Remember the ritualistic daubing of perfume in preparation for a type of tryst, a slow, light movement on fingertips over the erogenous zones—perhaps more crass, but no less spiritual in its fervor—when one either anticipates, or more likely hopes to conjure the promise of carnal knowledge.
Maybe no one actually does this. The last person I saw do this to herself was a celluloid bimbo in a horror movie. Rest assured, she got hers in the end, according to the gospel of this moralistic genre, but I maintain that this gesture is holy, even if its most fervent practitioners are merely martyrs of pop phantasmagoria.
The bottle she dipped from was chintzy and anonymous. It could have been any of the petit-bourgeois elixirs for which James Krone’s Spell Paintings are named—Leather Woman, Misty Cherry, Catsuit for Men—titles which betray their otherwise classy surface and process, which evokes more chic forms of magic still practiced to this day by trustafarian tribes in the hills of Laurel Canyon, but the word ‘classy’ has a precarious magic of its own: it has the power to undermine itself at the very moment of utterance.
They’re funny only because they’re beautiful, dead serious, super defiant and also super fragile. Postwar surface planes were attacked with raw despair. Here, only the areas left untouched by these commodity-chemicals of desire, this liquid self-delusion, are burnt to a crisp, flaked-off, disappeared.
I catch a glimpse of the artist from across the room. He’s wearing a bedazzled denim jacket loudly bearing his (or at least someone’s) zodiac sign. This is also beautiful and sad and ‘classy’; the faux-Swarovski Pisces fish leaping and gleaming, signaling to any Aries, Tauruses, or Geminis: I’m here.
Our broadcasts may be feeble; pedestrian alchemy toward pedestrian purposes, but a newly-minted famous person in a baby blue Cinderella dress told me via live satellite broadcast that my dreams are valid.
There’s a song lyric I heard a while ago that still gets stuck in my head every so often: hope is a white hand that moves through my body. It seemed obscure and impenetrable at the time, but I get it now. It’s a magician’s glove.
(All images: James Krone, Installation view; Courtesy of the Artist and Night Gallery.)