Nothing entirely by itself (detail)


Everything built upon another thing (detail)

The choreographer Pina Bausch famously observed that she was “less interested in how people move than in what moves them.”  There is a sequence in her work Nelken, where a lone man stands and signs along to a sentimental recording of Gershwin's The Man I Love. The sign language is perfectly synced to the song but apart from the moving hands the man seems otherwise impassive. As the tempo increases, the gestures remain fluid but become increasingly frantic. There seems to be a disjoint between the words and what we see. Gestures have taken centre stage in these recent paintings, with obviously posed hands confined within the backdrop of the model’s clothes, and the clothes reduced to a flat unmodelled area. The hand signals have become very specific, deliberate but are they intended to communicate or obfuscate? I’m not sure this person, or any person, is truly knowable. Hand signals, semaphore, code – what are we trying to say?

My model posted a facebook photo of herself in the studio next to one of the paintings in progress. She titled her post Me visiting myself. Literal but nicely psychological too. Giving autonomy to the hands, one of her friends commented, “Your hands seem ready to do some tricks. Like a magician.” And maybe they are, and maybe she is.

Images in full here.

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