Just spotted this from last week's TLS but no link I'm afraid. Seeing as I've dissed Bolano, who Mark's a fan of, I should mention that one of his favourite writers, Gabriel Josipovici is writing on the incredible Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi, currently being exhibited at the Royal Academy

Readers Comments

  1. A not very enlightening piece on Hammershoi by Waldemar Januszczak here:

  2. It is enlightening Mark. It reveals how a novelist and literary critic can be a much more profound and sensitive art critic. It's a shame the TLS review is offline. Here's a part of it:

    "Islamic artists believed that mathematics, when embodied in pattern, revealed the secret rhythms underlying the universe. It does not matter if the pattern is cut off at any one point, because we have been given more than enough to allow us to intuit these rhythms. In the same way Hammershoi’s pictures establish a rhythm, and the cutting off of a panel or a bookcase by the edge of the picture only confirms that the rhythm inheres in all things, if we sit quietly enough, listen intently enough. [I]n the later work it is embodied in the purely abstract play of shape against shape, light against dark, hip and plate against shoulder and cheek. But it is more than that, and when we grasp what that ‘more’ is we grasp why Hammershoi, like so many modern painters, having fully internalised the reasons for the drive towards abstraction, nevertheless wished to remain within the realm of figuration. The woman is seen as taking part in a dance of which she is not even aware (it is important that she be not aware), a dance of the *given* world. These pictures convey a powerful sense of the radical contingency of each moment: it is this moment, now, and no other. But also, the radical contingency of our Western, urban civilisation: it is a late nineteenth century room or street in Copenhagen or London, here, now – and it could so well have been other. There is a political direction in which this could go, of course, but it is not the direction Hammershoi chooses: having understood that it is not given but made, in a dizzying series of chances and choices, he does not want to change the world; he wants instead to bless it for being as it is, now, at this moment, transient, transitory, and then to let it go. No wonder Rilke wished to write about him."

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