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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Phantom, a film by Toshio Matsumoto

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Yet another short film by Matsumoto, Phantom (1975) differs from the previous examples by being less abstract but thoroughly inexplicable. Disconnected sequences—a naked woman on a beach; a man performing yoga asanas outdoors; an eyeball floating over a city; two people walking round a flickering statue—are intercut with close-ups of a woman’s face. As with Atman, most of the footage looks like it was shot on infra-red film. Once again, a Japanese composer provides the score that hold the piece together, this one being the work of Jo Kondo. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
White Hole, a film by Toshio Matsumoto
Atman, a film by Toshio Matsumoto
Metastasis, a film by Toshio Matsumoto

 


The art of David Haines

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Meatboy and Alien I (2015).

I’ve not added much to the gay artists archive recently even though it continues to be the most popular destination for all the silent visitors. David Haines is a recent discovery who fits the bill, a British artist resident in Amsterdam who specialises in meticulous pencil drawings and watercolours of homoerotic scenarios, many of which are coercive and implicitly violent. There’s a selection at the Upstream Gallery and more at the artist’s website.

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Crane (2012).

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Boy with a Veil (2011).

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The art of Edmond van Offel, 1871–1959

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Edmond van Offel was a Belgian artist who Philippe Jullian features in two of his books about Symbolist art but whose work I’d not seen anywhere else—at least until now. All the pictures here are from a collection published in Paris in 1902 which may be the one Jullian used for his selections. The book contains both Jullian drawings together with a great deal of other work comprising illustrations, vignettes, bookplates and also some of the artist’s writings. Offel’s combination of detailed line-work and attenuated figures is reminiscent of Charles Ricketts who may have been an influence.

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Symbolist Temptations

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The Temptation of St Anthony (1883) by Fernand Khnopff.

This should really be more Symbolist Temptations since Odilon Redon belongs among these artists. Redon may have devoted more of his time than anyone else to the saint’s travails but other artists also took up the theme. Fernand Khnopff seldom depicted religious subjects but his painting—an early work—is remarkable for the way it reduces the phantasmagoric pageants of previous centuries to a simple face-to-face confrontation.

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The Temptation of St Anthony (1878) by Félicien Rops.

Félicien Rops, on the other hand, can always be relied upon to be vulgar and blasphemous in equal measure. The Devil lurking behind the cross was probably added to balance the composition but that silly expression makes the picture seem more comical than shocking. Similar skull-faced cherubs may be found in other Rops prints.

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Odilon Redon’s Temptations

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Saint-Antoine: Au secours, mon Dieu! (Saint Anthony: Help me, O my God!)

St. Anthony and his temptations provide another connection between the Surrealists and the Symbolists via Gustave Flaubert and his phantasmagoric drama. Flaubert’s The Temptation of St Anthony (1874) doesn’t quite stand in relation to the art of the time as does Oscar Wilde’s Salomé but, with its predominant themes of sex, death and spiritual transcendence, it both suited and pre-empted the concerns of the Decadence. Odilon Redon was particularly taken with the book, and from 1888 to 1896 produced three sets of lithograph illustrations. The examples here are from the final set of 24 images. A few of these are the ones you see most often in Symbolist studies, often in poor reproductions, but the other sets have some memorable moments. What’s most notable about all the drawings is how little the saint appears in them, Redon choosing to depict either the visions or the subjects of Flaubert’s philosophical discussions. See the complete set here.

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Et partout ce sont des Colonnes de basalte, … la lumière tombe des voûtes (And on every side are columns of basalt, … the light falls from the vaulted roof)

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Mes baisers ont le gout d’un fruit qui se fondrait dans ton cœur! … Tu me dédaignes! Adieu! (My kisses have the taste of fruit which would melt in your heart! … You distain me! Farewell!)

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Des fleurs tombent, et la tête d’un python paraît (Flowers fall and the head of a python appears)

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Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

Previously on { feuilleton }

    anygun.jpg   giger18.jpg

 


 

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin