Breathers – About This Project

by on July 14, 2014

In The Breathers, 1984–1986, a series of drawings and paintings on paper and canvas, I was looking for a representation of a human being at its purest and most primal level, a sense of the self stripped of culture and relations, stripped to the level of breathing. This was my first experience of using a text—Rilke’s Duino Elegies—as a backstory, in a nonlinear, non-parallel way, though in subsequent series, I preferred to work with my own original text.

“Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic
orders? And even if one of them suddenly
pressed me against his heart, I should fade in the strength of his
stronger existence. For Beauty’s nothing
but beginning of Terror we’re still just able to bear,
and why we adore it so is because it serenely
disdains to destroy us. Each single angel is terrible. …”

from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies,
translated from the German by J. B. Leishman and Stephen Spender




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