I can see your fingers – elongated, they cradle your arch, aquiline face. Your wasted wrists are swimming inside your starched and buttoned shirt cuffs. Your hands are muscular and alive with creative possibilities. Fingers, wrists, hands…all with the ability to grasp a gilded pen annoited with ink and guide it along rich and threaded paper. The slightest turn can make a line curl, thicken, weep, sculpt…and bring to life the shocking images cavorting in your brain.
Om 1896 you were in Paris, a pallid dandy. You had no money. Your lungs were shredded; and every cough threatened another delicate stream of your life's blood. You experimented with hashish. But you would drink only milk.
And still you were creating images that broke my heart:
Bursting from your pen I can see unbridled festoons of baroque madness. Lines boiled within every fold of taffeta, every false extravagant curl, every floating gown, every statuesque feather. Lines are gouged into the curtains like nails tearing into flesh.
Grotesques, fairies, eunuchs, angels and satanic familiars pour into one another in this underworld: they confront, they argue, they leer…they give in to the basest instincts of the human spleen. Some are sexless, some brandish their sexuality like weapons, and run roughshod over their opponents. Thighs and bosoms are lush and white – but there are faces that are wizened and harsh, and profiles that are sharp and fierce. Bodies are decorated, winged, veiled: beautiful and horrible.
They all swim in a sea of drapery. These are creatures that look like 18th century carvings brought to life by your whirlwind affectations. They move beneath huge, jeweled tassels, beside rows of candles; they grow amongst poisonous flowers and threaten garnished urns.
When I first saw your drawings, I had to look away – I had to hide. It was because the purest beauty and perfection, lying inside me unanswered and unrealized, when brought to light will hurt like a white, unbearable heat.