Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Honore Daumier

“If you shut up truth and bury it under ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”- Émile Zola
Exited Honoré Victorin Daumier, 10 February 1879, in an impoverishment that many of his contemporaries, especially his foes, would have thought was his long overdue retribution- the painter was blind, heavily in debt, and later relegated to a pauper’s grave. His friends, upon visiting his resting place, would, I imagine, see it a chance to admonish their children: “Now that’s a lesson for you cheeky devils whose tongues rattle off things that should better stay unspoken.” But Daumier devoted his life in revealing those “unspoken things.” His lithography ink proved sharper than most writers’ pens. He vented his rage and stigmatised others’ infamy in his satirical and, oftentimes, side-splitting cartoons. The tone was relentlessly acerbic but only because Daumier was exposing truths that, in the time…

Review: Late Spring (1949)

As a storyteller, Yasujiro Ozu insists on an implausibly objective stance that refrains from direct commentary or criticism; his camera customarily assumes the role of a detached observer, to whom the characters in the film, staring or talking straight to the camera, occasionally address, with an intimacy akin to that between a host and his guest, a closeness that is underpinned by a mutual recognition of the psychological distance that separates the two. The audience, whose perspective, in this case, conflates the camera’s (the director’s), an invisible character’s in the film (to whom the other characters address) and their own, is thus situated amidst this spatial complexity which, as a rule, every work of art necessarily creates.
In Late Spring (1948), the camera serves in part as an underlying comment to the story, which is noted by its economy of details. A prolonged shot of a departing train, on which the father and daughter travel to the city for a one-day excursion, prefigures…

Review: Breathless (1960)

Jean Luc Godard’s first feature feels oddly like a swansong: in many respects the film seems a self-mockery of what it ostensibly celebrates – the new, the bold, the reckless; the 60s zeitgeist that resurrects the anguished ghosts of the 1920s, who, according to F. Scott Fitzgerald, grow up to “find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faith in man shaken.” For the children of the ‘60s, their wars are of a kind in which the opponents constantly change roles: sometimes they are the unmerciful authorities bent on making miserable lives out of their inferiors; in other times they are the society at large, weeding out in its insidious and devious way the errant law-breakers. They all seem to be donning the same masks, through which the warriors recognise themselves.
This fight with one’s inner demon necessarily evokes concerns of mortality and death - timeless concerns that acquire an added pungency in the 1960s: would a dangerous, unheeding spell of hedonism finally defy life’s incontrove…