pictures Thomas Maisonnasse
I always wanted to live in an attic. Don’t ask me why. Probably the blessed hours of reading in my bed while it rained outside. Those lazy hours. Hours spent not working. Looking up at the sky and imagining the different jobs I could do around the house: polishing a chandelier, stripping a parquet floor, frosting the glass on a window. Collecting mollusks and wild flowers. Building a tent with bedsheets. Setting up my own cozy little corner. I wonder where lamps live when they’re not in the attic. Perhaps in windows. The kind that, apparently, serve as alcoves for flâneurs.
The lamp isn’t very big, or very small. It’s of the hanging variety, and octagonal in shape. The shade is made of fabric and black lace. The top of the lampshade is shaped like a wave while the bottom is straight. The lamp hangs from a ribbon, the ribbon comes from the top and crosses the lamp to escape over its right side, at the bottom. We don’t know where the ribbon goes. At the bottom of the wire from which it is hanging, attached along the edge of the black lace, is a fabric doily embroidered with two flowers, the two flowers are on the bottom right. The edges of the embroidered fabric, too, are wavy. And then there’s the drawing. The drawing hangs delicately in the middle of the fabric. It’s a woman wearing a glove with a cigarette in her mouth. To the left of this scene, a man holds up a burning lighter. The top and left edges of the embroidered fabric are folded over the drawing. But not the bottom and right edges. These are not folded.
Miracles sur ce qui a du coeur (“Miracles on What Has Heart”) is a still life that Jessy Razafimandimby has (delicately) drawn for us. It’s a shop with magical objects. And these aren’t just any objects. Only things that have a soul appear, things that sleep in attics, or live around our bodies. Rhopography is the term used to describe painting insignificant, trivial objects. This is opposed to Megalography, which is the art of painting "important" subjects, such as wars, or a love of the gods. Thus, still life explores what "importance" tramples underfoot1. It is interested in what is neglected: the usual, domestic objects, the thousand-year-old objects around which, from time immemorial, daily life is organized2. The still life manifests the body through its absence, through objects steeped in life. In the mosaic Asàrotos òikos3 which, at the time of Hadrian, once decorated the floor of a villa dining room in the hills of Rome, the artist represents, with elegance and finesse, a floor that seems covered with the remains of a banquet. In a moving, delicate way, these remains manifest the body and connect to us, they welcome us. Similarly, the body organizes itself around Razafimandimby’s work. It finds its place in this soft, familiar landscape. It feels at home.
The shop that Razafimandimby has composed for us is an ode to delicateness, to kindness, to gentleness. It’s a work we can live in and feel at home inside. Embodied, the objects he offers us accompany us in our everyday liturgies. It is a poetry of things. Through a sensorial composition of familiar and sacred forms, Jessy Razafimandimby questions intimacy. He meticulously makes us attentive to details – details that are simple and beautiful. He brings us closer to territories we trust, inviting us to rebuild our own attics. He delicately broaches the notion of caring forever and always for our interior spaces – the domestic space, of course, but also the one in our hearts. Placing harvest bouquets there, the kind found in fields in late-summer. Hanging a few watercolours here and there. Occasionally offering flowers, to make someone’s day. In a word, tidying up one’s heart. Meticulously.
1 Norman Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked, Four Essays on Still Life Paintings, Reaction Books Ltd, 1990, p.61
2 For instance, look at the paintings of Juan Sanchez Cotan, Quint, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, oil on canvas, 1602; Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples, oil on canvas, 1895-1898, or Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta, oil on canvas, 1947-1948
3 Heraclitus, after Sosos of Pergamon’s, The unswept floor, 2nd century BC, Musei Vaticani, Rome, Italy