Sunday, 7 February 2010

Mutability

If you take a large quantity of corn flour, mix it with water then you’ll come close to an idea of woman. Try it. It looks soft and smooth, it’s even warm, you can scoop it up and it’ll sit in your hand, soft and rippling as you move your fingers, almost solid. But open your fingers and it’ll become fluid, run through them in globby, glutinous blobs and be reabsorbed into its origins where you won’t find the same handful again.

Push a finger into the mass and take it out, it’ll heal itself. It can be coloured and manipulated but it’ll always go back to where it began; a whole. It does not resist easily. It is seamless, it is solid, it is fluid, it is enigmatic but it’ll go off as quickly as any other organic material. As, of course, we all will. So this is a tribute to the lovely women I am privileged to know.

Consider the beautiful nymph of Aristide Maillol (1930) splendidly curated at the Musee L’Annonciade silhouetted as she is against the Gulf of St Tropez. Long may she stand there, proudly framing her magnificent body on those stout legs.

Maillol must have loved women to make them the subject of nearly all his sculptures - a short tour of the Musee Maillol website brings up the delightful sounding ‘Le Corps Subilme’ or The Exalted Body. (Especially pleasing is the discovery that three of his bronzes can be found on the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, a place I am having a delightful relationship with at the moment.)

Back to Maillol. The museum’s website says: ‘he imagined infinite variations around a smooth body … combining a rigorous conception of volumes within the body’s sensuality, mingling the attitudes’ gracefulness to the gesture’s naturalness.’ Sounds a lot like the corn flour exercise to me. Whoever would have thought that corn flour was sensual?

Here’s another rendition of woman, this time a photograph by surrealist artist Man Ray from his 1923 experimental film ‘La Retour a la Raison'.

Another lovely female body standing by a window, inside, looking out, waiting.

This post is going nowhere fast at the moment but it’s given me an opportunity to show the view from my room, what I see looking out; a wild wood…

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