The suns of art and the art of Suns
The exhibition Hot Sun, Late Sun. Modernism Untamedunfolds and winds its way between a number of artists who belong neither to a school nor even to a group. The first question thus consists of trying to understand what might bring them together or connect them — or do some of them assert a non-negotiable uniqueness? They are all affiliated, nonetheless, by a relationship with painting, and for each of them this relationship is profoundly unique.
The introductory information provides a number of clues to the exhibition: it is about light, about the artists’ relationship with the Mediterranean region, which is characterised as a “home to experimentation”, about modernism and about postmodernism. A little further on in the presentation text, the “hot sun” is identified with modernism at its zenith, whilethe “late sun” is that of postmodernism. The “absolute sun”, one of “intense heat”, is represented as a ball in the work of Calder, while the fourth sun, flattened by the weight of the world, reveals itself in the works of Etel Adnan – paintings of Mount Tamalpais shared between the shores of the Mediterranean and those of the Pacific.
It will therefore be necessary to verify our hypotheses. Everyone knows there is a connection between Monticelli and Van Gogh, but the relationship between Monticelli and Picasso results from a less obvious influence. As for that linking Van Gogh with Jean-François Millet, it is proven, but what should we make of it? Revolving around this solar core, the works by the other artists in the exhibition may be seen as originating from planets more or less distant from the central star, each emitting on its orbit distinct light signals which can perhaps be decrypted and submitted to the judgement of the fifth avatar of the “cosmic” sun: the god Sun Ra.
Patrick Talbot is a historian and former director of three French national schools of art, including the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles. He has been cultural advisor to the French embassies in the United States and Italy. He is a member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) and president of the association “Les Suds à Arles”.
Sun Ra, Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Myth Science Arkestra, The Lost Arkestra SeriesVol 1 & 2, 2017 © Art Yard Ltd