Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rafael Cidoncha

Orientalism with a human face...

The Madrid venue of the multi-national Marlborough Gallery is showing a must-see exhibition. Works done in these last four years by Rafael Cidoncha while staying at Bernard-Henri Levy's pied-à-terre in Marrakesh. Can't beat the über-trendiness of the whole thing. With BHL as your intellectual patron you can even get away with the biggest display of painter-on-commission this blogger of yours has seen in ages. You share the meals with the High Priest of Shoe Fashionism, Christian Louboutin; you spend quality time with the utmost example of Parisian-Actress-as-RiveGauche-Icon, BHL's wife Arielle Dombasle, and with the quintessential Philosopher-as-Pop-Star, BHL himself; you sleep in their lovely villa in Marrakesh (formerly Talitha Getty's place). Then you paint that Court: their cactus, their faces with superb tan; the Moorish State Rooms; even the lovely blue colours of Ms Dombasle's bathroom.. And then you have a serious talk with your agent and the whole lot is put on display in a sleek Art Gallery. All for sale. Something like an auction of BHL's memorabilia.
The end result is a kind of Post-Orientalism. A new Delacroix, more attentive to the Aborigines' sensibilities for sure, but still very much Morocco as the exotic playground of the European (new) gentry.

Just as a catalyst of these layers of significance, just as a remarkable example of painting-as-narrative, Cidoncha 's exhibition is fascinating. But, of course, we wouldn't spent precious blog-time if the paintings were not valid, legitimate, artistic statements in themselves. This painter is good.

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