Posts Tagged ‘Belgian art’
Last night’s rash of gallery openings (see previous post for full list) saw a personal five-exhibition run.
And a few terribly embarrassing fanboy moments – complete with flushed face, heart palpitations, and a mortifying malfunction of public etiquette. Meeting Belgian artist Wim Delvoye is at the top of that list.
Friends and numerous acquaintances will testify to my wince-inducing geek-out last night.
Art-wise, pick of the night: Yasumasa Morimura: Requiem for the XX Century – Self-Portraits in Motion at Ikkan Art Gallery.
Miss of the night: Monumental Southeast Asia, Valentine Willie Fine Art.
With Josef Ng.
Hyung Koo Kang admiring Isaac Julien’s work.
RICHARD KOH FINE ART & ARNDT PRESENTS (at Richard Koh Fine Art)
YASUMASA MORIMURA: REQUIEM FOR THE XX CENTURY – SELF-PORTRAITS IN MOTION (at Ikkan Art Gallery)
IN HOUSE ADOPTION, MITHU SEN (at Galerie Steph)
Like Barnes’ dirge for her lover, I wrote the following poem in the aftermath of a particularly distressing relationship, as a form of catharsis. It re-imagines the Greek myth of Hypnos, the god of sleep, and his obsession with the mortal, Endymion. So besotted with the youth’s pulchritude was the deity that he granted him the gift (?) of sleep with open eyes – so as to better delight in Endymion’s lovely visage for all eternity.
My jumping-off point though, was not so much the fact of infatuation, but the asymmetry between the waking god and the sleeping boy, and the emotional disjuncture represented therein. This is what Athenaeus of Naucratis recorded in his Deipnosophistae:
And Licymnius the Chian, saying that Hypnos [Sleep] was in love with Endymion, represents him as refusing to close the eyes of the youth even when he is asleep; but the god sends his beloved one to sleep with his eyelids still open, so that he may not for a single moment be deprived of the pleasure of contemplating them. And his words are these:-
But Hypnos much delighted
In the bright beams which shot from his eyes,
And lulled the youth to sleep with unclosed lids.
(From C. D. Yonge’s translation of Athenaeus, available in full online. See here for the relevant quote.)
Indeed, delight was the initial driving force – but one is reminded of Tennyson’s Tithonus, who after an eon of immortality without youth, begs his divine lover, the Dawn, to let him die: “Release me, and restore me to the ground:/ Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:/ Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;/ I earth in earth forget these empty courts,/ And thee returning on thy silver wheels.”
Perhaps, too, in time, the deity may have wearied of merely gazing upon his somnolent leman, and desired more than an object of admiration lost in the throes of a deep slumber. Painful then must have been the wide open eyes, promising a window into the beloved’s soul, but which in truth held out no more than an elusive figment …
Can one then love a stranger ?
A detail from Fernand Khnopff‘s I Lock the Door Upon Myself (1891), in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
Hypnos at Home
High above the city presides the god
deep in a hushed mansion.
The marble lies silent;
the drapes occlude.
A body sleeps on the leather couch.
He is watched.
White flesh glows lukewarmly,
and the soft down does not stir.
Open eyes stare –
The glass-clear orbs are certain.
The bouquet trembles and lets fall
a violet petal.
The god is moved. Grief grips the graven air.
He stretches out a finger;
“What do you see?”