June 15th, 2011
Toro, ca. 1960, Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
Bull / Roots, 2006, Watercolor, ink on paper
Bull, 1994, chalk on paper
A bit caught up in life things, sorry for the delayed posts y’all. Here are some bulls, three different takes. The first by great photographer Lucien Clergue, of whom Picasso was an admirer apparently. I like this sentence from Wikipedia: “He also worked on a series whose subject was carrion.” Tells you a bit about the guy, and puts his bull photo in context: What a savage piece. Conveys the pitch of fury bulls are brought to by toreadors. In that furious set of its teeth. Absence of eyes too: the creature’s become all angry teeth-gnash. Even in (apparent) death, the poor beast’s rage consumes it.
The Koike presents a different bull: bull as tree, stout and proud and strong, no toreador spears out of this one’s back. Broad and implacable with a support structure anchored in the earth. Beast of the earth, not of burden; not yoked to plow, but tied in a different way, & to nothing that mankind has built.
Finally there’s the Emsley. Bull here as apparition, emerging from the void with blurred & eerie luminescence. Sleepy eyed and with a seeming plume of cold air spouting from its nostrils. This is the bull to fear. Neither earth watcher nor outraged victim. Spirit of vengeance, rebuking the harness & the twirling red cape. No, no, that’s wrong: this bull is beyond those instruments of its kind’s oppression. It’s not even a bull anymore. It’s been transformed to pure, unthinking, dispassionate retribution. No valuation, just simple action. The inevitable justice of avalanches, anthrax.
Check out more of Clergue’s photography at Monroe Gallery.
Check out more of Emsley’s work at paulemsley.co.uk.
Check out more of Koike’s art at kazumakoike.com.