Maurice Steps into a New World.

Maurice Rises Above His Village, litho, monoprint, marker, 1985-2022

Maurice readies himself for a new life, stepping away from his sweet village which has grown too small for his ideas. He is now, after surviving Nazi occupation, ready to have a new life of authentic happiness. He has formulated a new brand of Existentialism based on the human body as a piece of the puzzle of Phenomenology, living authentically, raising a family, having broken with the Marxists, who he felt betrayed their Internationalism, bifurcating the world in a struggle with the US pitted against the USSR. This was not Marxism, this was hegemony all over again. Not good for Planet Earth. Only good for the power-mad. The rising red flame of idealism ascends. That it has taken only 37 years to complete this image is testament to more of my time traveling. I was in the village of Bonnieux in 1997, teaching Art. That I sat and sketched the foreground image of the village of Bonnieux as a demo for my little cadre of art-learners is important because in this time travel mode, drawing when traveling becomes a string mnemonic. I can call to mind the moment I sat looking, feeling the soft air, the sounds of the village, voices, banging doors, motors, and happily remembering the meal that evening, a curried soup of mussels (so delicious) and for desert a puff pastry filled with white créme anglais, blue berries, and raspberries to honor the red, white & blue—called to mind because it was the Fourth of July and the restauranteurs were showing their happiness at having a large group to of Yanks to feed. M. Merleau-Ponty would approve this embodiment of memory because that was his shtick, the body as part of the world, not separated in some Cartiesian brainiac, thought over experience. Marcel Merleau-Ponty was above-all, a person who saw existentialism as embodiment in the world and of the world. This was authenticity.

The next day our group visited the photographer Denis Brihat’s studio (still alive at this writing at 95) whose photographs were downright sculptural. He had developed a method whereby the blacks of a photograph etched themselves, dead flat black into the extra thick printing paper in a chemical process and the whites stayed on top glossy. I’d never seen anything like it. As you moved your head around the parallax created the 3D effect, the whites reflecting. The blacks are dead flat and embeded in the ground, the whites are shiny and sit on the surface. This is EMBODIED photography. Marcel would approve.

Denis Brihat Oliviers photo 50 x 60 cm 1992

So where is Marcel off to? Sadly, he passed at 52 in 1961 leaving us with a way of seeing the world with his Eye and Spirit, who has parsed out Cézanne for me, who knew the world was the body and the body was the world.

The image was made first with the B&W litho of the bird head printed onto a blank sheet. The blue moving to grey background was rolled onto the printing plate with a blank keeping the head free of ink. The kimono body was erased out of the rolled-out color of the background with solvent and painted in a few bravura strokes…I had been watching a movie where folks were dressed up in fancy kimono…that outfit came like it was poured out of the brush, almost like a Disney cartoon of painting. The red column of strokes was printed also as a monoprint and cut out to become another element. Finally, the tree-line in the distance was done lately, in PhotoShop on the digital image.

To the new world I have embraced as I dive into some difficult-to-grock, as we used to say, philosophy. But made simpler by Maurice Marleau-Ponty’s brand of existentialism, the world as an extension of the body.

Hey Ma! How do you be an Existentialist?

Well, honey, you know that would be totally up to you.

Thanks, Ma. Thanks, Maurice.

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