Fantastic pen and ink double portrait by Hilus Anendorf
Leonora Carrington lived a life as surreal and fantastical as the images she painted. The last of the first generation of Surrealists, she consorted with the full pantheon of greats, from Dali to Picasso, and was hailed as “Mexico’s greatest living artist” before her death 94. Despite her storied career as bohemian darling, wild muse and prolific creator of paintings, books, sculpture and theater, she remained always humble, and resolutely uninterested in labels, or all the laurels that have been flung her way over the years.
Her approach to art was completely intuitive, stemming from the deep well of her soul, her own psychic underworld realm that she populated with fantastic beasts and mysterious figures. She disdained the overintellectualization and analysis of her work, her beliefs, her inspirations – believing fervently that the visual world she created was unnecessarily hindered by those determined to understand what it was all about. She was a provocateur, delighting in stirring up trouble amongst the staid, society types whose ilk she rejected. André Breton wrote of her in his Anthologie de l’humoir noir:
“Those respectable people who, for a dozen years, had invited her to dine in a prestigious restaurant have still not recovered from the embarrassment when they noticed that, while continuing to take part in the conversation, she had taken off her shoes and meticulously covered her feet in mustard.”
All of her work is infused with this dark sense of humor and mischief, particularly her writing. In her only novel, The Hearing Trumpet, she envisions herself as a wizened crone – the 92 year old Marian Leatherby, a deaf and toothless “drooling sack of decomposing flesh” who is cast-off by callous relatives to a sanatorium for the elderly. It is here that her life truly begins, when she finds her kind: a coven of witch-sisters who help her discover and unleash her mediumistic talents.
Carrington once said, “I wanted to appear like an old lady so I could poke fun at sinister things.” As a young woman growing up in her stultifyingly proper Lancashire family estate, she railed against convention, and was booted out of multiple boarding schools. In her story “The Debutante”, she recounts her fantasy of dressing up a hyena in her coming-out dress, and sending the wild thing to her debutante’s ball in her stead. Allowed at last to attend art school, she horrified her family by running off with a married man twice her age, who happened to be Max Ernst. The romance was tragic, and ill-fated – doomed by the Nazi invasion of France and their subsequent incarceration of her lover. After a nervous breakdown, which caused her to be thrown into an asylum, she fled Europe for Mexico, where she settled and flourished until her death.
“We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.”
— Leonora Carrington
Two short films for this week’s FAM; something to tide you over in preparation for the three day weekend here in the States. First up is Matter Fisher by David Prosser, the strange tale of a fisherman who finds an extremely magnetic piece of…something. Prosser’s style is dark and minimalist, lending everything a ghostly vibe. It’s a world so lonely, one has the distinct impression that the fisherman could very well be the only human being in existence.
Next is The Saga of Biôrn by the army of Benjamin J. Kousholt, Daniel D. Christensen, Mads Lundgaard Christensen, Jesper A. Jensen, Jonas K. Doctor, Steffen Lyhne, Pernille Ørum-Nielsen, Frederik Bjerre-Poulsen, Jonas Georgakakis. It tells the story of the titular Biôrn, a viking warrior whose only wish is to die in battle, so that he may enter Valhöll. This one has none of the brooding of Matter Fisher, going for a much more comedic tone. The end of Biôrn’s quest is particularly satisfying.
And there you have it, a couple of choice morsels for another Friday. Good luck on the rest of your afternoon.
“Masquerade Ball” oil on canvas, by Jared Joslin
Jared Joslin’s paintings are gilded portals to the sensual past. Exploring his work, we encounter thriving pockets of nocturnal Weimar nightlife, Dust Bowl era carnivals, and glittering pre-code Hollywood nightclubs. Jared has said that what fuels his vision is “the feeling that you don’t necessarily fit within your own time. You’re drawn to the past in ways you can’t quite understand, but feel the pull of it and want to take on [its] dreams.” His creations truly do seem timeless, and they are dreamy indeed.
Just in time for Jared’s current solo show, “Stop, Look, and Glisten”, Coilhouse is proud to to present Part One of an in-depth interview with this remarkable painter and longtime friend. Part Two of our feature will be more lavishly presented in the impending sixth issue of Coilhouse Magazine. (Hooray, yes, it’s coming soon!)
Comrades, should you be in the Midwest between now and June 18th, be sure to stop by Firecat Projects in Chicago, Illinois. These pieces are a marvel to see in person.
The “Stop, Look, and Glisten” reception is tomorrow evening, (Friday the 27th). More info here.
Set the tone for us, good sir. What music are you listening to? Cocktails? Is your wife (fellow artist, oft-featured friend and correspondent of the ‘Haus) Jessica nearby? What art are you working on, currently? And she?
It’s an unusually beautiful evening for Chicago. The windows are open and a lovely breeze is circulating. Fad Gadget is playing in the studio and I can hear it a tiny bit from the kitchen where I’m working. Jessica is making a good amount of ruckus, drilling holes to inset small brass balls into the horns of a circus goat. She is in the final stages of completing work for her solo show at La Luz de Jesus Gallery next month. Cocktails…yes indeed! How did you know? A lovely Sazerac Rye Manhattan is keeping my blood thin and my gears well lubed. Lately I’ve been working in the studio on some new ideas and approaches, mainly experimenting with watercolors. Currently on the easel is a watercolor painting of myself in Pierrot attire nestling against a costumed lady at a masquerade ball…
Tonight, in the tradition of The Fartrix and Day Job Orchestra, not to mention the many, many, many, many, MANY befuddling Star Trek-inspired tidbits previously featured here, we share with you… Vernon Wilmer’s “Gaseous Anomalies”:
Via “Odious Parcheesi”, appropriately enough.
ENJOY. Or, alternately, FORGIVE ME.
Praise. IMMENSE praise– for the creative development of Katie Stelmanis and her rare, tremulous bird voice, swooping and soaring higher than ever, supported by her bandmates in Austra and the epic production value on their recent release, Feel It Break. Kudos to Bjork/Prodigy/UNKLE producer, Damian Taylor, for lifting them up on his capable shoulders. Such a strong, vivid dream of an album; a “100% dud-free collection”, as Stereogum puts it.
The inevitable Zola Jesus and Karin Dreijer Andersson comparisons are pouring in, and let them. There are some parallels, for sure: dark witchy prowess, shamanic danceability, classically trained chops, sharp songwriting skills, unconventional presentation. It’s electronic pop steeped in earnest ritual.
But dial back the scrumptious bleep and bloop effects a bit. When the arrangement is primarily just Stelmanis and her piano (as with the final, breathtaking track “The Beast”), it becomes clear that the album’s most powerful magic lies simply in that voice. There’s something humbling, and deeply healing, about that.
Sometimes you just have to take a break and watch as a man in a purple suit and a luminous, gold tie does an extended magic trick to the smooth, sultry tones of Sting. The man in the aforementioned suit is Shawn Farquhar, and the trick performed won the World Championship and Grand Prix of Close Up Magic in Beijing, China in 2009, — the “Olympics of Magic” according to the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (International Federation of Magic Societies) or FISM. And while I am no great fan of Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner’s work, the trick is pretty mesmerizing. It’s either that or I’ve just been blinded by that tie.
Via The Daily What
I suspect that when many Americans think of The Future, it looks like something envisioned by Disney; all moving sidewalks, flying cars, and abodes akin to The Monsanto House of the Future. “Magic Highway USA” doesn’t stray too far from these established tropes. There are still the flying cars and moving sidewalks but there are also truly fantastical items like giant machines that build bridges into the thin air underneath them out of quick drying concrete mixtures or machines the melt tunnels into mountains using The Power of the Atom. On the other hand, it also vaguely hints at devices very much like modern GPS units. And unsurprisingly, considering the mindset at the time, there are highways everywhere, vast networks of roadways crisscrossing the globe, enabling you and your family to drive through the Taj Mahal or up the Great Sphinx’s nose. A spiderweb of automotive activity, always on the move, never stopping. Welcome to The Future.
Photo by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times
Two urban faery friends of ours in Williamsburg, ladies who have cultivated one of the most unique and enchanting domiciles you’ll ever see, are attracting a lot of attention, lately! Coilhouse first posted about Paige Stevenson and her Brooklyn loft, now called The House of Collection, in Feb of 2008. Since that time, the ever-inspiring Paige and her consummately luminous domestic partner, Ms. Ahnika Meyer-Delirium, have been working (and playing) toward making their wondrous 2000 square-foot loft more vibrant than ever.
Paige’s interview with All That We’ve Met last month is sure to inspire. Even more recently, the New York Times’ in-depth coverage of the House of Collection, –which features both Paige and Ahnika discussing their kindhearted philosophies of life and decor– offers a gorgeous tour of their abode. An excerpt from that article, titled “In Williamsburg, a Live-In Cabinet of Curiosities“:
It’s the way objects are deployed — all over the place, in large quantities and with a sense of play — that makes for something unexpected. A mounted deer’s head is one thing. A deer’s head with a pink brocade eye patch, false eyelashes and a glittery nose is another.
Likewise, grouping all the plants in the living room, even when it’s a room as large as theirs, makes an impact. “People sort of melt open,” Ms. Meyer said. “They feel as though they’re in a magical fairyland. But they also feel at home.”
The House of Collection is rich in such contrasts, a place cozy and vast, one that is urban but, thanks to the greenery, the farm tools and animal forms, has a country feel. It’s fitting for a couple who are both very domestic and deeply unconventional.
Photo by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times
New York City can sometimes feel like an especially cold and aloof realm… yet the HoC is as warm, welcoming and accepting a place as you are ever likely to observe.
Ah, you beauties! Well done.