Fantastic images

Davidson is showing Philippe Mohlitz, a French printmaker whose engravings from the 1970s remind me of Dürer’s work from some 500 years earlier. Intricate lines, fantastical creatures, minutely detailed narratives, strong chiaroscuro, with a wicked sense of humor.

In one image, a woebegone knight, more reminiscent of Cervantes than Dürer, astride a steed that might be part horse, part wraith, wanders from castle to castle or world to world ever in search of his lost love. His heart cavity is empty, he shows us, opening a hinged box on his chest. Legs and hooves of man and beast fly askew, clippity cloppity, and at the apex of his legs, what might be a saddlehorn, what might be an erect penis.

In another image, overlooking a vista tumbling down a hillside stretching across a meadow to a village far below, a table for a desk, arranged with some books, some drawings, a telescope, a rule and other instruments of measure. A hastily tipped over chair. No man in this image, but through the clouds, revealing Mohlitz’s work process, beginning to be drawn, an enormous iguana, emerging.

Keep in mind, these are engravings, carved directly into copperplate with a sharpened burin, without the aid of so much as a ground or an acid bath, which is labor intensive enough.

Two teenaged boys scoff at the prices, “You’d think if they haven’t sold in thirty years, they would have lowered them by now.”

I think the prices should be doubled, and wonder if these are recession discounted.

A third image, my least favorite of the suite but the one chosen for the postcard, depicts a somewhat flabby odalisque impaled above her abdomen but below her breasts, at the side of an eerie, fantastical creek bed. Across the creek from her prone figure, at an altogether different scale, the skull of an animal longer succumbed to perhaps the same evil. At another scale again, above the creek hover, or maybe swarm, two spermatidal creatures, as if longing, as in cunning, as in deliberating. Between the white line of her body and the fluid, sinuous white lines of their bodies, a dark threshold. But also a lighted window, as the cheery light of a cabin deep in the wood, beckoning.

Any one of Philippe Mohlitz’s images could take up the entire afternoon of an attentive viewer. Through 01 May.

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