These paintings look amazing. Wish I was in London to see this, a solo exhibition of Gavin Nolan who painted famous people who committed suicide (Walter Benjamin, Jesus Christ, Joseph Goebbels, Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Hitler, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Socrates, Virginia Woolf.). Jonathan Dronsfield wrote a great essay about the show. Here is a good bit:

According to one of the leading philosophers of art today, Alain Badiou, there are two conflicting and constitutive poles of contemporary art, two norms of what a subject is, two subjective paradigms at war with each other: the subject as its body, and the subject separate from its body. For the subject who identifies with its body the limit would be experimentation with death. In art this would be the body artist committing suicide in public. Nonetheless this paradigm is called enjoyment, because in the end experimentation with and identification with the body in life is enjoyment, in which death is part of life. But for the subject who refuses identity with its body the paradigm is sacrifice, because a refusal of the body in life is death. Here life is but part of death, where pleasure occurs in a world after this one, the same world where the suicide bomber projects himself. Today’s war on terror is the struggle between these two paradigms. If the choice is between enjoyment and sacrifice then no art is possible says Badiou. The artist today must neither identify with his own body nor separate himself from it. The artist must seek a way between two suicides. And perhaps what we have with these paintings, the game played in front of the eyes of these suicides, is an image of Badiou’s ‘third way’ between two suicides, an image of ‘immanent difference’, neither the immanence of identification with the body, nor the transcendence of its rejection. A game spilling from the mouth of the suicide or receding into it which opposes the choice between escape or emigration in favour of forms of living that what, open up play?

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