Friday, July 29, 2011
Dreaming, hand-in-hand with François Houtin
This little post mailed to the universe at large doesn’t really need to be anything but an arrow pointing to François Houtin and Galleria del Leone. I’m not sure how I survived in the world so long without knowing his intricate etchings that have all the rightness of dreams and sometimes remind me of something he must have seen by looking through one of those fey stones with a hole worn through the middle. His etchings are half Earth, half Faerie, half Heaven—unlocking vista on vista through arches and shapes that give way onto marvelous lightening skies. And yes, I know that makes three halves. It would take that many to make up the whole of Houtin.
I love his little garden structures that seem to have grown from some mossy nook, wherever that green dream earth might be found. If I close my eyes and wish hard, perhaps one will seed itself on my back lawn, next to the birch that springs out of an apple stump.
And he’s young as printmakers go—only 61, it seems, and that means time for more dreams. For an instant, looking through the arch of a crumbling ruin onto a vista that slides back forever, you might think him quite as old as Piranesi! I can imagine that Steve Cieslawski likes his work… Houtin has interesting kindred but is quite himself and wonderfully obsessive, it appears, and I am always drawn to the obsessive--those who find "a fire was in my head." That multitude of tiny leaves! The delicacy and intricacy of his dreams! The radiance of skies at the back of his arches and the wonderful eye-peeps drawing our gaze onward and onward from here to mystical there...
I, having the lavish freedom of the mind, shall imagine Houtin as a sort of wandering Aengus, who composes his own "hollow lands and hilly lands" and then passes into them, seeking to catch what "faded in the brightening air." And surely if we can only clamber over the sill of a frame and into one of his etchings, we can "pluck till time and times are done / the silver apples of the moon, / the golden apples of the sun."
How glad I am, François Houtin, that you spent all those hours scratching at a wax ground with your etching needle! True metal and other worlds lay underneath, all the time.
In a mere eye-twinkle you may flit to Galleria del Leone and see many more Houtin etchings in dizzy, heaped-up profusion, along with dream-like titles and a bit of information about the artist and each picture. Here are are few mysteries to entice: