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Auguste Rodin, Eternal Spring (1906-07)

Auguste Rodin always endowed his sculptures with life, locating them in the medium between stones and human beings. That partly accounts for their analogy to sculptures in the Classic periods, those that assume the likeliest verisimilitude with the Holy Divine, standing redoubtably and imparting Wisdom without the means of sounds. Indeed, silence is pronounced in most sculptures, in a magnitude even more palpable than that of an unoccupied room. Sundry feelings and sentiments are made tangible; every trace of happiness or sadness is indelibly etched on the sculptures' cold, pristine faces.

Whenever love is magnified, it is like flickers against a dark sky, explosive but ephemeral. Almost all forms of art display their expertise of turning the mobile into the immobile, the departing into the stagnant. However in some occasions, especially in the case of sculptures, paintings and photography, the fleeting moment and sensation are emphasised. In Rodin’s Eternal Spring, the two passionate lovers are locked in a momentary ecstasy. The muscular arm of the man grabs his lover possessively towards him. His assertion of love is imperious, so much so that she is suddenly cowed; her presence is on the verge of falling out of the marble base, into the pit of eternal oblivion.

The triumphing over the physically inferior is explicit with this particular piece. In closer inspection the man has his arm around the woman’s torso in a rather offhand manner, seemingly taking for granted the fact that she will lean towards him without much summoning. Her body, in response to his commanding gesture, collapses involuntarily, the ownership of which devolves towards him flippantly like lights that flit from one object to another. The Lifeless is duly jealous of the passionate lovers; eager to mingle with them, in hope of becoming an integrated whole so the Lust can be shared. Therefore the lovers, with little awareness themselves, are gradually sunk into the rock, leaving their contours no more prominent than their sweet nothings.

It is the lull that makes us savour each fragmented sound that eventually tails off. It is when accidentally pricking our body are we initiated into the excitement of pain. It is the foreknowledge of an imminent separation do we see every union with forlorn eyes. The two lovers can merely cling onto the hope, dim though it might be, that their moment can be reprieved by the ruthless annihilation and live on. But we all know the Divine is always begrudged of the mortal.


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