Paintings for The Temple of Love
To the viewer: I have curated this show with as much love as I can bare. After months of collecting fragments of entangled thoughts—poems, imagery, words of curiosity that would prick a thought in me—I handed a stream of my writings to my darling brother Alastair to interpret, in an alchemical way I could never dare to imitate—into the following beautiful introduction to my show. All I could say in answer to his question… “What is this painting exhibition about?” my reply, “It is about Love.” Thank you Alastair—once again, you write with the feeling that I can only express in paint, and you, in words.
“…and I was drawing her… and if you draw somebody carefully—you fall in love—and then you get unhappy, because you are married with somebody else.
Maybe that’s why she never uses models.
Yes… just photos, to protect yourself.
[long silence]” – Marlene Dumas
“I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” – Ernest Hemingway
It’s only fair to admit that Faye did much of the work for me. She envisaged the show as a ‘reliquary for painting’ that somehow captured the intimacy and joviality of our mother’s dinners. What strange and delicious images to unravel.
She insisted on the importance of the Dumas Quote. I added the Hemingway. Together they capture some essential part of art’s erotic dimension: art involves a constant panting after an essential object, even as the artist is seduced by their work in turn. For both Hemingway and Dumas, their craft takes them closer to possessing the objects of their desire, closer to wholeness and closer to falling in love again. Through art and desire, reality conforms to these fantasies.
In ‘The Winter’s Tale’, Leontes’ throbbing, hysterical desire for Hermione’s statue to come alive is Shakespeare’s greatest testimony to the power of both art’s seduction and carnal desire. Love’s motions representing the dream, perhaps, of returning to an infinite wholeness or unity; continually promised, always deferred and ultimately denied. Art can prolong this little dream (how brief!); the painter must court the painted with a dance to inscribe the pair into eternity. This dance is the theme of the show. So Leontes worships at the altar and the statue comes alive, very well. We hope something similar will happen once these paintings begin to babble and brook amongst each other.
Regarding the title of the show, we must pay due credence to Hilma Af Klint whose ‘Paintings for the Temple’ inspired its name and its contents. Af Klint too dreamed of returning to wholeness. She believed her “pictures were painted directly through [her],” by divine beings called the ‘High Masters’. This is much the same force that moves the hand of all our painters, albeit in different guises. Regardless of how you feel about Klint’s occult spiritualism, in our disenchanted world of increasingly stiff-collared materialism, her work inspires faith in the magical; tuning the viewer to the extrasensory and the invisible. This faith, secular or otherwise, raises the possibility of joyful abandon, of casting oneself into oceans of mysticism and of pure feeling.
Every artist here has faith. They worship at Painting’s pagan altar, on hands, knees and ladders, hoping to be afforded a long look. To be blessed with some rich alchemy that will transmute mark to the gold of Affect.
So, in the Temple of Love, the paintings should seduce and flirt, bicker and argue. They might take a long look across the way. You see, the blue of this work is jealous of that red over there, they’re bedfellows and they love one another but the drink brings out the worst in them. The fleshy, generous paint holds these romantic sentiments at its breast.
Faye would like you all to leave with a crush.
“we paint and it is not by chance but by a real abundant care for the medium that we do so - and there must—there must—in some small part be some magic in painting” – Faye Wei Wei