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Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Little Blue Books of Angela Kallus

Angela Kallus, Josephine. 2017.
Ink, pastel and watercolor washes, chalk pastel, and graphite on paper.
14 1/4″ x 10 3/4″.
Image: Athenaeum Review.

Recommending: An interesting 2017 interview, "Angela Kallus: Waterloo," at Athenaeum Review. Images of Kallus's series of works that star Little Blue Books can be seen as well--the picture above is from the interview. And you should google her to see many curious pictures of her Little Blue Books, as well as prior obsessions (roses, circles.) I would include more--as seems only right, given her bent for repetition)--but don't want to dance on copyright, and so include the above as a pointer toward the interview and as an enticement to look further. Curioser and curiouser...

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Thoughts on The Little Blue Books of Angela Kallus

The combat: Old, soft, marred pages and covers made new and crisp in metamorphosis to a new multi-media image.

Another combat: These pictures strike against how our flit-minds move in the time of the internet. They reject swiftness, the movement from image to image, from link to link. They insist on slowness in the way they are made. They meditate. They dwell.

A third combat: Life wants to unravel, to spring apart into chaos. Here is order, not a flight from chaos but a careful, tightly-knotted, labyrinthine walk away from chaos.

Obsessiveness: Parallelism of ancient Hebrew poetry. Repetitiveness of Poe. Repetitiveness of nature, scattering nearly identical leaves (unbound, but leaves like the leaves of a book) or thousands of unregarded dandelions in a lawn (so seemingly alike, so different on the closest inspection.)

Collections: A library collection. An obsessive collector who gathers Little Blue Books in order to make a higher-order, more obsessive collection of their portraits.

The person of the artist: Compulsive, careful, ordered, thriving in tedium (tedium in life can be quite helpful in the arts, but this is obsessive tedium inside the work), adept, capable of fruitful rigidity.

The people: These images have a fascination similar to what a reader finds when exploring stacks of old books--the faded poem slipped inside as a bookmark and forgotten, the doodle, the library seals, the flourishes of script or crooked printing of the often-odd names--but here they work as faint portraits of the dead, just as the pictures as a whole are a portrait of the artist's nature.

Another portrait of the dead: The book, no longer reigning as the vehicle for words, frozen and fixed. Unreadable except in glimpses, and so made into an object that proclaims the uselessness of art--a book now being a thing we cannot read.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.