Archive for March, 2023

Le comte Ory / Expectation / The Great God Pan

March 22, 2023
“Le comte Ory”, pencil on pink letter paper (A4)

This image would need no further comment, if the idea of the comment was merely to describe or amplify that what is shown in the image. What is shown lies on a plane where laughter, sighs, and giggles reign. A poem or song would be better suited to accompany this drawing of the salon or bidet variety.

The artist feels however inclined to add that the scenery depicted has very little to do with the Comte Ory storyline of Verdi’s opera buffa, but is indeed showing members of a dance troupe passing the night in a castle unwillingly offered to them as a shelter for the night by an oddly motivated aristocratic owner, who is torn between his own ingrained hospitality and the knowledge that harm will befall his guests because the castle is also claimed as a hunting ground for young female victims by his vampiric brother, who, being undead, naturally has no legal claim tho the castle, inherited by his surviving brother. The drawing owes its peculiar charm from the fact that it is based quite closely on a still from the Italian Gothic film “L’amante del vampiro” by the otherwise not very well known Renato Polselli. Casting for the film involved Gino Turini who put in part of the money for the film and Hélène Rémy as the film was originally going to be a co-production deal with France. Writer Ernesto Gastaldi once noted that the casting of Tina Gloriani was due to her being the director’s lover at the time. 

This superfluous information hopefully will not serve to diminish the effect of the one pertinent artist’s addition in the form of the hirsute mandrill face of the male protagonist. Male mandrills are of course the most erotically branded animals; they carry their propensity for sex in their brightly marked faces and their firey red behinds, while the intensity of the colours is directly linked to the level of testosterone in their bodies. Note how the two women depicted in this scene allegorically represent the two possible reactions of the opposite sex (unmarked) to such a stark display of sexual interest in the man; either amused curiosity or interest, or concern. Today and to modern audiences, this motif and its reading might seem jejune or ill-advised on the basis of enlightened disdain for traditional gender-based roles in terms of sexual initiative or competition. But this is very anthropocentric thinking. This is more about the (assumed, suggested, claimed) animal nature of things sexual, so closely related also to satanism, ritual, cruelty, neg(oti)ation of civilization and rules of civilized behaviour.

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