realUNreal David Bonetti

April 17, 2013

All or nothing at all. As in love, so in art. An empty gallery, painted

white, like the one Yves Klein created for Galerie Iris Clert in Paris

in1958. Or one of those grand salons, paintings hung up the wall, stacked row

above row until they reach the sky.


I recently visited Boston, where, as usual, I haunted the Museum of Fine

Arts, the place I received my education in visual art. The old tapestry

gallery, high-ceilinged, walled in travertine, has been reassigned to

painting. The same room with the sublime proportions that visitors hurried

through on their way to see the Impressionists is now a place to linger, to

dwell, to dream, to enter the classical world and the bloody dramas of

Counter-Reformation Europe. The proportion of masterpieces here is high:

Velazquez, Poussin, Titian, El Greco, Rubens. Some of my favorite paintings

in the world, all in one room, all on two walls. Velazquez’s little prince

with his plaything, a dwarf; Rosso Fiorentino’s very dead Christ with a

quartet of very gay angels; Claude Lorrain’s vision of Arcadia, Apollo

playing his lyre as swans insouciantly float on pools of deep aquamarine; El

Greco’s fiery-eyed priest, tense, anorexic, lusting for purity; Guercino’s

imperturbable Semiramide being told that revolt has broken out in Babylon,

continuing to comb her hair. (Will a similar scenario be enacted as Baghdad

is once again attacked?)


Another vision: one painting at a time. One perfect work, alone in a room.

Bay Area painter David Simpson told me once of a dream of his to open a

museum where each artist exhibited would have his own separate pavilion. I

will take just 4 rooms: one will shelter a single David Simpson, one a John

Meyer, one a Joseph Marioni, one a Peter Tollens. Are those names unfamiliar?

They are painter’s painters, acquired tastes. Each finds his essence in a

single color, each achieves his radical truth without superfluity. The Meyer

is a diptych, two squares, one white, one black. The Tollens is the deep

green of a German forest. The Simpson shimmers and changes before your eyes

from silver to sunset rose. The Marioni is red, like blood poured down the

surface of a canvas to puddle and coagulate at its bottom edge.


Selected artists:  David Simpson,John Meyer, Joseph Marioni,Peter Tollens

All OR NOTHING AT ALL – David Bonetti