From my breather I look across the tilled hectares to a distant red roofed ruinous farmhouse, punctured barns and deserted well, but for this image my lane in it's splendour could be anywhere in Northern Europe or Angleterre, but this architectural litter roots it in Normandy. It's a question of scale, in little England all has become commutable, renovation, restoration, retreat from the city but here there is enough to be careless, farms are abandoned, families retreat, banished in the face of John Deere and land consolidation. So the morning air has a slight whiff of mortality, how many more seasonal bedtimes are in the script, perhaps not the fingers on one hand, what better to conjure then, than a descent, a deposition.
For me there are only two great descents, the Beckman and the Caravaggio, there is a processional deposition which I like, by the Swiss artist Ciseri, but it's really about something else. Beckman, brilliant, he will discomfort you at every turn, of all the modern masters, Beckman took on the big Renaissance themes with gusto and bashed them into a contemporary language. I love him, but I'm not sure I could live with him. This painting was made in 1917, it rivals the great religious paintings of medieval Germany but it's not it's backward glance that troubles, it is the premonitory nature of the images, here is the nightmare of the camps, Buchenwald and the unmentionable rest. No careful descent then, no gentle lowering on winding sheets, this is a dismantling, the bruised, unsightly, scabrous corpse full of rigor is being disposed of in a totally irreverent and very workmanlike manner, a piece of work this. Well peel away the layers, the myriad of allusions, decipher the symbols, this is genius. If any doubt lingers then go to Beckman's 'The Night', that could really stop you sleeping. To maximise on this wonderful stuff you should enjoy it in the company of Leonard Cohen, that's a really interesting combination, because like Max, Leonard has premonitions, he's seen the future and it's murder. I was going to tell you how much I love Saint Nicodemis and Sutherland's 'Carrying the Cross' but enough fun and frivolity, I'm off up the lane to kick leaves.
AGED AND AWKWARD