Gods in Tatters

For Nora, Silvia and Don Francisca,
who have made it possible for me to write this text

If I wanted to get rich, I would immediately stop being an art critic. If I really wanted to get extremely rich, in a short time at that, and if I had no scruples about it, I know well what I would do: I would become a founder of a religion or at least a sect. Nothing functions better nowadays and I immodestly believe that I am predisposed for it.

If, then... But it is not enough to establish a cult; one needs to create gods and erect temples. My cult would be based on polytheism (faith in one God is more boring and thus does not sell so well). I would entrust the implementation of the project to two artists: I would ask Axel Cassel to make peaceful deities, those that sanctify the mystic and secret espousal of man with nature, twigs, seeds and their dreams. However, I have talked at length about Axel and will continue to do so. I would commission the other artist - Robert Sobociński - to make tragic images, moving mausoleums, figures of all creatures and spaces that unsettle human consciousness... First, I think, I would commission him to make father Prometheus as he is being devoured by flames. I would like him to make numerous other gods struck by their own thunderbolts and maiming themselves with their own weapons - tragic deities which remind man that he cannot succeed in life without ruining his soul and that it is impossible to run until one becomes short of breath or, finally, to be dazzled when one is blind.

I would ask Robert to make rickety, unimaginable and indescribable spiral altars, where dubious and indecisive sacrifices are performed - the only ones we are capable of nowadays.

No, the gods of our times are not completely dead as was prematurely proclaimed by Nietzsche; they might be quite crisp but they are in tatters, ripped apart, with decorative scars of gnashes, scratches or grazes. Not only have they been crowned with thorns, but also clothed in splinters only to be brutally exposed later.

Robert Sobociński - in my judgement - is the only artist who is capable of creating today Rodins in tatters, ragamuffins in bronze, one of the most dense and massive matters that there are. He can fray it, tear, gnash, or rip to shreds, precisely and meticulously and at the same time violently and brutally. His gods, heroes and demons are all built of scars or slashes. Thanks to him one can see at first glance that the space of the solid is permeated with an acid that corrodes and torments until the unstable and shaky core. This is a sculpture damaged by a space contaminated with acid rains and our bitter tears. In the era of emptiness, in order for our idols to become clearly seen, they must be grooved. And Robert, one of its kind, is a sculptor who primarily works with the void.

Furthermore, knowing that he is also an architect, I would ask him to erect temples which would protect the Pantheon, both terrifying and ruined. "I will build you a city of tatters", wrote recently Henri Michaux. I know that Robert Sobociński is capable of doing this. He would create for us pantheons of cobwebs, pyramids of moss and lichens, Angkors of double shell byssus. There would resound and be heard the last mumblings of pitiful requests and desperate prayers.

Gérard Barrière
7 April 2004

e-mail : lp.2o@tcudorptra