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Bergamot Station G6
2525 Michigan Avenue Santa Monica, CA  90404
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Joe Blaustein
January 4 February 4, 2012


WHY SHOULD NOT OLD MEN GO MAD

Apollonian, this stuff ain’t.

Spontaneous, quickly drawn, -- responsive to the crap that inundates the narrow world of old men— the fears and frailties, the kvetches, the losses---- the “wounds of existence”  (the wider world also intrudes, with  its inanity, injustice, ignorance). 

So.   In this recent work, I react, and often in the reaction, relinquish skills, sense of color, formal relationships, in favor of a rawness.   Old men fall, run, come apart, lose pieces of themselves, grimace and suffer for the world— And then I sweat—to make it into work that works.

Hey, I recall a poem of W.B. Yeats, “Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad” !!!!!!!! (exclamation points-mine), in which Yeats bemoans a  beautiful woman who knows all of Dante, bearing the children of a dunce! (could be a metaphor for our country)

I recall Titian’s great “Slaying of Marsyas”, done with slashing strokes, painted when the big T was about ninety-five. The symbol of classical beauty, the god Apollo, is skinning the poor satyr--- while a cute little “lap” dog laps up the blood.  Wild.  Blows me away.  Many years earlier, in Titian’s   “Venus in Urbino”, smoothly rendered, perfectly and classically structured, there was the same “lap” dog sleeping peacefully at Venus’s feet (while she was doing something naughty with her hand).  What happened to Titian in the decades between?  He got old.

And I recall standing in front of Michelangelo’s “Pieta,” in the Vatican, done when he was twenty-five. I admired the smoothly modeled marble, classical perfection. Lovely.  But, later, in Milan, the Rondanini Pieta, --- done when Michelangelo was eighty-nine --- I was brought to tears.  Elongated, gaunt, raw, and powerful, hewed and hacked with bold broad chisel marks left showing, —even an arm chopped off and left hanging—no pretense of realism, order—but there was Christ, even in death  limply leaning against his mother  as if to ease her suffering— and to me a symbol, empathic, -- exemplifying and expiating the suffering of humanity—  a wail of pathos.   What happened to Michelangelo in those sixty decades between?  He got old.

And I recall Rembrandt’s fat strokes of pure paint in an uncompromising late  portrait of his ravaged face—staring into the void.   He got old.

 And finally, I recall Matisse, near the end of his life, painfully arthritic, doing joyous cutouts, defining form by defining its negative, saying, “ I no longer know how to draw!”

Perhaps William Butler Bubbie Yeats was on to something.

And I got old.

 

 

Coming Apart 2, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 30
Coming Apart 2,
2011, mixed media, 44 x 30"

 

 

SOM 2, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 30SOM 2, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 30
SOM 2, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 30"

 
 

Impossible Forms, 2010-11, oil on canvas, 30 x 40”
Bio Seven,
2011, mixed media, 44 x 30"

 


 

WSNOM 1, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 60
WSNOM 1, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 60”

 

 
FOMTOM 1, 2011, mixed media, 44 x 60”

 

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