The Unbearable Irony Triptych:
by Judy Takács
A few years ago, I was invited by Cleveland’s extraordinary printmaker, innovator and art instigator, Liz Maugans to create a painting for an art show, “Unbearable Lightness”, which she was curating at BAYarts.
The theme for the show was inspired by the book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera.
If are not a reader, the movie was excellent and captures much of the spirit of the book, with Daniel Day Lewis in his sexiest role ever…so it's worth a look too. The story is a love triangle…actually a polygon… set during the Prague Spring in 1968, just before the oppressive Soviet communist regime crushed Czechoslovakia’s attempts at liberal reforms.
Since the artists in the show were invited to create art to the theme of the BOOK, I chose to deny myself the movie Daniel Day Lewis fantasy and re-read “Unbearable Lightness of Being” book in search of images and inspiration.
As I read, three ideas stuck with me. One was visual and the other two were intellectual concepts in opposition to each other.
The visual concept is this: Tereza (played by Juliet Binoche in the movie), is desperately in love with a sexually unfaithful Tomás (Daniel Day Lewis). She clings to him each night as they sleep, with a grip so tight he can never truly escape. He continues to stray (thus the love polygon), but also continues to return.
The first conceptual idea in the book is this: A moment, once it happens is gone forever and can never happen again.
And the second concept, in direct opposition to the first is this: There is an inherent irony in creating art (permanent, for-the-ages, timeless, transcendent) that takes as its inspiration the concept of a fleeting moment (already over before you can start the art it inspires). And since much of my work is about irony, relationships, expressions, feelings and truth…as seen through people painted with intense spontaneity, these three concepts came together easily.
I really wanted to paint the clinging desperate squish of two lovers, so I posed my indulgent husband with myself for the centerpiece of the triptych. The two side paintings show my exaggerated intensity and his lack of it. The strings we cling to are flimsy, tiny and unsatisfying to hang on to (like moments gone), and yet the “Relentless Artist” still clings…trying to “Painstakingly Capture” and preserve for all time the transient whisper of a “Fleeting Expression”.
The reason I’m revisiting this tryptych is that for the next week or so you can see the right panel (entitled "Unbearable Irony: Fleeting Expression") exhibited at the SYZYGY show at the Cleveland West Art League at the 78th Street Studio. Since it is a painting of my husband, I included it in this first ever grouping of my work that is exclusively paintings of men.
Please join me at the now legendary 78th Street Studios Third Friday Art Walk from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. February 21st. I am honored to be included in this small group of stellar artists as part of the SYZYGY show, curated by Leslie Humez, at the Cleveland West Art League Gallery.
A very few copies of my Chicks with Balls book will be for sale at the show, and I'll sign one just for you on Friday night February 21st.
Cleveland West Art League Gallery
78th Street Studios
1305 West 80th Street
If you can't make the opening, the CWAL gallery will be open Friday February 7th and 14th for the SYZYGY Show from 11:00 to 4:00. And then again for the Closing Reception during February's Third Friday Art Walk on February 21st from 6:00 to 10:00. Check out photos on my facebook page.
Or you can schedule an appointment: (don’t be shy) by calling Dan Nefaros at: 216-456-6503 or you can email him at: email@example.com. Either way check it out. It truly is a dynamite show!
I have written a blogpost about another SYZYGY painting of a man; my son. Read about, “The Introvert” on this blog too.