VISIONARY REVUE

DANTE AT THE TOMB - Pierre Peyrolle

      His second 'homage to Böcklin', entitled Dante at the Tomb, is a work apart (and, as we shall see, more strongly related to his magnificent painting The Tomb of Esmeralda). Here, the island is neither a bright red crystal nor barren rock, but a cypress forest overgrown with dense vegetation. The lone figure of Dante, dressed in red, stands before the tomb of Beatrice. A sad memory lies at the source of this work: the mourning of the death of one close to the artist.
      And so, as the painter passes from maturity to old age and even death, his works commemorate other memories, other 'events deep in the psyche of man'. In this case, it is 'mourning the death of one's beloved'.
      This sad and plaintive theme resurfaces in The Tomb of Esmeralda, which "...portrays the death of a close friend who was an actress. We spent many summers together on an island to the north of Sicily. There, the sands of Stromboli are black because of the volcanic activity - just as you can see in my painting. The theatre on the left, quite simply, recalls her life as an actress. Rather unusually, she wanted to be cremated. Since she died on the island, they had to bring her body by boat to the mainland." (48)
      The memories of her boat journey and her cremation co-alesce in the stunning image on the right of a boat fast afire on the water. The only spectator to the event, impassive yet attentive, is the dog stretched out on the watery shore. In many of Peyrolle's paintings, a clear fascination with the elements is present - earth, air, fire and water - all intermixed. And here, once again, the atmosphere and scenography elicit our fear and anxiety in the presence of death.


 
 
 


PARIS - FALL 2004

THE TOMB OF ESMERALDA - Pierre Peyrolle

      According to the art historian Dominique Brème: "After ten years of reflection, gazing into the oceanic mirror that surrounds the enigmatic island of the dead, Peyrolle has depicted his own slow journey along life's path - a journey that is half actual (since he cannot deny life's passage) and half symbolic (since the artist lives eternally through these works)." (49)
      Peyrolle's fascination with Isle of the Dead further compelled him to organize the exhibition: Hommage à l'Ile des Morts. Here, Visionary artists from France and abroad were invited to display their own obsessions with Böcklin's island. From within France, an immediate response came from Ljuba, Halingre, Thomas, Trignac, Druillet and others. From abroad came two works apiece from Fuchs and Giger, as well as a reproduction by Dali. All these artists had been mesmerized at some point by Böcklin's disturbing image and rendered it in accord with their own unique vision.
      It is just these enigmas that underlie all of Peyrolle's works. Their imagery - often brazen and shocking - struggle to reach beyond our consciousness and uproot from the unconscious depths those long-repressed memories which stem from life's greater conflicts.
      And yet, once exposed to the light, we learn that these personal memories are shared by all, as universal and timeless. Armed with an amazing technique and a head-full of images from our culture's distant and modern past, the artist will continue to provoke us with just those images.
      NOTE: Certain passages from the texts on Henricot and Peyrolle will also appear (in a different form) in the chapter The Mythic Imagination by L. Caruana in the forthcoming book Eyes of the Soul, edited by Philip Rubinov-Jacobson for RRR publishing.


 
 
 


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