I’m Waiting For You

Yves Tanguy — Je Vous Attends (I’m Waiting For You) 1934

 

I’m Waiting For You

 

“I have always been intrigued by the bizarre landscapes of the French Surrealist Yves Tanguy, paintings that demand a creative response far beyond the standard art historical entry.”
— Mr. Cake

I believe the very talented Mr. Cake to be a mixture of a modern-day André Breton and Balthus, King of Cats, with his well-read sphinxlike demeanor, impeccable eye for art, he’s also the curator of the fabulous, “Cake or Death” site, a place to find all things surreal and all things cake. He approached me to compose a piece for the above painting, Je Vous Attends (I’m Waiting for You). The painting has played such an important part in the personal mythology of Yves Tanguy and his wife, Kay Sage. My poem, Last Call Before You Go, can be found following Mr. Cake’s brief essay, The Dictates of Chance, on Tanguy, Sage and the concept of the chance encounter within Surrealist aesthetics.

 

The Dictates of Chance


The concept of chance was of vital importance to Surrealist aesthetics. Taking as a starting point the beautiful chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella upon an operating table of the Comte De Lautreamont and Stephane Mallarme’s enigmatic dictum that ‘a throw of the dice will never abolish chance’, the Surrealists came to believe that chance was the force necessary to change art, life and indeed transform the world.

Maybe because they were finely attuned to its workings and therefore always on the look-out for its unexpected arrival that chance encounters do seem to have played a disproportionally large role in many a Surrealist biography, especially in the life and works of the two best exemplifiers of Surrealist scorched earth strangeness, Yves Tanguy and Kay Sage.

In 1923 Yves Tanguy was an ex-Merchant Seaman from Brittany leading a rather aimless Bohemian lifestyle in Paris. One day he passed a shop window displaying a painting by Giorgio De Chirico, Le Cerveau L’Enfant (The Child’s Brain). This random, chance encounter had an electrifying, galvanising effect upon Tanguy. He there and then decided to become a painter, despite the fact that he had no formal training whatsoever. It was an inspired decision. Tanguy was possessed of a unique, singular vision that defies all explanation and would greatly influence later Surrealists (especially Dali) and the Abstract Expressionists, notably Pollack and Rothko.

Tanguy’s great contribution was to paint irreal figures that are neither animal, vegetable or mineral, in a painstaking, precise naturalistic fashion, therefore adding to the illusionism of the extra-terrestrial landscapes with their depthless horizons. He would render this strange realm that could be interpenetrated as either a collective memory of the pre-organic origins of life or as a prophecy of the distant future or maybe a mental photograph of the unconscious, obsessively throughout the rest of his career.

In 1938, the wealthy American Kay Sage, who had recently, began to pursue an artistic career after the failure of her marriage visited the International Surrealist Exhibit in Galerie Beaux-Arts. She was so taken by another one of De Chirico paintings, La Surprise, that she bought it and it would remain in her possession until her death. Another painting she noticed and admired immensely was, I’m Waiting For You, by Yves Tanguy. This exposure to the works of De Chirico led Sage to change her artistic direction from semi-abstraction to Surrealism. This change of direction led to a solo exhibition that Tanguy attended and he was so moved by the paintings that he decided to seek Sage out. A meeting was arranged through mutual friends, the result of a series of chance encounters that led to their marriage in 1940 in Reno, Nevada.

They moved to Woodbury, Connecticut shortly afterwards. Their marriage was by all accounts difficult and tempestuous; however Tanguy’s death in 1955 from a stroke devastated Sage. She almost completely stopped painting her own eerie, dread-filled and depopulated surreal landscapes, instead making small sculptures out of wire and bullets.

In 1963 Kay Sage left this poignant and heart-rending suicide note: “The first painting by Yves that I saw, before I knew him, was called ‘I’m waiting for you.’ I’ve come. Now he’s waiting for me again-I’m on my way.” She shot herself through the heart. Tanguy’s friend, the art dealer and brother of Henri, Pierre Matisse scattered their mixed ashes on a beach in Tanguy’s beloved Brittany.

 

Last Call Before You Go


Within a blinding sanguine flash
Escaping the unbridled muzzle of destiny
I find myself riding a scorching bullet,
The train of deliverance, to a place of remains:
Human cairns, les piles de vertèbres
Unrecognizable, yet familiar skinless parts
In this: historic, prehistoric, futuristic,
Post-apocalyptic landscape
With perpetual dinner parties’
Sunsetting shadows: 7 pm
All in search of the multifaceted singular you
Chasing craggy friction, smooth from tracing
A longing desire for all your bigness:
That which fills the heat of any room,
Your fanfare flames a come-hither awareness:
Clarity: the drive for scorn:
Perfection that leads me here
I sense your startling presence
Larger than life, surrounding, smothering
A gyration of hovering stillness
With its annihilating posture: verbal trysts:
Cruelty and misunderstandings:
The heaven on earth I cannot live without:
Effortless drunken brush strokes:
Wire and bullets, forever holding us together
Alas, I have found you: a gaping hole of loss
Collecting plundered eons
And inconsequential landmarks:
The keys to nothing — home to everything

 

Copyright © 2018 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

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Remember

Swan, 2017 — Louis Carreon

 

Remember


You enticed with your light
Refused capture in silhouette
Front and center, full throttle
Even the pitch-black feared
The luminescent evil you exuded
Your siren pose
Plié between 3rd and 4th
Positioned your patrons perfectly
Your featureless face
Twisted smile of demeanor:
Paris under the occupation
Cruel tilt to a coveted almond shape
The pulp, bitter and biting
Hid your two left feet well
As it did your religion
Your own form of high yellow:
The Gentile Ashkenazi
You, Eva Braun and Stella Kübler
Kissing cousins
Thought no one would know
The repulsion of caustic betrayal

 

“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”
— Arthur Miller


Marlon Brando – “Paul Monologue Last Tango in Paris

 

Copyright © 2018 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

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Affectation

Artist Anna RizzardiPhotographer Anna Rizzardi

 

Affectation


Finally revived
From your half-truths

Lies: sins of omissions
You took my breath away
Laid me to rest
While Lying in Wait — four days
I traveled to Nain
Bethany and Galilee too
Cruel is the beautiful ugly man
Whose façade got wet
Exposing the bone

 

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“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”
― Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin)


Jewel – “Who Will Save Your Soul

Affectation was originally posted October 22, 2015.

 

Copyright © 2015 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

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Mockingbird

Ilse Bing – Ellen Auerbach, 1949. Photos, Big Sur California 1949.

 

Mockingbird

 

Beneath a yellow autumn sky
Rain fell heavy: cast-iron buckshot
Pierced a flapping storm-soaked umbrella
Open-shut open-shut
A mockingbird injured in mid-flight
Grounded, wretched and wild
Hung in the closet
Skin-to-suit drip-dry

Been pushed aside
Punished long and hard
Stood in the shade of blue
Shut all the windows
Barricaded the sun and moon
Swallowed pride: bones and all
Choked up life: the charred remains
Slept in the grave, bedside

Woke — Realized

You and your pseudo avant-garde lifestyle
Experimental cologne: Raid
Innovative mouthwash: RID
Both acid-base slow-release
Intoxicating airborne pheromones
Kept me listening to your half-truths
Alliterations and slant-rhymes
When in reality you’re just a postmodernist
Full of incompleteness, living an unresolved life

 

“What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things… it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface.”
— Constantin Brancusi

 

Video — “Great photographers. Ilse Bing”

Mockingbird was originally posted February 01, 2016.

 

Copyright © 2016 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

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Drone On

The Co-op — Photograph by Mia Pharaoh

 

Drone On
10 Words


We can never fully escape the reach of the collective.

 

“Social media is something of a double-edged sword. At its best, social media offers unprecedented opportunities for marginalized people to speak and bring much needed attention to the issues they face. At its worst, social media also offers ‘everyone’ an unprecedented opportunity to share in collective outrage without reflection.”
— Roxane Gay

 

Copyright © 2017 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

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Revival

Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963). Photographer Unknown

 

Revival
Death of a Messenger

A never-ending performance
Of the darkest night
Has its swan song
With vapid glee
The black curtain’s enormity
Comes down
To an ovation, withstanding
The joys of life
Culminating in pulpit suits
Hats and bourbon
Decent and indecent
Upright and lipstick
Face down and flat out
Clouds of camphor and hypocrisy
Waft through stale air
As ghosts in need
Slip through cracks
Empty-handed, giftless
Greeting Gods
On the other side of tomorrow

 

“I am terrified by this dark thing that sleeps in me.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems


Sylvia Plath reading ‘
A Birthday Present * *

 

Copyright © 2018 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

 

The Understudy

Ellen Rogers Photography

 

The Understudy

Waiting for sleep to take hold
My mind circles like vultures
Canvassing for a carcass
I scribe myself in line and lifelines
Glossy black and blue
Over flat white: hesitant and anemic
I swing like a bladed pendulum
Between false certainty
And self-doubt while wondering
If I’m my own greatest creation
My own worst critic
Or my own careless curator
Stumbling in awkward curtsy
Trading secrets for currency

 

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath *

 

For more about photographer Ellen Rogers please click on the link to visit the wonderfully surreal world of Mr. Cake to see his post, Bewitched.

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Copyright © 2018 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.