I mentioned Hanneline Røgeberg a couple of posts back, so I would like to take this moment to celebrate her painting, Balzac IV, (2008) a detail of which is on the cover of my chapbook, Mr. Worthington’s Beautiful Experiments on Splashes. It’s on the lower half and above it is a detail of a collage piece by Amy Pryor, ‘blue skies.’ For many reasons, it makes me very happy to have their work on the cover.
I knew I wanted something bodily on the cover and thus asked Hanneline. She is articulate on matters of the body like no one else. She mentioned she had a new series, “the ball paintings,” which sounded perfect, once they became a possibility. I liked the idea of rehabilitating a part of the body that seems relegated primarily to jokes.
I want to write more about both of these pieces, but for now, here is what Hanneline says, in Form and Story: An Artists Roundtable Discussion about these paintings:
“As for the balls themselves, I was trying to find a kind of equivalent to childbirth. And I’ll admit to a Richter hangover, which came back doubly when I had my child. It was after the Richter show at MoMA, which was brilliant, but ice cold, except for this room where there were four small paintings of what appeared to be a contemporary Madonna and child. It was, I think, of his third wife and family from the 90s, a young beautiful woman with a small boy on her lap. The paintings were of this one photograph squeegeed out, abandoned, in some way brushed or washed over and were really interesting for me.
Immediately upon seeing that show, I had all of these fantasies about an alternative allegory for Modernism from the Balzac story, “The Unknown Masterpiece.” The impotent old master claims to have made a perfect painting of the perfect woman, and ends up committing suicide when he realizes he has just committed ten years of his life to this impenetrable wall of inarticulate brush marks–except for a small corner, where you can still see a bit of the woman’s ankle.
Anyway, I kept seeing echoes of the flitting between the penetrative impulse to articulate something and the inevitable reiteration of the wall–like those squeegee marks–as perhaps an admission of defeat or impotence. Later, I also became kind of infuriated at the thought that he [Richter] could own this now, and for me having had a child, it could never be metaphoric again. So I wanted to find an equivalent on the male body where metaphors would go to die, and that became the ball paintings. It’s a stupid pun and I apologize. But the ball sack is the place where vulnerability rather than potency is manifest so it became a good place to ruminate.
As a surface, it is really, really interesting to look at. It’s like watching the weather; it never stops changing, as least on the poor models who I subjected to this.”