Gas Lamps As Angels (After Lisel Mueller's poem: 'Monet Refuses The Operation'), 2009
Wires, lamps, black glass, metal part, white gloss paint on wall
From the exhibition 'Tender Is The Night' at CAN Gallery, Athens, Greece, Curated By Christina Androulidaki & 'Nightwatch' exhibition in TAF, Curated By Supermina Team
The title of Dimitris Foutris’ work Gas lamps As Angels suggests a direct connection between the physical incapacity to see realistically and the mystical tendencies that exist in darkness and in light. The title of the work derives from the poem 'Monet Refuses the Operation' written by Lizel Mueller.
The poem is a monologue in which the Impressionist painter Monet, old in age, demonstrates to his doctor the reasons why he doesn't want to undergo cataract removal, explaining how
he has spent his whole life learning to see things blurry. Through a simple but sophisticated sculptural form Foutris deals with significancies like the Supernatural through the reflection of the Real, Truth and Non-truth as well as the sombre side of the Human. Part of the work is a wall-painting in white glossy color on the wall on the left that is an appropriation of Composition with black and blue by Piet Mondrian which refers to the concept of the horizon, a strict comparison to the point in Lizel Mueller’s poem where Monet rejects artistic principles of conveying realistic three-dimensional perspective such as
the horizon and sharply critiques the value of depth and realism in art.
Monet Refuses the Operation
Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
~ Lisel Mueller ~