Baryta Print 50 x 60 cm Edition of 7 Signed and numbered by the artist
The Eye of Love
What if walls were to breathe like the skin of one’s beloved? They would expand gently, with the panting of pleasure, while their backs would melt into the torn wallpaper. Who would not wish to be drawn into such a deep inner space of love? Protected by the walls of a small chamber in which the world is locked out, for it is a chamber fraught with love.
The walls are pulsating like a heart. A grainy commingling in the dusky light of intimacy, in the loving gaze. But the lid flutters above the eye, the eye of the camera, opening briefly like the aperture of the camera. Every bat of the eyelid captures the here and now like the lens of the camera. A transient here and now yet forever reprised in the eye of future viewers. And there they will rediscover themselves in the setting of their own lives, seduced by the power of the pictures in this series, made all the greater for omitting obscenity, the “backstage” of the act of love.
Everyone knows it. The pull of being a twosome. Everyone has memories of slippers under the table, of laundry hung up to dry in the room. These objects form the words hung up, like clothes hung up to dry, on lines that form this visual poem of love.
To deflect the impact of such memories in our own lives as we leaf through The Eye of Love, we might find ourselves clinging to art historical reminiscences. We would then recognize in the neck of our beloved the similarly vulnerable neck pictured by Man Ray, or see his backlit photograph of Kiki and also, of course, the afterimage of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “L’Araignée” at the sight of sheets mussed up on the bed: a picture in which the bodies of lovers, blurred, legs entwined, weave a spider web of pleasure.
It is no wonder that the series became the pedestal of Groebli’s international career and that one of the photographs, the sitting nude, made its way into Edward Steichen’s trailblazing exhibition “The Family of Man” at the Museum of Modern Art New York. The stunning power of Groebli’s 1952 series still takes our breath away, the more so because we know full well that we are not looking at a model we might at most suspect of having an affair with the photographer but rather at the unmarred bliss of René Groebli und Rita freshly married in a hotel room in Paris. And we are all fully aware that the woman’s gleaming white dress, falling, gliding from her body into the rustling of blurred edges, betokens an encounter known to us from our own lives. The pleasure divined between the pictures in this series is as scandalous as the love and familiarity between two human beings is enduring and touching. And so the chamber in Paris becomes the heart chamber into which we have all once fallen, into which we have all once sunk. In the hope that this narrow chamber will expand into the expanses of an entire life. In the hope that these split seconds will be burned into heart and mind – like René Groebli’s photographs on the retina of the viewer.
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