di un guru e le due storie non sono incompatibili. Rossellini seduttore? Sicuramente, meglio incantatore. Mi raccontava Iolanda Benvenuti, la montatrice, di sua fiducia, che spesso lei e le collaboratrici l’attendevano ore e ore per lavorare e loro si facevano progetti di violente reazioni non appena fosse arrivato, magari arrivava alle dieci di sera e in breve tempo le incantava tutte senza che fossero capaci di reagire.

La professionalità era un concetto in evoluzione anche perché i professionisti erano influenzati dalle nuove possibilità tecniche. Il cinema neorealista aveva dimostrato che era possibile lavorare anche con attori presi dalla strada, cioè non attori, grazie al talento del regista e alla possibilità di doppiare, di sostituire la voce dei non attori con quella di attori. L’audio, ripreso insieme all’immagine, serviva solamente come guida per la post sincronizzazione, il doppiaggio. E si udiva la voce del regista dare suggerimenti agli ‘attori’: ecco, vai avanti, avanti, avanti così, girati, fissa la casa… ecc. Così, molti e molte entrarono nel cinema senza scuola di recitazione e di dizione e, spesso, più che le capacità espressive giovava il bell’aspetto fisico. Qualcuno studiò, si perfezionò, qualcuna uscì di scena e qualcuna concluse con un buon matrimonio. Alcuni industriali misero in piedi case di produzione per promuovere le loro protette. Rizzoli creò una importante casa di produzione, e scritturò Miriam Bru.

Il lavoro degli attori è altalenante perché composto da pause, attese, sia per le esigenze di scena che per la preparazione dei set e dunque non rimane loro che di chiacchierare, pettegolare sui loro colleghi. Di De sica dicevano che aveva due famiglie e lui passava la sera con quella legale ma poi invece di andare a letto con questa si recava dall’altra. Le due ‘mogli’, mi pare, erano Giuditta Rissone e Maria Mercader. Aveva continuamente bisogno di denaro che regolarmente perdeva al gioco e per questo accettava lavori a giornata; servivano al produttore per elevare il minimo garantito e spendere poco, ma intanto girava anche film come Umberto D.

Anna Magnani, lasciata da Rossellini mentre lui girava Stromboli con la Bergman, era protagonista ne La carrozza d’oro di Jean Renoir, del 1952. Nel mezzo di vicissitudini finanziarie burrascose, nell’attesa del regista la Magnani si concedeva lunghe conversazioni sulla sua vita. A quarantotto anni ebbe l’occasione in Bellissima, 1951, con Visconti, di recitare la non-recitazione insieme a Walter Chiari, sull’orlo del fiumiciattolo, come fossero due persone che si trovano lì per discutere. Il dialogo si svolge senza copione seguendo solo le generiche indicazioni del regista. Il massimo del realismo o il massimo della verità? Non sarebbe arte perché, vero? Eppure la scena è insuperabile, da antologia.

Dopo l’intenso realismo del bianco e nero, Visconti gira Senso a colori, 1954, mi rimangono impresse le scene delle battaglie con il tocco dell’artista che sa ricostruire l’evento con totale credibilità. Si sarà ispirato ai dipinti di Giovanni Fattori? Intanto raccontavano che era costosissimo lavorare con lui: per i tendaggi di Senso volle che fossero tinti color the col the!!

Dino Risi girava Poveri ma belli nel 1957 lanciando un nuovo filone pseudo realista con attori che poi professionisti lo sono diventati. Luciano Emmer, dopo Le ragazze di piazza di Spagna del 1952 aveva girato un documentario sulle opere di Picasso in Provenza e successivamente Camilla, 1954, la storia di una domestica. Vittorio de Seta girava i suoi insoliti documentari, sulla pesca del pesce spada, e Gillo Pontecorvo, anche lui agli inizi, faceva un rapporto su Porta Portese. (Continua)

SHARON ELLIS : THE SPARKLING PITCH OF HER BRUSH

REFRACTIONS IN HER BRAIN — FLYING EMOTIONS

by Rosanna Albertini

SHARON ELLIS, Desert Bouquet, 2015 alkyd on paper, 16" x 12" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Desert Bouquet, 2015
alkyd on paper, 16″ x 12″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

You like it in the desert when tiny flowers bloom in the dryness as if petals of color had come from the sky, and you forget the sun, to listen to the air, the wind whispering about a river that disappeared, people and cattle who moved. And there you are, alone like the land around you, as blue as a bird. Your mind one with the space. Your nature shrinks to the bones. Red and blue burst into the hidden heart of what you still call a human. No gravity. No weight. Colors become the music contained in only one musical tempo; if you want, you can call it a painting.

 

SHARON ELLIS, Messenger, 2016 alkyd on paper, 12 1/8" x 16 1/8" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Messenger, 2016
alkyd on paper, 12 1/8″ x 16 1/8″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Firefly Fugue, 2016 alkyd on paper, 12 1/8" x 16 1/8" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

SHARON ELLIS, Firefly Fugue, 2016
alkyd on paper, 12 1/8″ x 16 1/8″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

A few threads attach Sharon’s mind to the world. Colors. The changing presence of light.
The thin silk of her hair. What she sees is a dissolving organism filling her pupil drop by drop: her own feeling of something, she doesn’t know what it is, if it is, where? A miniature expands with no feet. A liquid existence that doesn’t disappear. Maybe she gets lost like Alice in a field of weeds and shrinks and regrows until the fireflies put together a figure, it can be human, maybe not. The secret being of things.

SHARON ELLIS, Galactic Heart, 2015 alkyd on paper, 12" x 16" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

SHARON ELLIS, Galactic Heart, 2015
alkyd on paper, 12″ x 16″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

It is not an image. It is a feeling.
There is no image in the hero.
There is a feeling as definition.
How could there be an image, an outline,
A design, a marble soiled by pigeons?
The hero is a feeling, a man seen
As if the eye was an emotion,
As if in seeing we saw our feeling
In the object seen and saved that mystic
Against the sight, the penetrating,
Pure eye. Instead of allegory,
We have and are the man, capable
of his brave quickenings, the human
Accelerations that seem inhuman.

WALLACE STEVENS, Examination of the hero in a time of war, stanza xii

SHARON ELLIS, Ghost lake, 2016 alkyd on paper, 16 1/8" x 12 1/8" Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

SHARON ELLIS, Ghost lake, 2016
alkyd on paper, 16 1/8″ x 12 1/8″ Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Is this a trompe l’oeil? A trick for our eyes? Should I polish the words and soften them until they mutate into the strange fat fingers almost marzipan coral for the moonlight, sitting by the milky way? The physical, the chemical, have gone astray. Her existence – the artist is always there holding her brush – for the time being slips out of time, in an outer space completely silent. She is the only one who can glide on the mysterious planet where flatness, and poverty of spirit, are never, will never be admitted. Even the stars have lost their dust.

Sharon Ellis paintings on paper were presented at Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, in December 2016.

METAMORPHOSIS OF A FOLK TALE

THE GOLDEN GOOSE    by   SEAN SHIM-BOYLE

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016 Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016
Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016 Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

SEAN SHIM-BOYLE, The Golden Goose, 2016
Wood, Flex conduit, 138 x 382 x 131 in Courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh White

“Humans, like all living beings, have a special power, a power of transformation that is also suitable for things around us, as far as we make up our image of them. …

We are, first of all, a transformative organism more or less complex (according to the animal species) because life is necessarily given and taken, and modified, also between the persons and their environment.”
Paul Valéry, La liberté de l’esprit, 1939

The truth of this kind of statement is questionable; it’s Valéry’s positivistic intelligence of life as one bee house in which humans don’t have primacy that strikes me.

But, first of all, this is a New Year story: January 1, 2017

By Rosanna Albertini       A wall of a Los Angeles art gallery,* a few months ago, asked an artist to liberate his body from the white flatness between floor and ceiling. Nobody knew he had a body! An animal, hidden body. The more the artist opened up and moved out part of the geometrical forest of flat pieces of timber that keeps the wall steadily vertical, the more flexible the structure became, almost opening wings. The wooden surfaces became pieces of skin and bones pierced by nails, crying drops of glue, yellow tears but not like the gold the artist began to search for.

img_0203-2

img_0206-1
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Ovid, and so many artists from the dawn of time, Sean Shim-Boyle made his fingers the magic tool able to unveil and amplify a structure already far from the natural trees she had been, covered with leaves, pushing roots into the ground.
“Scarcely had I swallowed the strange juices that I suddenly felt my heart trembling within me, and my whole being yearned with desire for another element. Unable long to stand against it, I cried aloud: ‘Farewell, O Earth, to which I shall never return!’” This was Glaucous, speeding from the surface of Ovid’s book, Metamorphosis, chapter XIII.

The golden goose as well could scream: ‘Farewell O Wall, let me fly to my artist.’

img_0200-1
img_0193-2
img_0201-1
And the artist changes an inanimate stiffness into a movable variety of organs. Although silent, the wooden limbs develop a language directed to the eyes, pages of a story made with textures, colors and cuts. They push feathers of course, always made of wood, to open our mind to the popular versions of metamorphosis like the ones told by an old aunt near the stove, or by the bed, to children ready to grab the thread of her words and sew it into their dreams. Close your eyes with them, dear reader. Your sense of reality could expand. You might wake up holding a goose with golden feathers like the Brothers Grimm story about Dummling, a simpleton who picked up the precious bird from the roots of a tree and collected the funniest group of thieves around the goose. Trying to steal the golden feathers, the thieves remained glued to the goose in an absurd carousel. Looking at them, the king’s daughter finally laughed and married the Dummling. Same laughter in Italy, where the tale didn’t bring golden feathers, only a fine goose. But magic! As soon as somebody tried to grab her, the beast screamed: ‘Quack Quack, stick to my back!’ Another carousel of stuck people made the sad princess laugh.

img_0186-2

img_0196-2

 

No doubt Sean Shim Boyle felt in his own body a ‘power of transformation.’ Although The Golden Goose was supposed to be covered by something recalling a skin, the artist fell in love with the anatomical story. He gives us the pleasure to look at the inside of this sculpted body, and stop on his arbitrary ligaments. Back to physicality, veins in the panels, windows of connective tissues, spots of aging in flattened surfaces of bark. Changing colors. The signs of natural and artificial making are history and fairy tale at once. The gold is in the mind. His, mine, yours? Frankly, I couldn’t tell. Maybe it’s in the earth.
“A realm without perspective, a realm of sensuality and desire that gathers all into the lips’ uncertain space – uncertain because it straddles interior and exterior, self and other.
A space of fusion, of total osmosis.
A surface that envelops, that caresses the brain and the images that our thoughts produce.”
Giuseppe Penone, Branches of Thought, 2014

It’s a clear day, cold and without wind. Golden leaves are still on the trees in front of my window. I wish we could all laugh and mutate into our favorite imaginary body. Had this been possible we would have already started the journey. Instead, we start the day reading the New York Times.

img_0204-2

 

All the detail photos are by R.A.
*Various Small Fires Art Gallery, Los Angeles
Italian Folktales, selected and retold by Italo Calvino, Translated by George Martin, Pantheon Books, New York, 1980
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Pantheon Books, New York, 1944

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

FOTO DI TERRA : MARIO GIACOMELLI

typographer and self-taught photographer (1925-2000) from Senigallia (Italy)

MARIO GIACOMELLI’s  MOTHER EARTH

and my planet of leaves languages and trees meeting Anouar Brahem playing music on his oud (a Middle eastern string instrument)

MARIO GIACOMELLI, metamorfosi della terra, 385 x 278 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  metamorfosi della terra, 385 x 278 mm

Mario Giacomelli passed away three days ago of some years ago November 25th and Mario Merz who was born the same year 1925 followed him on November 3d a few years after why should it be easy to remember dates that are not not at all interesting numbers they don’t shape the history of the person nor do they participate in the natural history not to mention the natural art made with numbers which is sister to music and spirals in the shells

Dans ce progrès invincible, et comme impeccable, de la forme, … qui semble créer son temps propre, on admire la combinaison du rythme, marqué par les taches ou les aspérités régulières, et du movement indivisible. C’est là voir de la musique. Paul Valéry, L’homme et la coquille 1937
an invincible almost impeccable progress of form… seems to create its own rhythm holding spots or regular asperities and an indivisible movement that is like seeing music

each of us surfing on a limited truth flows through life where time doesn’t exist as a peculiar volume buzzing with particles it can’t be stopped until mother earth disappears in meanders of memories that remake, retell the story so many times there is not a first image anymore over unfinished thoughts

tonight I don’t feel like breathing with commas and periods

I wish words could be sensitive like Mario Merz (1925-2003) forced them to be foglie tenere di acqua leaves tender with water or Giacomelli calling his pictures foto di terra photos made with dirt  rather than photos of earth because Italians at least some of us think of ideas like odd ghosts slipping away from the physical matter of a decomposed and ruined space where the animal person looks for abstraction – freedom

it didn’t happen to me for a while this need of disobeying it makes me see words sinking into Giacomelli’s blacks and whites while written lines are traced like furrows with trees and bushes in a wood of punctuation left behind for writers obsessed with grammatical intersections their soul not knowing where to go

effortlessly ancient habits join our art as if calligraphy and drawing were only one thing sharing the same space as five or six centuries ago in hybrid Chinese paintings meant to be poems of words and nuanced landscapes

Extraordinary events came to shake suddenly the quotidian life of millions individuals. We are projected toward the unknown, with immense fears, joys and hopes. What’s happening goes beyond imagination. It took me a long time to be able to write this music. Anouar Brahem Souvenance

Giacomelli says that language becomes the environment within which the image breathes as it flies toward a new life called art

more can be seen in a landscape that is language more than anything else sometimes plowed by the peasants under the artist’s request

more can be felt through the energy that connects our hands brain and feet to the larger scene of reality with it’s musical score inviting us to listen and share our part in it

ahead of the current localism Anouar Brahem’s music is an harmonious journey of intermingled songs that seem to pick from music of every kind petals of hope and strings of voices determined to expand together in a long rope of sounds free from style traditional forms and rigid obligations for beauty herself sings from the window waiting for the prince

the wind that goes around the column
goes round inside the column
it happens when one paints an image
giving reality to an image, the house runs with the world.

Mario Merz, Lo spazio è curvo o diritto 1990

MARIO GIACOMELLI IN HIS IMAGES AND WORDS

Attraverso le foto di terra io tento di uccidere la natura, cerco di toglierle quella vita che le è stata data non so da chi ed è stata distrutta dal passaggio dell’uomo per ridarle una vita nuova…

Through photos of earth (foto di terra) I try to kill nature, and take away from her a life received from I don’t know whom and destroyed by humans to give her a new life…

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 300 x 405 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 300 x 405 mm

Signs like light tension. It is like having emptied, carved the white out and filled it with dark.

Language becomes the environment within which the image breathes.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, Pesa di coscienza sulla natura, 388 x 283 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 388 x 283 mm

The mark remains, the scar, the symbolic image of my intervention, as an act of expression to escape from a reality that does not leave space for creativity.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, storie di terra, 235 x 300 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  storie di terra, 235 x 300 mm

I wish I could slide under the skin of things, to show the energy passing through my soul and the things around me

To express the potential that overturns the real into poetry

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 392 x 298 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 392 x 298 mm

I am not interested in repeating the visible things, but making visible what filters through my unconscious.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, Le fogli, 258 x 390 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  le foglie, 258 x 390 mm

My latest ideas that are growing inside me from typography. In my latest photographs, naturally also in Landscapes, there are many apparitions. The object is always modified, but remains as a memory with the signs of the antique and present time, with a new memory, which is also that of the gesture, the movement, the document.

MARIO GIACOMELLI, presa di coscienza sulla natura, 305 x 404 mm

MARIO GIACOMELLI,  presa di coscienza sulla natura, 305 x 404 mm

Archivio Mario Giacomelli – Sassoferrato
http://www.archiviomariogiacomelli.it

These and others  photographs by Giacomelli are currently on display at Galleria Studio Guastalla, Modern and Contemporary Art, Milano (Italy).  I went to see the exhibition because Silvia Guastalla, curator and director of the gallery, decades ago was one of my students in the Department of Philosophy of the University of Pisa. A great joy to see her again and having her this time guiding me through Giacomelli’s art.