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Saturday, 17 January 2015

the something that is not nothing....

Salvador Dalí. Le Désir Hyperrationel. Glass and metal. 1984

Recently, I was in the Winnipeg Art Gallery for the exhibition Dalí, Up Close; a survey of works by twentieth century Surrealist Salvador Dalí. In amongst the expected melting clocks and waxed moustaches, was a small, sea-coloured glass and metal sculpture entitled Le Désir Hyperrationel

Le Désir is a miniature rendition of the Venus de Milo, but it’s a Venus deconstructed. Or maybe, surgically altered. Gutted. The female body -- created to contain, made for fullness -- here is emptied. A doorway is cut through her torso — an opening, an absence. A void that contains "the pregnant possibility of everything.”*

Beside her on a pedestal is the missing piece of her abdomen, surmounted by her head — also absent from her body. From the body. The body that has been reduced to a frame; framing nothing. Framing everything.

René Magritte. L'embellie. 1962

Compare this to René Magritte’s L’embellie — a painting of a door frame, implausibly erected on a beach, opening onto sea and sky. Opening onto emptiness, onto absence. An unlikely presence that frames our perception of the void beyond it. A frame within a picture, that challenges how and what we see. A doorway from here to here.

J.R. The Ballerina in Containers, Le Havre, France. Photograph. 2014.

Or look at contemporary photographer J.R.’s 2014 work, The Ballerina in Containers, Le Havre, France; an image in which the absence created by the open doors of a shipping container is occupied by a presence. By a female body; a dancer -- both artist and work of art. The form in the void that gives perspective; that brings life. The body framed. Contained. 

The something that is not nothing.

* Michael Paul, in axel vervoordt: wabi inspirations, page 83.

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