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The World

* Sally Mann, Jessie (1951)
The beasts from the Apocalypse looked on, with eyes of ravenous red- a girl danced within a garland of fire. She was naked, and held in her hands the staffs that could ward off any danger inflamed inexorably by her untarnished beauty. Lust and wonder abounded. The beasts looked on, salivating. For them the girl was like a candle in motion, her skin flimsy like dripping wax. Their imagination played a fatal trick: the desire came in the form of an infernal fire, threatening to lick away her flesh to the bone, and gnaw it, caressingly and persistently like a jilted lover, still hankering after the love he was denied of.
I asked the girl of her stance on innocence as virtue. She told me that it was engrained in her nature to follow a set pattern of life ordained by the divine One. Innocence was only one of the many virtues that she knew from a very young age to hold dearly of. Never excelled in the art of discussing at length a subject in…

The High Priestess

* John Everett Millais, The Bridesmaid (1851) 
The High Priestess dwelled in a shrine flanked by the portals of Night and Day. When I approached, she told me that her power came from the borrowed light, which sustained her throughout every sleepless hour. Never once in her life did she yield to the hypnotic spell of sweet somnolence. Her steely gaze could penetrate through the densest of fog, the most blinding of sunbeam, and the murkiest of the mounting darkness. Even the wolves were terrified of her unflagging vigilance.
Every day she saw people, large crowds of people, streaming through the portals of Night and Day. Some youths would leap through the threshold of the portal of Day with their faces all rosy and jolly, only to be led out and blindfolded to the other portal, still laughing hysterically and completely oblivious of their imminent entrapment in a nasty prank. The High Priestess would prick her ears and wait. Normally, it wouldn’t be more tha…

Review: Jean Fautrier, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Sep. 27- Dec. 7, 2014

A sense of disquiet occasioning in the viewers exacerbated when they found themselves in an exhibition room that was almost unpeopled- quite normal I suppose for a Wednesday afternoon- and under the incessant, rigid vigilance of stiff-backed guards, who seemed unnecessarily outnumbered for a show so small. Small-scale, though, there were at least 100 paintings waiting to be beholden, to be confronted by whomever that had no apprehension of what they were going to see. We felt our ignorance jeered upon, our forbearance sorely tested. The sights that passed through our eyes were atrocious, relentless, bewildering. Once we hastened out of the exit, still stunned with the horrors we could not yet comprehend, how we wished we hadn’t subjected ourselves to such ordeal, in a supposed-to-be glorious afternoon.
But we should have been cautious in advance of the ordeal, because this was a Jean Fautrier’s retrospective we were attending. Jean Fautrier, a French-born artist whose life was punctuat…

The Magician

Hieronymus Bosch, The Magician (1475-80)


The universal fanaticism towards a certain magician is unaccountable to many. Including me, who is neither much of a devotee nor an espouser of the occult, the art of which, however, has been worming into our society so successfully these past few years that an expanding faction has been advocating the conviction that there is nothing too inimical in the occasional practice of magic. There have even been talks about the remedy of magic being more effectual than that of any potent medicine, though I’m also obliged to remind the readers that such anecdote is not yet verified.
A dogged sceptic notwithstanding, I found myself one day embarking on this by no means unexpected journey in quest of the illustrious magician, who was described as having the appearance of a youth, dressing himself in the manner of a priest, holding in his hand a wand which he pointed heavenward whenever he felt struck by sudden enlightenment. And that wa…

Berenice Abbott

"What the human eye observes casually and incuriously, the eye of the camera notes with relentless fidelity."- Berenice Abbott

There are heads. The display window is teeming with heads; pretty heads. Heads adorned with feathers, fancy wigs, hats. Heads with egg-shaped faces. Faces that are painted with kohl eyes, twirled eyelashes, and rouge lips. Some of the faces are half-concealed with masks; masks that are borrowed from a Venetian masquerade, or an Italian opera. The heads and faces that are so peculiarly beautiful that they can only belong to the mannequins’. The mannequins whose torsos are truncated, who are without bodies. 
Berenice Abbott was reputed for her photographic documentation of New York city. In those photographs Abbott demonstrates her ingenuity in taming the immobile objects. Architecture and various urban constructions are unlike people; they are stubborn and hardened; their dogged immobility is a silent refusal to collaborate with whomever ill-advised eno…